Happiness in Customer Experience: A Competitive Advantage


Last updated on October 24, 2023

Success in customer experience (CX) can be represented by numbers. A high Net Promoter Score (NPS), a large number of new customers in a month, or fewer unsatisfactory customer service request conclusions, are just some of the metrics we use to measure an effective customer experience. But in this pursuit of numbers, we mustn’t lose sight of what truly drives customer experience: Happiness.

Customer Experience (CX) hinges upon customers’ sentiments. Happy customers are satisfied customers who will return to help your business. One surefire way to deliver happiness to customers is to create a culture of happiness within the company.

This article addresses the importance of happiness in customer experience, explains how happiness can drive growth and become a competitive advantage, and is inspired by the fireside chat “How can we use the science of happiness in CX?” that Carlos Del Corral, Lumoa CEO, had with Rosaria Cirillo, a renowned customer experience professional and a certified happiness expert.

Webinar How can we use the science of happiness in CX - Lumoa

Happiness and Customer Experience

Weaving happiness into your company’s customer experience strategy requires a change in perspective and leadership. Rather than being purely transactional, your strategy and leadership should focus on the following three elements that Rosaria defines as the basis of HCX (the future of CX) and Happiness Driven Growth:

  • Human-Centered Experiences: Build a business model that acknowledges and encourages the desires of customers and employees to live a peaceful and sustainable life.
  • Happiness-Contributing Experiences: Create and deliver meaningful and life-enriching products and services that make customers and employees feel empowered.
  • Heart-Connecting Experiences: Since people tend to make decisions driven by emotion before justifying them with logic, find ways to connect emotionally with customers and create a work culture that allows them to lead from the heart.

When your approach to customer experience incorporates these three elements, customers and employees come away feeling pleasant and enriching emotions. Understanding emotions and what triggers them is at the core of every customer experience strategy.

Based on the learning from Marshall Rosenberg NVC, Rosaria invited us to see (customer) emotions as the consequence of meeting needs or not and to simply see emotions as “pleasant/enriching” or “unpleasant/depleting”, instead of labeling them as positive or negative, which includes judgment and is less empowering.

When considering that “unpleasant” emotions are mainly a result of unmet needs, your customer experience strategy can promote happiness by proactively meeting your customers’ needs and by empowering your employees to address these needs.

Linking Happiness and Customer Needs

American psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced the concept of the “Hierarchy of Needs,” a pyramid with five levels that lead to human fulfillment and are foundational to customer understanding.

Picture1 - LumoaA customer experience that focuses on cultivating happiness needs to follow a similar model. It starts with recognizing that customers also have a hierarchy of needs in their dealings with a company. We will look at consumers’ hierarchy of needs in more detail below.

  • Level 1 Basic Needs: Involves giving customers access to a company representative who can understand their requests and take steps to solve them.
  • Level 2 Safety Needs: Taking steps to ensure customers can easily access the company’s representatives, like having a toll-free number, prominently displayed contact information, and being transparent with customers.
  • Level 3 Efficiency and Consistency Needs: Being able to meet customers’ requests in a short amount of time and maintaining the same level of service across all company touchpoints.
  • Level 4 Attention and Cooperation Needs: Enter the realm of personalization with agents who can recognize customers and recall what issues they’ve experienced earlier.
  • Level 5 Proactive, Self-Actualization, and Connection Needs: Forge a connection based on empathy between company agents and customers, where customer needs can be anticipated and met even before an issue arises.

A company should set out to meet each level of consumer needs in ascending order to build a happiness-centric customer experience. As you climb the ladder to higher levels, you might also notice metrics like your NPS rising in synchrony, as there is a correlation between Net Promoter Score and Maslow’s needs hierarchy.

Exceeding Customer Needs to Achieve Happiness

Our emotions do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, they are in a constant flow state, moving from pleasant to unpleasant and back again. It would be foolish and exhausting to expect an individual to be happy all the time. Instead, we should link our emotional state to how we feel when our needs are being met versus when they are not being met.

This allows us to act on unpleasant emotions by identifying unmet needs and taking steps to meet them.

In customer experience, this is a practical piece of advice that can help companies reduce customers’ pain points. Angry or difficult customers usually have urgent needs that need to be met, and companies can adapt their approach to address those needs proactively.

When you understand your customers’ needs, you can focus on adding value to their experience and making them happy, and sprinkle your customer understanding with the knowledge from the science of happiness to reach the top of the pyramid and proactively contribute to both customers’ and employees’ happiness.

The Nine Factors of Happiness

Happiness in customer experience is not limited to just the customers. Employees play an equally important role in creating a product or service that spreads happiness. Happiness trainer, educational speaker, and author of Yellow Factor: Happiness in Business, Rosaria has put forth a simple model for companies to apply the science of happiness to exceed both customer and employee expectations and achieve happiness-driven growth.

Based on the analysis of over 300 trailblazers cases and findings from neuroscience and positive psychology, Cirillo’s “Sunflower of Happiness” nine factors we can nurture to design and deliver HCX experiences. Let’s break down each of the nine petals, which conveniently fit the acronymous HAPPINESS.


Being in good physical and mental health is the bedrock of happiness. Promoting practices that prioritize the health of employees and customers alike is essential for every company, not just those that work in healthcare.


Giving employees a degree of control over their actions lets them feel empowered. Having a say over their work-life balance and responsibilities makes employees feel positive about their role in a company.


Working toward a worthwhile goal makes people feel happy about putting in effort. Companies should give employees a chance to contribute to something larger than themselves and help meaningfully. Customers can also be brought on board by offering them the chance to participate in company initiatives for the greater good.


Cultivating a sense of fun is vital in a culture of happiness. Qualities like creativity and adventurousness should be encouraged in an environment that is free of any judgments. Play can extend beyond the workspace to customers as well, engaging them in activities that stimulate their sense of fun.


In order to create a positive customer experience, companies need to make a positive impact on society. Employees feel proud, and customers feel comfortable being associated with businesses that take steps to improve communities, contribute to society, and protect the environment.


Being connected to nature promotes a feeling of holistic well-being. This could be as simple as allowing natural light into workspaces and creating experiences that simulate the sense of being in nature. Companies can also commit to preserving nature and allowing their customers and employees to enjoy their bounties by promoting initiatives that protect the environment.


Shared connections bring people closer in business and their personal lives. Companies should convey their sense of empathy through their communications with clients, offering assurances that they understand their problems. Fostering better working relationships between employees also contributes to a culture of happiness.


Customers and employees alike would like to conserve their energy. Reducing the amount of demands on them and simplifying their transactions lets them remain energetic and happy.


Our brain responds to our body’s signals, and smiles signify happiness. Turn milestones into moments of celebration, and share the joy with customers to spread happiness all around.

Achieving Lasting Growth with Happiness

Investing in a culture of happiness can yield positive returns for a company. Promoter scores, sales, and revenue all go up when your customer base is happy and satisfied. Learning about the benefits of happiness is only the first step.

Through repetition and consistency, you can hardwire happiness into your customer experience, which builds customer loyalty and employee motivation. And it all starts with nurturing your very own happiness to blossom like a sunflower. Turn happiness into your business (and personal) superpower!

As a special gift for Lumoa’s attendees in the fireside chat between Carlos and Rosaria and the readers (YOU), she has provided a free extract of her book “Yellow Factor: Happiness in Business” Enjoy.

Webinar How can we use the science of happiness in CX - Lumoa

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