Great Customer Experience: A Product of Nature or Nurture?


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Attempting to understand the human behaviour and trait has informed one of the greatest debates of all times- nature vs. nurture. Nature looks at an individual’s innate qualities (i.e. nativism and genes) while nurture focuses on personal experiences (i.e. environmental and external influence). We would briefly look at both arguments and see how that relates to customer experience.

Nature Argument: Proponents on this side of the argument view nature as ingrained in the genes hence, physical and personality traits determined by genes remain the same irrespective of where one was born or raised. Several studies have shown how important nature is in determining personality traits of individuals as against environmental factors. Hereditary traits, which are an integral element of the nature argumentative standpoint, cite how identical twins reared apart are more similar than a randomly selected duo. In the same regard, identical twins are considered to be more similar than fraternal twins. In line with this finding, it is also believed that biological siblings have more similarity in personality than adoptive siblings. The gene plays a major factor to the nature school of thought as behaviours and personality are considered to be hereditary. Bob Holmes and Kate Douglas carried out a study to understand what the characteristics of a human being are by nature and they drew up these conclusions:
– Skills: They conceived that the human by nature has a more variety of entertainment and plays than other mammals. The human by nature, likes to enjoy himself and have fun in a variety of ways.
– Scientific: Human by nature seems to have a curiosity for knowledge which leads him to making predictions and testing those predictions.
– Behaviour: According to the researcher’s human by nature like a legislative system where laws maintain decorum and order.
– Language: The research work revealed that a common trait of a human being is the desire to communicate in a wide array of ways. It is an innate desire and one which distinguishes the human race from other mammals

Nurture Argument: Thinkers in this school of thought argue that humans acquire all or most of their behavioural traits from nurture and which are known as tabula rasa (blank slate). According to John Locke, the great philosopher, every human is born without built-in mental content. According to the nurture theorist or epistemologist, knowledge is a product of experience and perception.

Great customer experience scenario:

I made a quick stop at one of the Iceland stores to buy some energy drink about a few days ago, realised it was a very busy Saturday and the queue was extending in a frightening manner. I joined the queue with about six other customers ahead of me. I put on my headphones- realising it might be a long wait as most of the shoppers have family portions in their shopping cart. I had only a pack of energy drink but was prepared to wait it out until it gets to my turn. The line was slowly reducing as I had four more shoppers ahead of me, then the cashier at a neighbouring till point, beckoned at me. I was slow to respond due to the distraction caused by my headphones, after the third attempt by her it became clear she asked, ‘Is that all you are paying for?’ I responded yes albeit, surprised and taking aback to why she was asking. She then reached out and scanned my item through and made me leave much earlier than anticipated. I was a bit surprised as to how she was able to see the little item I had when the positioning of her till meant her back was against our queue. I left the store touched, impressed with her service and quizzed within myself, ‘Was that great service a product of nature of nurture?’ Wondering if she was naturally a very considerate, kind-hearted, observant and nice person or if her family values and environment were responsible? Or maybe Iceland had nurtured her to treat customers in such an outstanding manner? I was deeply doubtful if Iceland’s customer experience training program was solely or largely responsible as that was the first time I received a touching and thoughtful service in my seven years of shopping at Iceland.

Great Customer Experience: A product of Nature via Nurture:

Matt Ridley, one of the greatest contributors to behavioural studies brought a great balance to the debate between nature and nurture. His research on genome or DNA revealed that human beings have around 30,000 genes which are not enough to explain all the traits exhibited by an individual. He opined, ‘Nurture depends on genes (nature), too, and gene (nature) needs nurture.”

Exceptional customer experiences are not solely borne out of the good nature of the employees or the importance of a nurturing environment but the interplay of both. Capturing and delivering exceptional customer experience needs to be a sum total of nature and nurture elements- understanding the importance of both sides of the coin makes customer experience a valuable currency to an organisation.

Dateme Tamuno
Dateme Tamuno (Tubotamuno) is currently working as part of the SEO and PPC delivery team for UK based digital agency, Cariad Marketing. He has also completed a book on user-generated content marketing.


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