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New scientific research reveals that ‘above and beyond’ customer service is proven to have both mental and physical beneficial effects


It’s no surprise that good service makes us smile. But new scientific research shows that great service experiences also have physiological and psychological effects on our bodies, as well as making us feel happier and calmer.

The American Express Service Study, the first study of its kind, conducted by international cognitive research organisation Neurosense, revealed that being exposed to fantastic acts of service initiates a chain reaction of responses in our bodies:

  • 83% of respondents experienced increased electrodermal response (perspiration level) indicating a positive physical reaction 

  • 68% of respondents felt their breathing rate decrease as anxiety and stress levels dropped

  • 63% of those tested 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[1] per cent of Brits stated they felt thrilled when receiving a great service and a fifth[2] felt energised. And it also found that amongst service experiences, a taxi driver returning lost property left in their cab topped a poll of the best service encounters:

Top ten best service experiences


Taxi driver returning your lost property from the back of their cab



Receiving a gift as a thank you for being a customer



Quick and hassle-free problem solving over the phone



Supermarkets opening a new checkout till when there is a long queue



Being given a discount for no specific reason



A waiter/waitress returning your forgotten shopping or lost property



Getting upgraded on a flight or train to Business or First Class



Having your life made easier by efficient online services



Being deliberately given a free item in a shop or cafe



Attentive shopping assistants providing what you were after


Commenting on the findings, neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis said “If you think about how often you come into contact with service every day – from online shopping, to memorable days out, or seeking peace of mind when things go wrong – it’s clear that we’re experiencing service more frequently than any previous era.

 “The tests showed that great service ranks as a ‘peak pleasure’ – a positive, emotionally-charged event such as being reunited with a close friend. Such emotions are accompanied by a surge of physiological responses in our bodies that can be measured using scientific equipment. Interestingly, not only did great service trigger such physiological responses but the subconscious associations between great service and concepts like feeling less lonely and ignored were strong in over half the participants, proving the importance of good service in today’s society.”

[1] Populus Omnibus American Express Survey Online Fieldwork : 17th-19th July 2013 prepared by Populus Omnibus of 2,000 respondents

[2] Populus Omnibus American Express Survey Online Fieldwork : 17th-19th July 2013 prepared by Populus Omnibus of 2,000 respondents


For more information please contact:
Emma Jones 020 3128 8782

Notes to Editor


  • Neurosense tested a total of 1,620 participants in the UK, Canada, Mexico and Australia, aged from 18 to 60 and 50/50 gender split. 

  • Populus Omnibus American Express Survey Online Fieldwork : 17th-19th July 2013 prepared by Populus Omnibus of 2,000 respondents

Research methodology: The experiment was conducted in two phases: the first tackled the psychological response to good service, capturing participants’ unconscious feelings using the patented Neurosense BrainLink™ software, which measures response times to certain concepts and related words or images. The second phase measured physiological reactions (heart rate, breathing rate and galvanic skin response) to good service. Reactions were monitored using biometric equipment at the University of the West of England in Bristol, United Kingdom. As physiological reactions are consistent and show a basic human reaction, to provide a scientifically robust result the biometric tests carried in one country.

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives, offer peace of mind and help build business success. For more information please visit, follow @AmexUK on Twitter or American Express UK on Facebook.