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7 Things You Need to Know About the Psychology of Customer Service

Laduram Vishnoi
6 min read
7 Things You Need to Know About the Psychology of Customer Service

The secret to acquiring new customers, offering top notch customer service, and getting your existing customers to stick with you, is all in understanding consumer behavior.

When you fully grasp this all-important factor, you’ll learn what your customers really want from your business and how best to give it to them.

People yearn for a great customer experience, so by providing it you can  help your business to grow and retain customers.  According to ClaraBridge, “45% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer service.” Moreover, “83% of consumers need customer support while making an online purchase.”

who need customer support

Without satisfying your customers, you can’t succeed. But with lots of customers on your books, it can be difficult and prohibitively time-consuming to really try and understand them all.

Imagine how long you would need to get to know the preferences of 100,000 people. Even developing a very basic level of understanding is a daunting prospect.

In times gone by, this would have been nigh on impossible. But, thanks to technology, what was unthinkable before, is doable today.

Combining this with the wealth of tried and tested psychological research at your fingertips, you can create the conditions to motivate your customer service agents and deliver exceptional customer service.

Here are 7 tips to help you understand customer service psychology.

1.  Customers will pay more for a personalized service

“The goal of the company is to have customer service that is not the just the best, but legendary.” – Sam Walton

Personalization is the antithesis of boring customer service. No matter your sector, personalizing the experience is a great way to connect with your customers.

Don’t think of your customers as part of a homogenous group, but rather people who want to be treated as individuals. You have the power to do this and really excite them when they visit your website or store. In turn, your sales can increase by up to 19%.


In a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers tested what effect waiters providing mints along with the check had against a control group where no mints were given. The objective being to measure their effectiveness in increasing tips.

In the first group, waiters gave mints without mentioning them. Interestingly, this resulted in a 3% increase in tips against the control group.

But when the waiter brought the check and a few mints, then a short time late came back with another set of mints, letting the customers know they had brought more in case they wanted another, there was a 21% increase against control group.

Of course it’s not about the mints themselves, but the personalized experience they created.

Take this principle and implement it into your own business. You don’t have to run a restaurant to do it either. Even if you sell digital products, the opportunity is there.

If you don’t adopt a personalized approach, there are likely to be negative consequences. Data from MarketingCharts found that lack of personalization is one of the main reasons customers switch providers.

reasons switching service providers

From your homepage to your checkout page, and even post-purchase, you can use personalization to delight your customers.

When your customers come to you, are you thinking about the money, or their happiness? If you keep the customer front of mind, giving them that special treatment comes naturally — not just as an afterthought.

2.  Minimum parameters inspire customers to take action

Dr. Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, conducted a consumer study into the donation process for the American Cancer Society, and how a tiny change in what was said could dramatically improve results.

Here are two different phrases used to request a door-to-door donation. Researchers tested the effect of the slight variation in the copy (i.e., wording).

(1). “Would you be willing to help by giving a donation?”

(2). “Would you be willing to help by giving a donation? Every penny will help.”

Can you guess which of these questions generated the best results?

Researchers found that people who received the second variation were more likely to donate, showing how people are more willing to take action when minimum parameters are set.

best result

People like to be specific, and they want to make an impact. That’s exactly what the second variation communicated.

If you want to offer invaluable customer service, eliminate confusion. Show people what they stand to gain, and be clear in communicating it. Instead of telling a customer that you’ll give them a call in the morning, tell them the exact time (e.g., I’ll call you by 9.30 am tomorrow, is that ok?).

3. Be active on social media


Being active on social media platforms means customers can satisfy their need to get in touch with you immediately and feel heard.

According to one report, more than 2.7 billion users were active on social media in 2017 highlighting the level of reach on offer. Providing customer service through social media also creates a way of converting customers into brand advocates through their sharing of experiences.

4. Learning new things changes customers’ brains - even if they’re older

When you’re dealing with customers, focus on educating them on the value of your product, not the price.

educate customer

Whenever you teach, instruct, guide, give insights, or recommend a new idea or thought to your customers, this engages their brain. If they were thinking of switching to another brand, they’ll start to re-evaluate this.

Research shows, “Learning causes changes in your hippocampus.”, meaning that, as Meg Selig in Psychology Today puts it, “enriching your mind by learning new things rewires your brain,”.

Educate customers on how to use your product, how to upgrade or downgrade, or anything that would change their brain in a positive way.

5.  Customers want to hear your brand story

Are you ready to create a memorable customer experience in real-time? If you are, then you need to tell your brand story.

Marcus Sheridan, the founder of River Pools and Spas, was on the verge of calling it quits — he dabbled into all sorts of marketing strategies but none of them produced the desired outcome.

Then he started telling his brand story, and, something happened. His Fiberglass Pools Company, once nose-diving, suddenly burst into life. Clients who were paying thousands of dollars to have a pool installed in their homes started to trust Marcus and his team.

As the research work led by Melanie Green and Timothy Brock shows, persuading people by telling them stories works extremely well — especially when the story is relevant to your offer in some way.

Through storytelling, you can really engage customers without needing to directly ask them to buy your product. You don’t even have to tell customers how great your product/service is, just tell them a short story of how it helped someone else.

Don’t focus on the product, focus on the benefits.

6.  Address customers by their names and they’ll remember your brand

This may seem very simple, but it’s still a very good way of weaving personalization into your operations. Several studies show people will stay loyal if you always address them in this way. Hearing “your name” reaffirms your own unique individuality.

I’m sure you, along with many others, would like to visit a store where the salesperson knows you by name.

Get to know your customers’ names and use them, it will impact the customers’ positive view of you in a number of other areas, a phenomenon often referred to as “Halo Effect.”

7.  Encourage customers to identify with your brand

If you can get your customers to believe in your brand, they will stick with you, and tell others about how great you are.

To do this, you need to make them feel good. Partly this comes from addressing their needs with your product, but the overall experience they have with you is vital. Give your customers positive reasons to talk about you, think about you, and keep you front of mind.

In time, customers come to strongly identify with you. Think of how successfully a company like Apple has done this.

With your brand embedded in their thinking, you will quickly come to mind for any other relevant needs, or when advising others how to address their own needs.

The last word

Don’t approach customer service half-baked. Make it the core of your marketing strategy, in fact your business as a whole, because it controls marketing, sales, technical, even your managerial departments, and their decision making processes to boot.

Learn to listen to customers. Give them opportunities to speak, and when speaking to them, do so with respect — knowing that by using “positive language”, you create the happy customers your business needs to thrive in this competitive era.

If these above tips are applied correctly, understanding the psychology of customer service becomes a whole lot more manageable.

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