Personalisation is the new magic word in service delivery. This practice is gaining popularity, but you’d notice that many brands are still struggling to figure out how to do it. It is time brands truly understand their customers as unique individuals. No more lumping us all together and making assumptions about our needs and desires…. These sentiments echo the voices of discerning customers in this age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where the marketplace is rapidly evolving, and the demand for tailored AI-driven experiences is soaring.
At its essence, personalisation revolves around acknowledging customers as distinct individuals and engaging with them in a manner that fosters a sense of uniqueness, appreciation, and understanding. In this digital era, personalisation transcends merely using a customer’s name in communication. It involves the delivery of highly customized, real-time recommendations based on the customer’s profile, behaviour, preferences, and location, as noted by Jim Marous in The Digital Banking Report, August 2018.
In this article, we will delve into the various sources of customer behaviour and the factors shaping their decision-making processes. By understanding these dynamics, brands can not only optimise their bottom-line but also capture and satisfy their customers' unique needs, surpassing their expectations.
Rational Versus Irrational Decision Making
Studies show that humans make over 35,000 decisions daily. As brands, it is crucial to recognize the diversity of decision-making processes our customers employ, ranging from highly rational to impulsive choices. This awareness informs how we present choices to our clients, understanding the impact on their decisions (a concept known as choice architecture). Rational decision-making relies on logic and objective judgment, involving a careful evaluation of expected outcomes, often making the process time-consuming. In contrast, irrational decision-making is driven by subjective and intuitive judgments, often made hastily with less regard for expected outcomes. Human beings, including our customers, operate using two systems of thinking, which explains why our judgments and decisions often deviate from formal notions of rationality.
Heuristics and Biases
Two very important concepts that brands need to be aware, which form major part of the sources of the human decision making are heuristics and biases. Heuristics are simple rule-of-thumb strategies or mental shortcuts used to quickly form judgements, decisions, and find solutions to complex problems with minimal mental efforts and avoiding cognitive overload. (Examples: trial and error, profiling, etc) These shortcuts and strategies most often lead to biases or systematic errors in our judgements and decision making.
Biases are inclinations towards or away from one way of thinking, or systematic errors in thinking that affect the decisions and judgements people make based on how one was raised. They distort and disrupt objective contemplation of an issue by introducing influencers into the decision-making process which are separate from the decision itself.
Also known as focalism, anchoring is a cognitive bias where an individual depends too heavily on an initial piece of information (anchor) offered when making a decision. Once the value of the anchor is set, subsequent arguments, estimates, etc made by the individual may change their decision from what it would have been without the anchor. We therefore need to be aware of this and be conscious of which portion of information we make available to our customers first when presenting various options for their decisions.
This describes when a group of individuals behave or perform actions that are highly correlated without any plans. Individuals have the tendency to mimic the actions of the larger group they belong to. As an example, people are mostly influenced by how much to contribute, when they see the size or amount of other members’ contributions coming through.
People are more likely to retain an object they own or stick to current practices than to acquire that same or similar object when they do not possess them. This is because they place a higher value on objects they must give up, than a similar object they must obtain.
Have you noticed that in a two-player contest, a bronze medalist is mostly happier than a silver medalist? Ideally a silver medalist should be happier than a bronze medalist, but the human mind doesn’t work this way and the reason has been shown through years of scientific research. This happens because of the phenomenon known as Counterfactual thinking. The silver medalist thinks, “Oh, I couldn’t win the gold medal. Why couldn’t I win the gold medal?”. The bronze medalist thinks, “At least I got a medal!”. The silver medal is awarded after losing, but the bronze medal is awarded after winning.
Having gained a deeper understanding of our customers and the factors influencing their judgments and behaviours, let’s note these behaviour-changing strategies. Lawyers, economists, marketers, and behavioural scientists each represent distinct approaches to driving desired behavioural changes. Whether through restriction, incentives, persuasion, or nudges (choice architecture), these approaches should consider feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and customer responses. As a business, when you think Personalisation, consider carefully curated strategies that ensure your clients are well understood. This will enable you to provide the right solutions at the right time using the right channels to ultimately meet their specific needs.