Why Product Customization is Important for Customer Satisfaction

Imagine opening your Netflix account and seeing four independent Turkish television shows, an advertisement for a German movie, and three movies you’ve already seen, but didn’t really like. Not very helpful, right? Fortunately, Netflix has customized their product in a way that will please their users. The home screen shows the viewers content that is customized to their preferences, and the lists are tailored to pique their interest and show them what they need. Unfortunately they haven’t come up with a way to get all the members of your family to agree on which movie to watch, but it’s not long before they figure that out! 

Product customization is the key to serving your customer base successfully. Not all of your customers want the same thing or use your product the same way. Product customization is essential for delivering a personalized customer experience to each segment of users, and can drive customer loyalty and increase customer satisfaction

Not All Your Customers are the Same

Regardless of whether you sell a physical product or online software, your customer base has different wants and needs. Remembering that all of your customers are different, is critical to create a product that is attractive to as many people as possible. As the old saying goes – if you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one. Instead of being just generally suitable for your clientele, you can customize your product to be specifically perfect to every different segment of users. 

Millennials are particularly attracted to the idea of customization. In the book Custom Nation, Anthony Flynn and Emily Flynn Vencat explain that, “millennials (13 to 31-year-olds) have grown up with customization, and naturally expect it in every aspect of their lives.” Brands have been developed around the idea of hyper-personalization, which makes it possible for everyone to get exactly what they want at the press of a button. 

Customers love things made just for them

Customization is a great business strategy because it makes customers happier; and happy customers are repeat customers! In retail, Deloitte found that 1 out of every 5 customers is willing to pay 20% more for a personalized or exclusive product. Similarly a 2012 study on customization found, “customization increases perceived service quality, customer satisfaction, customer trust, and ultimately customer loyalty toward a service provider.” 

Why? For the very simple value that customization brings to the customer. Customers who can customize their experience find value either through exclusivity, in the form of a personalized, unique product,  or specificity in the form of a feature that works in a way that they would like.  

Customization as a Feature

There’s no denying that customization is an expensive affair. It takes time and money to offer multiple versions of the same product. Your development team needs to dedicate resources to building out new customization options. There’s also a higher risk factor, since more customization means more complexity. In retail, this might look like you are shipping the wrong customized product. In software, you might see bugs pop up as there are more and more different ways to use your product, that you may not have even thought of testing yet. 

All this means that you need to treat customization like any other feature in your product. Decide whether it’s worth it to add more complexity to the product. Are users asking for what you’re thinking of building? How much time will it take to build and support this feature? What else will be impacted by this customization? Will the additional customization support or devalue your existing brand? 

The most important questions to ask when considering customization is “who are my customers?” and “what do they really want?” The answers to this question will help you identify places where customization can really help boost customer loyalty and satisfaction. 

Finding Places to Customize

Instead of trying to make everything customizable, it’s important to be methodical about offering options to your users. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a product that’s overly confusing and complicated. Remember when Homer Simpson tried to make a car that did everything? Try being Simpson and you’ll just have a useless, albeit humorous, product on hand. 

Instead of aiming to customize everything, look at who your users are, and what they want to be able to do. This will help identify the most important opportunities for customization. 

User Personas

The first step to identifying potential customization opportunities is by understanding the different people who use your product. Creating user personas can help illustrate the different segments of your user base. According to the Interaction Design Foundation, user personas are: 

“Fictional characters that designers use, to reflect user types by pinpointing who they are and what they do with products in relevant contexts. Designers create personas from user data, to understand user characteristics, needs, and goals, and gain valuable insights into user journeys, and later, test prototypes.” 

There’s a lot of helpful information contained within a user persona! In particular, understanding needs, goals and user journeys will help showcase where your customers could be getting more value from your product, if it was slightly customized to their needs. That might be something as simple as the language they use for work, the jobs that need to get done, or their style preferences. For example, Netflix creates user personas to identify what each type of viewer wants out of their Netflix experience. This helps them pare down their enormous catalog of content to create a custom experience for every type of user.  

User personas can be especially handy for products that cater to a variety of stakeholders. If the people purchasing the product, the people who use it everyday, and the ones generating monthly reports, are all different people, user personas can show you what each type of stakeholder needs. If you don’t allocate individual value to all three types of users, it leads to customers churning, because the person paying the bills or making the decisions may not realize how helpful the product is to the frontline teams. 

Feature requests

The second way to find opportunities to enhance customer satisfaction through customization, is to look at what customers are already asking to do. 

Customization doesn’t add an entirely new workflow, it usually only modifies an existing feature. For example, if customers want to add a date range to an existing report, or would like to update a dashboard in a particular way, those are customization requests. 

To understand what customers are asking for, look closely at your customer support tickets and feedback forum. Tagging incoming customer conversations with “feature-request” or “customization” can make it easier for product teams to pull reports based on what customers want. 

Customization Boosts Customer Satisfaction

Allowing your customers to customize their experience is a clever way to stand apart from the competition. After all, who knows what they need, better than the customer themselves? 

Look for ways to offer a unique and personalized experience to customers at each stage of their journey. When you understand the different types of customers that purchase from you, it becomes clear how each of their needs differ. By catering to these needs specifically, you can boost customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.