How to Improve Customer Satisfaction – Eric Berne’s Three Ego States

7 min read
Sep 22, 2017
  • Post on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Post on LinkedIn
  • Post on Reddit
  • Copy link to clipboard
    Link copied to clipboard
Hope love faith neon sign how to improve customer satisfaction

Some time ago, I read a mind-opening book about communication in relationships.

In the chapter dedicated to emotions, the author stated that the unconditional love happens between parents and their children only. Not really surprising, I know.

But what the author also stated was that in all other relationships, we love because we have a reason to do so.

At first, I was quite grumpy about this statement. Do we really love our partners or friends because of something? Come on! Don’t we just love for the sake of love?

But the more I thought about it, the more I started to understand the author’s point of view.

For example, most of us have an ex-partner. We used to love each other, but at some point, something caused us to go apart. We broke up because of unmet expectations, because of unacceptable behavior or because we grew, and the other person didn’t.

But it means that if there are reasons why we cease to love, there are also reasons why we do love. And in most cases, we love people because they make us happy.

This simple rule of happy relationships can be extended to every area of our lives. We have relationships with our jobs. Musicians have relationships with their fans. Businesses have relationships with their customers.

So today, I will help you to give your customers good reasons to stay with you. I will show you how to meet their needs and how to improve customer satisfaction. All that thanks to three Eric Berne’s “ego states.”

Glasses blur book

Eric Berne’s science of affection

Before we get to making customers happy, let’s understand how customers can fall in love with your brand.

Contrary to what people think, falling in love is not the matter of destiny. We tend to have feelings for people, events or things that are compatible with ourselves and that meet our needs.

According to Eric Berne, there are three kinds of needs, driven by three “ego states:” the parent, the child, and the adult.

The parent represents everything you’ve been taught. The child relates to your emotions and the adult - to everything you’ve ever learned.

Let’s translate it to the language of relationships. When you meet another person, the three ego states make you ask them:

The parent: Do you have similar values and beliefs about the world?

The child: Do you have fun together? Can you be spontaneous?

The adult: Does each person think the other is bright? Are you good at solving problems together?

The more “yeses” you have, the more you benefit from a relationship and the more probable it is that you are close to this person.

For example, let’s take a look at your partner.

You probably share the same values, right? You use to have great fun together and, of course, you’re both helping yourselves in tough moments. It means that you connect on all three levels of ego and probably the same thing would apply to your friends and family.

A good news for brand owners is, you can also meet the needs of your customers. It will help you to gain their satisfaction and build affection towards your brand.

Three levels of customer satisfaction

Let’s repeat it: every ego state of your customer represents different needs. In order to improve the satisfaction of your customers (make them happy), you have to meet at least one of them.

Below, you will find all these levels of needs explained; it will help you to evaluate what kind of ego state is closest to you. It will also help you to see how you can improve your business to connect with your customers on other levels.

1. The adult: reasonable needs

“Will you help me to solve my problems? Will I benefit from this relationship?”

On this level of connection, you need to make sure that:
- Your product/service fulfills your customer’s needs,

- You can help them whenever they need you (customer support, knowledge base).

If you decide to appeal to this level of needs, you need to focus on benefits you can give to your customers.

Example: /Can't help but mention the example that's close to my heart!/

Let’s say you own an online store and you’re thinking about how you can gain more customers, earn more, pay off debts and enjoy your life. You install LiveChat on your website and start offering also online support to your customers.

What do you get from this relationship:

- An app that will guarantee you more sales (a product/service),

- A 24/7 support ready to help you whenever you need (customer service),

- A LiveChat knowledge base (self-service),

- Lots of resources helping you to become a better entrepreneur (content marketing).

2. The child: spontaneous, emotional needs

“How do I feel about being in touch with you? Is it fun?”

Companies that make a good use of this level of connection make sure that their customers are always entertained, they try to unleash the inner child in their customers.

On this level of connection:
- Your product is used for entertainment (food, gear, cloths etc.),

- You need to make sure your customers are engaged even when they are not using your product (social media, newsletters, a blog).


RedBull is one of most famous and loved energy drinks. It was first introduced in 1987 and from the very beginning the company engaged in sweet relationship with sports. Now, RedBull is not only a name of a drink, it’s a synonym of sport, adventure and life.

What do you get from this relationship:

- A boost of energy during the day (let’s skip the health part),

- A lot of sport and adventure inspiration (documentaries, videos and interviews),

- A lot of fun/blood-chilling entertainment (social media).

3. The parent: the need to belong

“Do they share values with me? Are they similar to me?”

This level of connection is used mostly by the companies with strong brand identity. Such companies declare their vision and come up with a mission they want to achieve. They create a sense of belonging; company’s customers share the same values and identify with them.


Patagonia is a company that turned its concern about the environment into its trademark. Established by Yvon Chouinard, a Yosemite rock climber, surfer, and nature-lover, it puts great pressure on environmental activity and sustainable business practices.

What do you get from this relationship:

- High-end gear for sports and outdoor clothing (a product),

- Satisfaction of wearing 100% eco-friendly clothing (cause marketing),

- Inspiration (documentaries that show the beauty of the world; social media),

- A good feeling that you support the cause (the company donates one percent of sales or ten percent of profits, whichever was the greater, to environmental groups).

How to improve customer satisfaction

A relationship with a customer is similar to a relationship with your spouse.

Regardless of the affection you have for each other, it’s all about hard work and consistency. You can improve customer satisfaction by delivering a great product and exceptional customer service and that’s one hell of a job!

But apart from that, you still need to focus on customer-centricity (doing business in a way that provides a positive customer experience before and after the sale). You also still need to gather customer feedback to be aware what you’re doing right and wrong.

Of course, and there’s also the whole customer-centric marketing: content, social media and community marketing. You should do it too.

But the good thing is that the more work you put in, the greater the reward. Customer satisfaction has a lot of business benefits that turn all the job into a necessity.

Customer satisfaction reduces churn and new customer gaining expenses helps to build loyalty and increases customer lifetime value. It also reduces negative word of mouth and makes you stand out from the competition.

So the next time you think about how to improve customer satisfaction, you need to remember that it works the same way every relationship does. The success is the matter of work and time. But I hope that thanks to Eric Berne’s levels of satisfaction it will be much easier for you to nail it.

Get a glimpse into the future of business communication with digital natives.

Get the FREE report