It's no surprise when good service makes you smile, but research from American Express has found that a great customer service experience also has definite physiological and psychological effects on consumers, making them physically calmer and mentally happier. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The 'American Express Service Study' was conducted by international cognitive research firm Neurosense, and found that being exposed to fantastic acts of service initiates a chain reaction of responses in our bodies, with 83% of respondents experiencing increased 'electrodermal response' (perspiration level) - indicating a positive physical reaction - and 68% feeling their breathing rate decrease as anxiety and stress levels dropped, while 63% felt their heart rate increase as they became more excited.

The study also found that on an emotional level, benefitting from great service triggers the same basic cerebral reactions as feeling loved. Further research also discovered that 29% of British consumers felt "thrilled" when receiving great service, and 20% felt "energised".

When consumers were asked about their favourite customer service experiences, the results were surprising. The top ten best service experiences were:

  1. A taxi driver returning your lost property from the back of their cab (35%);
  2. Receiving a gift as a thank-you for being a customer (34%);
  3. Quick and hassle-free problem-solving over the phone (33%);
  4. The supermarket opening an extra checkout/till when there is a long queue (25%)
  5. Being given a discount for no specific reason (22%);
  6. A waiter/waitress returning your forgotten shopping or lost property (22%);
  7. Being upgraded on a flight or train to either Business or First Class (21%)
  8. Having your life made easier by efficient online services (20%);
  9. Being deliberately given a free item in a shop or cafe (17%)
  10. Attentive shopping assistants providing what you were looking for (15%).

"If you think about how often you come into contact with service every day, it's clear that you're experiencing service opportunities more often than ever before," explained according to neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis. "Our tests showed that great service ranks as a 'peak pleasure' - this is, a positive and emotionally-charged event, similar to being reunited with a close friend. These emotions are accompanied by physiological responses that can be measured scientifically. Interestingly, not only did great service trigger such responses but the subconscious associations between great service and concepts like 'feeling less lonely' were strong in more than half of the participants."