Good customer service gives us almost as much of a buzz as being reunited with an old friend or watching a favorite sports team head to victory, new research shows.
Far from providing a slight lift during a mundane day, tests on 1,600 volunteers show great customer service acts as a much stronger emotional switch.
The research, undertaken by Neurosense on behalf of American Express1, showed that two in three volunteers saw their pulse rate increase, their breathing slow and their sweat glands swing into action when shown images of workers going the extra mile for customers.
These are the same physical responses we feel when thinking of something pleasurable – such as a good catch-up with an old friend or your favourite football team winning a championship.
Dr Jack Lewis, a neuroscientist who looked at the research, said he was amazed at the impact good service has on people.
“It was a big surprise to see that the volunteers had a response similar to what we call a 'peak pleasure'. This means they were having a powerful emotional reaction.
This might have been because us Brits tend to expect mediocre service. As such, we are so surprised when someone provides excellent service it causes a bigger response in the brain, similar to what we see when people are feeling loved.” Dr Lewis says the physical reaction is partly caused by neural electrical stimulation in the brain and partly a hormonal response involving adrenaline. “The research found that volunteers had a big response to seeing a cab driver return an item to a customer who had left it in the back of their cab,” he added. The results showed this was an emotional event for respondents as it showed humanity. They also responded positively to things like getting a free gift as a customer as well as getting a problem solved quickly over the phone.” Dr Lewis says there is also evidence that people who have had a good experience will go on to behave kindly towards others. “This pro-social behavior is how you see a good deed being passed on because people have felt such a positive response to how someone has behaved towards them."