How to Tap into People’s Emotion to Provide Good Customer Service

31 Dec 2018 Posted in ⟨For Business Leaders⟩

Every business wants to provide excellent service, but why do some have customers returning over and over again while others struggle to get feet through the door?

While improving your product offerings, store design and customer service procedures can increase customer satisfaction in the short run, these tweaks and adjustments can only go so far.

The secret to winning your customer’s hearts is not just a “tactic.” It lies much deeper than “what” you offer. As Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, states, “people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”


A “why” is your core purpose. It’s the deeper reason that your business exists and a customer’s choice to buy from you says a lot about who they are and their beliefs.

Here are some examples of companies who have a purpose that underpins and drives everything that they do:

  • Mapletree: We strive to incorporate sustainable practices and generate positive shared outcomes in the communities where we operate.
  • Park Hotel Group: Our success is not appraised by the number of hotels under our fold, but by the number of lives we touch and inspire along the way.
  • Crystal Jade: We seek to preserve the precious things in life. Through food, we strive to harmoniously connect.

As you can see, none of the examples above have a purpose that focuses on pushing their products and services. Instead, they put themselves into the shoes of their customers and use their business as a vehicle to create a positive impact in their lives.

For Mapletree that means sustainable practices and community. For Park Hotel Group that means inspiration. For Crystal Jade that means connection.

But why is this important and how does it affect your relationship with your customers?


The belief that customers make rational purchases is myth. The truth is that both habits and emotions come into the equation.

Business strategist, Lisa Earle McLeod, illustrates the importance of how purpose taps into our emotions in saying, “people need to know what to do. They need to know how to do it. And they need to know why they’re doing it. Before looking into what and how to engage people’s minds, focus on what captures people’s hearts.

While having a purpose may polarise your audience, it gives your brand a clear identity that will speak to your desired audience through everything you do – whether it’s how you develop the products, how you design the in-store experience or how you interact with your customers.


Operating from a customer-centric point of view does not necessarily mean that “the customer is always right.” As Peter Fader states in Customer Centricity, “in the world of customer centricity, there are good customers…and then there is everybody else.”

Although every organisation needs to learn from their customer feedback, we must also discern what is reasonable and what is not. Sticking hard and fast to the old customer service paradigm can create unwanted circumstances such as empowering abrasive customers over those who are reasonable. There have been cases where online reviews and social media platforms turn an unchecked complaint into a massive PR crisis. On the flip side, relying too much on positive response given by your pool of early adopters may also end up restricting innovation.

Instead of giving away your power immediately, empathise with what your customers are going through and work together to find a solution. But above all, make your overarching purpose and the people rallying behind it the priority.


In Dan Pink’s TED talk, The Puzzle of Motivation, he states that “purpose” is one of the three key motivators in the new workplace as it gives employees a greater reason to come to work. The other two motivators are “autonomy” and “mastery.”

While winning the hearts of your customers requires you to put yourself in their shoes, it can only be brought to life by nurturing the hearts of your employees. These are the people who will represent what your organisation stands for day-in, day-out, so give them the training, resources and authority that they need to shine.

Start winning your customers! Invest in understanding the core of your organisation, and nurture the hearts of your employees.


NTUC LearningHub offers two courses to help you embark on the path to Service Excellence. Empower your managers with Lead with One Vision, and encourage service professionals to embrace a service ethos with Sync Your Service Vision.


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