Most brands have a blind spot when it comes to understanding the emotions that drive customer loyalty, and they don’t fully understand the negative impact of failing to meet customers’ expectations, says a study of 20,000 consumers and 10,000 companies in 12 countries conducted by customer experience optimization platform InMoment.

Consumers, as well as companies, say “satisfaction” is the emotion most linked to positive brand experiences, though a bigger share of consumers cite it as the top emotion. Feeling safe and assured is the next most-cited emotion tied to positive brand experiences. Being made to feel important ranks third with consumers as an emotion associated with positive brand experiences, whereas feeling part of something special ranks third with companies.

Survey respondents used strong, personal language in the study to describe bad experiences, and their top emotions were “disappointed,” “disrespected” and “frustrated,” and across every market in the study used pointed language, including words like “impotence” (Spanish consumer), “rage” (Finnish consumer), and “inconsequential, worthless” (American consumer). Brands also ranked “disappointed” highest at 29 percent. However, they underestimated the rates at which consumers feel “disrespected” at just 13 percent, and consumers were nearly twice as likely as brands to say they associate the emotion of “anger” with bad experiences (19 percent versus 10 percent).

“Our previous two studies, as well as this year’s, confirm that customers increasingly see their interactions with brands as more relationship-oriented than transaction-based,” says Brennan Wilke, senior vice president of customer experience strategy at InMoment. “Customer expectations are actually very reasonable, so failing to deliver on the brand promise leaves them with strong, negative emotions. If the brand promise is in alignment with consumer expectations and consistently delivered, customers are much more likely to continue, and even grow, that relationship.”

James Bolle, vice president, head of client services, adds, “While there are variations from country to country, global customers are far more alike than they are different.They want brands to keep their promises and make an effort to personalize the support they offer across the entire customer journey. When brand promise delivery is aligned with customer expectations and being executed consistently, they should then look at investing in elements that surprise and delight.”

Download the full report here.