Customer Responses, From Angry To Adoring

Every time customers interact with your company, they have some emotional reaction to the event. While there are many, many ways to look at an individual’s reaction to a situation, the Temkin Group’s Five As model offfers one way to think about it.

The Five As represent a spectrum of responses that customers have after an interaction:

  • Angry: Customers feel wronged by the interaction and will look for opportunities to tell other people (a.k.a. vent) about the situation and will try and stay away from the organization.
  • Agitated: Customers didn’t enjoy the interaction and will think twice about doing business with the organization in the future.
  • Ambivalent: Customers had no significant emotional response and remain as loyalty as they were before the interaction.
  • Appreciative: Customers feel that the organization outperformed their expectations and are more inclined to do business with the organization in the future.
  • Adoring: Customers feel like company fully met their needs and will look for opportunities to tell other people about the situation and will try to interact more with the organization in the future.

Here are some ways that you can use the Five As:

  • Training. If you teach all employees this scale, then your organization will have a common vocabulary for discussing customer reactions. This framework will help trainees gauge how customers would likely respond to situations and discuss what they could do to improve the customer’s ultimate emotional response.
  • Coaching. Supervisors can ask their employees a very simple question after an interaction: “how do you think the customer felt about the call?” This can work for anyone that has customer interactions: phone reps, retail salespeople, cashiers, insurance agents, bank tellers, etc.
  • Customer delight scorecards. Every time employees interact with a customer or make a decision, they can give themselves a score based on what they believe is (or will be) the customers’ most likely emotional response to their action:
    • Angry (-3)
    • Agitated (-1)
    • Ambivalent (0)
    • Appreciative (+1)
    • Adoring (+3)

The total across these interactions and decisions represents a customer delight score. Employees can calculate this score on a regular basis (daily, weekly) and track how they are doing over time.

The bottom line: Are you creating angry or adoring customers?

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about these topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

4 Responses to Customer Responses, From Angry To Adoring

  1. John Ely says:


    Great article and fantastic references for the service interactions from the customer’s viewpoint! Training is the key, and too many times I see the first line item cut from budgets is just that – training. Or, the training is reserved for upper-level employees, and the true brand ambassadors (those on the front lines) are left with no guidance and to fend for themselves.

    If corporate leaders would go “undercover” and shop their own companies, I bet they find that they leave ambivilent at best! Adoring is extremely rare in my experience.

    John Ely
    VP Marketing, Signature Worldwide

  2. I like the customer delight scorecards. It would seem that occasionally you would want to follow up with customers to ensure that how you perceive their emotional response matches what they actually feel. It would seem after a few times of doing this you should have a good correlation between perceived and actual feelings.

  3. Kristi Olson says:

    Thanks for your article, Bruce. I like your 5 responses and will try them out as categories for my VOC survey open ends. Currently I’m tracking 2 categories (positive and negative), but I like your 5 responses (2 positives, 1 neutral, 2 negatives) and will try those out. Thanks!

  4. kirkjharris says:

    Great article. Thanks!

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