A recent article in the European Journal of Marketing, “Creating Customer Loyalty through Service Customization” authored by Pedro S. Coelho and Jörg Henseler, grabbed my attention. My initial reaction was, well of course --- no new insights there! Customers feel customized options are better because their problems are unique.
However, reading through the article and its own review of existing literature, I realized that I had fallen into the trap of many others:
“Given the organizational efforts involved in customization strategies, it is striking that the expected positive outcomes to be achieved by using customization are rather assumed or taken for granted than empirically validated.”
The article provides a great deal of empirical validation regarding customization and its impact on customer loyalty.
If you have a client interested in customization, I think a key takeaway table from the article is below:
Customization can be expensive, and as with any business decision, the potential for gain must be weighed against the costs. This article highlights that customers with current high levels of trust, but current low levels of satisfaction are the best targets for a customization plan. While a customer with current high levels of trust and satisfaction might enjoy a customization you offer, it may not yield the “bump in loyalty” you would expect.
While it may seem prudent to offer customization to your ‘best’ customer, it may in fact be better to target customization efforts on customers who currently have low levels of trust in your organization.
Customization is definitely on our clients’ minds and this article may give them something additional to consider. Also, often “trust” isn’t measured within customer experience surveys, it may be a question to consider adding in your next evaluation, especially if customization is on you radar.