Personalisation: The new customer experience currency


Personalisation is the new magic word in service delivery. This practice is gaining popularity, but you’ll notice that many brands are still struggling to figure out how to do it.  It is time for brands to 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 customised, 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 delve into 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 recognise 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 effort 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 toward or away from one way of thinking, or systematic errors in thinking which affect the decisions and judgements people make based on how one was raised. They distort and disrupt objective contemplation of an issue by introducing influences into the decision-making process which are separate from the decision itself.


Also known as focalism, anchoring is a cognitive bias when an individual depends too heavily on an initial piece of information (anchor) offered when making a decision. Once the anchor’s value 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.

Herd Behaviour

This describes when a group of individuals behave or perform actions that are highly correlated without any plans. Individuals have the tendency to mimic 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.

Endowment Effect

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.

Counterfactual Thinking

Have you noticed that in multi-player contests a bronze medallist 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 medallist thinks, “Oh, I couldn’t win the gold medal. Why couldn’t I win the gold medal?”.   But the bronze medallist thinks, “At least I got a medal!”


Having gained a deeper understanding of our customers and the factors influencing their judgment and behaviour, let’s note these behaviour-changing strategies. Lawyers, economists, marketers and behavioural scientists each present 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.

Wilson Mensah Agyei, Head-Personalisation, Stanbic Bank Ghana

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