We recently caught up with Silvia Damiano, scientist, author, speaker, award winning leadership expert. Silvia's curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning & the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life.


Silvia, it’s great to meet you again today. Tell me how your work, and customer experience project fit together. How valuable is your work to the Customer Experience environment?

If you take the most basic approach, we all have a brain, and people either approach you because you are giving them something that their brain needs, or they go away because they are not receiving either the attention or the service, or whatever it is that they're requiring.

In the old days, we might talk about the psychology of the customer. But today we have much more information to understand some of these reactions. Today, we are able to measure reactions of how a person will respond to a particular ad or product, and we actually can see in the brain how that reaction manifests.

Can the success of customer experience processes be measured in brain reaction?

Absolutely. In the middle of the brain, there are two pieces of very old tissue called Amygdala, which are the centers of the brain where fear and anxiety manifest.

So taking Customer Experience as an example, if a customer is not getting what they need from an organisation or service, then they go away, to another organisation or company or someone that's giving them a better service. Or conversely they stay and fight and really spoil the relationship with you. Will the customer speak to you to correct this issue…probably not.

Does a good customer experience create a special reaction in the same part of the brain?

So let me explain. The limbic brain is where the amygdala is the main protagonist. And then there's another functional network called a "reward circle". The reward circle is where the brain feels satisfied or rewarded by whatever is happening around it. This in turn generates dopamine, the chemical of pleasure, the chemical of desire.

So when we get what we want through food or service or something that pleases us, these reward circles, or functional networks become activated and we feel good about our experience.

So, some of the latest advancements in the neuro-marketing area is exactly that, "How can we create more dopamine shots for the client by colour or by attracting needs or by exceeding their expectation, so they come back to us and they remain loyal?

In your session at the Customer Experience Tech Fest you will talk about cultural transformation. In your work, what are the biggest negatives that organisations fall over when they're trying to achieve this transformation?

If leaders are self-centred they often don’t tune in to  either  their customers or staff. If their customer facing staff aren’t being heard then the customer relationship suffers. Essentially they are missing the whole point of improving customer experience. 

These staff have reward circles, so if you treat them well, their contact with the external customers are more likely to deliver the best customer experience for your organization because they feel rewarded. Its a game of brain reaction!!

Practising what you preach all the way through the organisation?

Yeah, if you remember in "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs", it was based on the theory that we all need to satisfy our survival needs first. In reality, based on the latest neuroscience findings, we now know that the first important aspect is to feel a sense of belonging.

Humans have a deep desire to belong, even more important than being fed. Since we are babies, we need to feel nurtured and taken care of, in order for our brains to feel at ease. As soon as the needs of our  “social brain” are not taken into consideration, the brain starts to behave differently.

If you could provide one tip to organisations, what would it be?

Treat the brain of your customers like you would want your brain to be treated. It’s almost how to develop a tribe, by understanding the brain of others, because what you want is followership. You want the people internally and externally to follow your vision, and achieve the strategy that you have planned.

Silvia Damiano presenting at the 2015 Customer Experience Tech Fest
Interview Originally Published here
Written by Ian Collier, Program Director at The Eventful Group.

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