Emotional service: It Ain’t What You Do…

ViewPoint welcomes guest blogger Richard Quarterman back with the next installment in the Customer Service blog series :

In my last blog, I drew a distinction between functional service and emotional service. Having made that distinction, I then started to realise that this difference also starts to explain one of the other mysteries of the customer service world – why do companies who offer relatively ‘poor’ service seem to prove remarkably popular with their customers? I’m thinking in particular of two examples that have grown massively in the past few years – the low-cost airlines and the discount supermarkets.

Connecting service with emotion

You will notice that I’ve put the word ‘poor’ in inverted commas – they’re not really offering poor service. What they are doing is making their service offering work on an emotional level rather than a functional level. Of course, the key element to their proposition is value for money, but they are delivering it in line with some key criteria that I reckon form the basis of a good emotional connection between service provider and service user.  Essentially, it’s not about the ‘what’, it’s about the ‘how’. Or as the Fun Boy Three and Bananarama sang in their 1982 hit, It Ain’t What You Do, It’s the Way that You Do It!

Key values of great emotional service

So what are those key criteria? I have drawn up a list of five that for me encapsulate the key values of great emotional service – it needs to be

  • Coherent,
  • Empathetic,
  • Consistent,
  • Ethical and
  • Authentic.

And in my next few blogs, I’ll explain what I mean by each of these, and how to recognise it in an organisation.

The old saying is true "one size does not fit all", and as Richard suggests, what makes a service successful varies between organisations. Blindly following the latest trends, fads or technological advances in customer service may be tempting, but could ultimately lack reward if they are not valued by your customers. To succeed you need to understand what matters to them and do that well. We look forward to Richard's next installment.

Further reading

About author

Written by Richard Quarterman - Guest blogger

Over a long and varied career at John Lewis and Waitrose, Richard Quarterman was a senior manager in both IT and Retail roles, responsible for delivering the Waitrose Customer Service strategy and managing the customer experience measurement programme. He now works as a freelance consultant and part-time lecturer on Retail Management and Customer Service. Find out more at, or contact Richard on

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