I’ve written about customer satisfaction and loyalty in Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Simplified to allow businesses to see where they ought to improve to meet the expectations of the customer. I mentioned how important customer loyalty is to businesses and how there is often a zone of indifference in what businesses do unless they greatly exceed the customer’s expectations. Have a read if you want to see the formulas to evaluate where businesses may be failing.
In this article I discuss the effects that customer traits have on customer satisfaction so that businesses can better understand how to target their customers.
The strength of the relationship between customer satisfaction and loyalty is STRONGLY influenced by characteristics of the customer such as gender; age; income; involvement and variety seeking.
GENDER: Women’s purchasing behaviour is found to be strongly influenced by their evaluation of personal interaction processes. Compared to men, women are more involved in purchasing activities paying more attention to the information given and attitudes of the sales personnel.
AGE: Information processing declines with age. Older people have restricted information-processing capabilities therefore they are more likely to rely on their crystallized abilities (their knowledge of specific problem content as a result of learning and experience over their lifetime). Younger people rely on the information available to them. Remember “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.
INCOME: Generally the higher the income, the higher level of education that person will have had. The higher the income, the more the customer focuses on the quality of the relationship with the service provider. The lower the income the more focus there is on the product. This is because the monetary risk will be perceived as higher and therefore the focus is on the quality of the product over the sales pitch.
INVOLVEMENT: The amount of involvement a person has with the product. The more relevant or important the product is, the more time is invested researching information and therefore the significance of a sales pitch is greatly reduced. The sales person can help to confirm ideas and beliefs thought by the customer (which will increase the likelihood of the purchase). Overall however product satisfaction becomes far more important.
An example of this is the time invested in buying a chocolate bar at a petrol station. You are in the queue and people are behind you. The cashier recommends the latest range of Maltesers and due the low importance and relevance of the product you go with the cashier’s choice. Now try buying a car with £30,000 that you saved. The sales person is telling you about the latest range of Vauxhall cars. However due to the importance of the product and the amount of money which you will have to invest you have done your research. You have spent hours trailing online, spoken to people about the cars you narrowed it down to and gone with your gut feeling on a Ford. The sales person is highly unlikely to change your mind on something which you have so much time and money invested in.
VARIETY SEEKING: Under certain conditions everyone has a need for variety in his daily life. When a customer seeks variety, they have wants and needs that often can’t be filled best by one brand. Customers will switch regardless of their satisfaction with the original brand e.g. a customer at a vending machine who is very satisfied with their Twix bar may fancy a change and purchase a Lion bar. There is little a company can do in these cases but continue to be reliable for when the customer returns.
Knowing these five characteristics of a customer could dramatically change the marketing techniques businesses use. There is no point throwing an overwhelming amount of information towards an old man. However there may be a benefit to having a persuasive and informative sales person when dealing with a middle-aged affluent woman.