Tailoring experiences to customer mindsets

Why brands should not only tune into the voice of the customer, but also their mindset

Chanice Henry

image of customer mindset

Personalization has now become a staple expectation from many customers. Award-winning author and professor of cognitive neuroscience Tali Sharot inspired MaritzCX’s 2019 Experience Forum in New York with her findings on the power of tailoring experiences to the mental state of customers.

Tali told the delegates that the way a certain service or product makes a customer feel will impact how they value it and, ultimately, whether they want to invest time and money into it.

To enhance the traction of interactions with customers, brands should acknowledge key variables that have the power to influence their decision making. Here, we list a set of psychological factors that Tali says should be factored into customer engagement strategies.


Stress interferes with the way individuals cognitively process information, with people under more stress in general being more likely to react negatively in situations. In practice, stressed customers are likely to have less patience with service interruptions or slow resolutions when interacting with a company.

In her session, Tali explained that studies have mapped generational trends in stress levels, with the highest stress levels occurring for middle aged adults. Companies’ response to this could be to tailor interactions to customers within certain age ranges.

One way to reassure and calm individuals is to give them the perception of control, says Tali. For instance, if a brand was planning to introduce a new admin charge, it should apply added thought on how the news is communicated to middle-aged customers, as they are already at high risk of stress. Rather than inducing added anxiety by completely removing their agency, better results could be had from briefly explaining the reason for the new fee, outlining the functionality’s benefits and then providing the customer with an alternative cost-effective route using self-serve channels.

Businesses should think about what customers might find stressful and take steps to address these issues. Ikea provides self-serve pencils and tape measures, for example, and some cinemas have autism-friendly screenings. An inventive response to customers’ concerns could work as an apt strategy for engagement. 

Read also: Winning tactics for B2B customer experience


Another way for brands to reduce stress for customers is to eliminate or de-mystify factors customers may be dreading. Customers who may be nervous about the total cost of an upcoming bill may have their anxiety reduced by being given progress updates or early access to view the bill. On the reverse of this, brands can foster positive experiences for customers by creating anticipation for positive things that they can look forward to. In many cases the anticipation is the most positive part of the experience, maintains Tali.

She points to research that uncovered that pre-holiday happiness was, in many cases, stronger than the joy experienced on the holiday itself.

Companies can try excitement-evoking strategies through sending the customer enthusiastic updates about a recent purchase.

Social influence

Just over 90 per cent of customers in a recent survey admitted that an online review has convinced them to avoid a business. Tali points to the findings of a study showing that although the aggregate amounts on product ratings will impact an individual’s opinion on the product, the debut review is the most significant. The research found that if the first review was five stars the rest of the reviews were 20 per cent more likely to be positive. Conversely, subsequent reviews were 20 per cent more likely to be negative when the first review was one star.

The ubiquity of social media has intensified the reach and prevalence of social influence. Tali notes: “Any experience we have will be evaluated in light of what we see around us. If we see that other people have had a better experience than us [regarding a certain service] that will have a negative [impact] on our own evaluation of it.”

She provides the example of a customer being content with the experience they had at a hotel. The process of discovering that the hotel has only received bad reviews online will affect the individual’s perception of their own experience in order to fall in line with the majority.

“That not only shapes what they would say in their own review, they would rate it lower, but it would also shape what they would think of their experience at the hotel.” adds Tali.

CX professionals need to ensure that their brand is responsive to reviews, especially those on a public platform, to show your company appreciates the opinions of customers and is taking action to improve. Utilize this feedback to make widespread changes that will prevent the negative drivers behind these reviews from arising again.

To upgrade the quality of brand-to-customer interactions, businesses should consider tuning into the mindset of customers to positively impact their buying decisions and loyalty levels.

For more information on the 2019 MaritzCX’s Experience Forum in New York, click here to read about the Elite Award winners revealed at the event.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels


Tali Sharot
Award-winning author
Professor of cognitive neuroscience