Emotion and loyalty


Loyalty isn’t functional, it’s emotional. Customers will use phrases such as “I love them” when describing a business they are loyal to.

It’s called emotional dependence – the psychological commitment from a customer. It’s them relying on you for support, guidance and decision making. To get emotional dependency from your customers you need:

  • integrity,
  • reliability,
  • a deep relationship and
  • empathy towards the customer, their needs and their situation.

Ritz-Carlton hotels are world leaders in creating an emotional bond with their customers. They work hard to get to know you and your likes and dislikes Then they look at how they can exceed your expectations. Sometimes they arrange for a guest to get their local newspaper. Often, they make a surprise reservation at a customer’s favourite restaurant.

A small negative experience can destroy customer loyalty if you don’t know them well. For example, think about a sole trader running an e-commerce business from home. Their network goes down and they can’t take orders or send customers e-mails. They phone their internet provider but just get through to someone who is following a script. They don’t listen or understand the impact the fault has had on their business. The advice is to turn their system off and on. Then they say they will arrange for an engineer to call but it could be some days yet. How would you feel as that sole trader? Would you ever trust your internet provider again? Would you think that they cared about you or understood your needs?

We had an example recently when we used an online florist to send a bouquet to a relative who was getting married. She called to thank us for the flowers and asked us why we had forgotten her name! The florist had mixed up the cards and included the wrong one with the bouquet. The bride wanted to save all the cards in a memory box. We phoned the florist and explained what had happened. They offered a discount voucher but wouldn’t send a replacement card out.

How you can create emotional dependence:

  • Learn what your customers value on a personal level. Always try to exceed their expectations to show you care about them
  • Be empathetic and responsive when your customer is getting emotional about an issue. Even if you think it’s minor, do whatever it takes to sort it out
  • Empower your staff. Train them in active listening and give them the freedom to bend the rules to please a customer if necessary.


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