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Culture and Sensitivity: The Great Customer Relationship Tools

Home Blog Culture and Sensitivity: The Great Customer Relationship Tools

By Bill Stelzer, Consultant, Live at Home

Sensitivity can be defined as understanding your customer and your customer’s expectations, concerns, and issues, which can lead you to developing a great relationship with that customer. Understanding your customer begins with the culture of that particular individual. Each Individual’s culture is different from all others. Even twins who are raised together have differing individual cultures.

Let’s define the term culture: (noun) “A complex system of underlying beliefs, attitudes, and actions that shapes thoughts and behaviors of a group of people, distinguishing them from other groups” (Friend 2010, pg.68)

An individual’s culture consists of the underlying and developed standards and characteristics that pertain to that specific individual. In a manner of speaking, you could say, “This is why people make the choices they make.” These standards and characteristics are developed from the many aspects of that individual's life: upbringing, education, locations they have lived, religious background, genetics, relationships, as well as the many other experiences they have encountered throughout a lifetime. This is what makes each of us different from anyone else.

Some of these influences on an individual’s specific culture can be broken down into the following categories: macroculture, microculture and in some cases subculture. We need to have a good understanding how and why every person’s culture is different.

While many types and variations of culture have been identified, we will focus on three broad categories: Macroculture, Microculture, and Subculture. Our definitions of each can be found at:

Macroculture: (noun) Sometimes called over culture. The dominant culture of a whole society, whose mores, traditions, and customs are those normally followed in public.

Microculture: (noun) A distinctive culture shared by a small group that is often based on location or within an organization. A microculture has a unique identity within and as part of the macroculture.

Subculture: (noun) A group of people within a larger culture that differentiates itself from the parent culture to which it belongs, often maintaining some of its founding principles. While exact definitions vary, the Oxford English Dictionary defines a subculture as "a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture.”

In summary, macroculture unifies members of a society and defines them to others, while microculture distinguishes and enhances characteristics of a segment of that society, and subculture distinguishes differences and conflicts of a segment of that society.

A person’s individual culture reflects their own personal values, how they prefer to act, how they like to be treated, and how they treat others. Learning and understanding this gives you the foundation for developing a great relationship with an individual customer so you can fully understand that customer’s concerns, better meet that customer’s expectations, and it opens the door to solving that customer’s issues with your excellent solutions.

In future blogs and the “Great Customer Satisfaction comes from the Great Staff Sensitivity Skills” that I will be presenting at Heartland Conference, we will delve deeper into the topic of developing stronger customer relationship by understanding them, gaining their respect and trust while providing them with excellent and appropriate solutions to their specific issues.

Ref: Friend, M. P. (2005). Multicultural and Bilingual perspectives. Special education: contemporary perspectives for school professionals (). Boston: Pearson/A and B.