Industry Updates

Emotional connection is vital to truly satisfy customers

03 Mar 2015

– Ask Afrika Orange Index® shows impact of employee emotions on customer experience

Service delivery is central to the success of a business and what customers want from the experience has shifted over time. Transactional efficiency is no-longer sufficient to satisfy customers, empathy and emotional connection have become an important part of the equation and the focus is now on the relationship.

Marketers have made this shift and are connecting with consumers on an emotional level, this needs to carry over into the service encounter. Customers used to be viewed as respondents, but the power has shifted, the playing field has become increasingly consumer centric, genuine interaction and emotional connection is required. Service delivery needs to take the entire customer experience journey into account to satisfy customers.

The measurement of customer satisfaction has become stuck in evaluating statistical methods that deal with multi-collinearity and using the optimal number of scales points. The human element has been neglected.  This approach can look good in reports, but in reality it has lost sight of the consumer and should rather be focusing on developing new methods that are more sensitive to how the customer feels. Future development of customer satisfaction levels will use visual representations of different emotions.

Trend spotting widens the window of opportunity. Being mindful of trends enables businesses to understand current and emerging shifts and identify factors that will have a direct impact on their customers, product portfolio, and overall strategies. The Ask Afrika Orange Index® provides customer service trends, insights, and thought leadership based on 13 years of data, now across 32 industries and 155 companies, with representative companies as well as the government sector.

This enables companies to take a long term view of how customers’ expectations and perceptions regarding service and the extent to which they have managed to delight customers along this journey. Each year Ask Afrika conducts this unique South African customer satisfaction benchmark survey.

Through years of research and insight into current trends Ask Afrika has designed a service model which talks strongly to humanness. The emotions that people feel in daily life and those that evoke in others are at the heart of humanness. Organisations impact on consumer emotions in a very real way. It seems inconceivable that organisations don’t place how consumers feel about them at the heart of their research and strategies.

Traditionally, exclusively cognitive measures have been used to explain customer satisfaction. Given the rising importance of emotions in research, it now seems obvious that emotions play an important role in explaining customer satisfaction. There is growing evidence that including emotional measurement in service models results in a better explanation of customer satisfaction (Smith & Bolton, 2002). In their 2002 paper Smith and Bolton conclude, “Our study yields some interesting findings related to the role of emotion and shows that failure to consider and/or measure customers’ emotional responses could result in misleading predictions about satisfaction and/or incomplete understanding of customers’ evaluations”.

Asplund (2007) reports that only emotionally satisfied customers had high levels of brand affinity and their spending patterns were different from those that were merely cognitively satisfied. Yu and Dean (2001) find that emotional satisfaction is a better predictor of loyalty than cognitive satisfaction. Despite these early findings very little measurement of emotional response to service experience is happening.

Ask Afrika has included a research survey in their Ask Afrika Orange Index® called the Behaviour Sciences Package, designed specifically to measure emotional encounters between employees and customers so that they can best advise companies who order research reports on how they can improve their service delivery in terms of creating the correct emotional connection with consumers. These in-depth tailor made reports speak not only about the client’s performance, but compares this to other companies in their industry sector and then places client performance within the broader cross-industry framework.

“The Ask Afrika Orange Index® leader board has gone through transformation over the decade with fewer of today’s top ten brands having led the industry in terms of customer service excellence. Consumer expectations, both in terms of the public or private sectors, continue to evolve. It is those businesses that keep their finger on the pulse of changing consumer expectations that meet or exceed service expectations,” says Sarina de Beer, MD of Ask Afrika.

Excellence is achieved by consistently exceeding customer expectations, as opposed to focusing on service within a specified or limited time frame. Businesses recognise the challenge of delighting customers and winners of the Ask Afrika Orange Index® often acknowledge this.  

The Ask Afrika Orange Index® not only measures service within industries, but across industries, and it identifies landscape changes to provide insights into the mass consumer trends, informing service improvement strategies. Full research reports can be purchased from Ask Afrika, providing specific insights into a company’s performance, contextualising this into the industry context, and into the general service delivery landscape, both locally and globally.

To order a full Ask Afrika Orange Index® research report call: 012 428 7400,

About the Ask Afrika Group:
Over a period of almost two decades, Ask Afrika Group has grown to be the largest independent South African market research company. The company focuses on local relevance, benchmarked against the global context. Ask Afrika is a member of WIN/Gallup International and ESOMAR. Apart from its large South African footprint, Ask Afrika Group also operates in a dozen African continental territories. 

Ask Afrika Group is well known for delivering strategic and large scale field projects and for creating benchmarks for industry. With regards to service excellence Ask Afrika Group is the preferred research partner across industries to co-craft customer service strategies through meaningful research methodologies across the value chain and customer service touch points. 

TGI research, for which Ask Afrika Group  owns the South African copyright, has an annual single source sample of 15 000 locally and 800 000 globally. It has a global geographic coverage of 70 markets, and measures services, products, media, and brands. Ask Afrika’s knowledge of brands is extensive and as owner of the local TGI license, it is the leader in brand expertise in South Africa. TGI can provide a commercial alternative to industry media measurements. It is the perfect vehicle for brand positioning. 

The Ask Afrika Groups’ exclusive product suite includes the Ask Afrika Orange Index®, the Trust Barometer™, Radio Moods™, TGI (Target Group Index), Ask Afrika ICON Brands™ and TGI Township, the Digital Barometer, the Lite Data Collection, the Behavioural Sciences Package and Gateway. Ask Afrika is proud of its exceptional service delivery, with offices based in Pretoria and Stellenbosch.

For more information please visit the website:

Issued on behalf of Ask Afrika by Stone Soup Public Relations

For further information, please contact Daya Coetzee, (011) 447 7241