5 factors that make customization mandatory in CX

CloudCherry | Featured | August 19, 2016

A major aspect that we all downplay about Customer Experience is that it is subjective to a large extent. That’s because you are dealing with individual people, each with their own personal experiences, coming from different cultural backgrounds and a myriad other factors that color their expectations.

Though it has been the common practice to view customers as a homogeneous mass when doing market research, this approach will not do your business any favors because the experiences are subjective.

What one customer might consider a mediocre experience might be a great experience for another customer. This is precisely why you can’t treat each one of your customers the same way. You need to understand the finer nuances and tread accordingly.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that influence the customer experience.

1. Geographical factors

Where a person lives will naturally influence their expectations. And it doesn’t even have to be in another country.

Someone from one area of a large city could have completely different expectations to someone in another part of a city, based on sub-culture, social class and more. Likewise, someone living in a densely populated urban area will have different expectations to someone living in a rural area.

And, of course, a customer living in one country could have completely different perceptions to someone living in a different country.

You can’t expect to treat a customer from the U.S. the exact same way you’d treat a customer from the United Arab Emirates. The culture is so different that what might appeal to someone from the U.S. could even be considered an insult to someone from the U.A.E.

McDonald’s is a great company to analyze in terms of adapting to local culture. For example, restaurants in Middle Eastern countries all serve halal food and do not offer pork. In basically every country where McDonald’s operates, they have certain items on the menu that are specific to the local culture and cuisine!

Another interesting example is how, in Japan, people are less price-sensitive than other countries. Coupled with a decline in population and an increase in one-person households, many mega chains that cater to larger families mainly, are having to shut down their stores.

2. Cultural Factors

Culture is one of the biggest influences in the development of consumer expectations and perceptions.

Culture is dictated by a number of things, including religion, customs, values and attitudes towards domestic life, literacy levels, political systems, music, arts, language and more. And people can carry their culture with them and nowhere is this more visible than in the U.S., which plays host to so many cultures.

We consider that culture is a separate issue to geography because once someone has left their home country, they adopt aspects of the new culture they are living in, while still keeping some of their traditional values, pretty much creating a new culture.

So, when you are designing your customer experience strategy, you have to take into account how a person’s culture will affect their reaction to your endeavors.

If you don’t, you could end up like Heineken. In 1994, the company printed the flags of all the countries that qualified for the World Cup Soccer Finals under the bottle cap of their leading brand of beer. This included the Saudi Arabian flag, which features a holy verse. Having a holy verse associated with alcohol angered Muslims all over the world forcing Heineken to end the promotion and recall all the associated bottles.

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3. Social Factors

Social class and other factors, including family, roles and reference groups will also impact a consumer’s perceptions.

People from similar social classes will have similar expectations and perceptions. And social class isn’t just dictated by income but by many other factors including education and occupation.

Family will also impact how someone perceives an experience as well as the role that person plays. For example, a man who is a CEO and a father will perceive an experience differently to a man who is only a CEO.

Not tailoring the customer experience by taking into account social factors can have a severely negative impact and you can end up offending an entire segment of your target market if you’re not careful.

4. Industry Factors

The customer experience also has to be tailored according to the industry and sector you are operating in. For example, a hotel will focus on helping guests immerse themselves in the local culture as well as making sure their every need is met and exceeded during their stay, which will make for a great customer experience.

Conversely, if you manufacture and sell steel parts for the auto industry, your customers will have completely different priorities and a different definition of what makes a customer experience.

5. Personal Factors

Someone’s age, occupation, lifestyle and personality will all influence how they perceive the customer experience. For example, a young person is more likely to expect to be able to reach you via digital means, whereas an elderly person might prefer the phone.

A CEO of a company might not be interested in promotions and could even find them annoying, whereas someone who is still at an entry level in their career will be more than happy to take advantage of any discounts. Someone who is environmentally conscious might not do business with a company that doesn’t employ green practices, whereas someone who is less focused on the environment might not care.

Some might say it is difficult to customize the customer experience down to such a narrow level, but that’s where giving your employees a little more freedom comes in.

Failing to account for the subjectivity in the customer experience can land you in a lot of hot water. You might think you’re offering a great experience only to discover that the customer experience is actually offending a segment of your market, as many very large companies have already discovered. And this is an even bigger issue nowadays, when customers expect more and more from the companies they do business with.

Of course, this can make customer experience management difficult. You have to go deeper into the customer feedback you collect and, essentially, segment your market almost down to the individual. This is where a good customer experience tool can help you. Such tools make life much easier when it comes to taking raw data and turning it into actionable insights.

Good customer experience management is all about understanding how subjective customer experience is and taking steps to customize it accordingly.

Investing in customer experience is one of the best decisions you will have to make for your business to turn around. Several brands across many industries from all over the globe have witnessed increased profitability and reduced churn by investing in CloudCherry.

What are you waiting for?