One size rarely fits all. It seems obvious, right? Well, apparently it is not, judging by the frequency with which companies have a customer service strategy that forces its agents to treat everyone based on the same template, the same speech, and the same rules…
We are in times when customers are empowered. They know what they want, when they want it and how they want it. Clients are clearly in charge, and when companies take this into account and take measures to give personalized customer attention, the companies (and the customers of course) are the winners.
Empowered clients have really high expectations and do not settle for an average experience. They want their providers to know them, to take into account their personal needs, their tastes and expectations and offer them a service in accordance with those.
The days of mass production and mass communication are over. We have entered an era where offering a personalized experience can have important income implications. Across the board, consumers are craving a more individualized experience. A recent report from Accenture states that among 20-30-year-olds in the US and UK, 73% prefer to do business with brands that use their information to make experiences more efficient.
The information exchange balance, where consumers are willing to give up some of their information, is based on a trust that the information will be used for their benefit. A study revealed that 57% of consumers don’t have a problem providing personal information as long as it’s for their benefit. In customer service, tailored recommendations and relevant offers are ways to ensure that every customer’s experience is unique. Methods like these also benefit the company, of course, by increasing conversion rates to drive better engagement. It’s a win-win.
The landscape of customer service is drastically changing. Companies are utilizing data to prioritize offers, deliver personalized experiences, and give systematized guidance — all in an effort to provide an improved interactive experience. Personalization has its challenges, but with a little bit of guidance and the right tools, delivering individualized customer experiences can be very profitable.
Some ways you can provide a more personalized customer service:
- Use their name. You may want to learn the names of your loyal and frequent customers, so you and your employees can greet them by name. You can also use your customers’ names in communications with them, whether that’s a direct mail or email newsletters.
Consider having your customer service reps use their real names, too, in emails, chats, phone calls or other interactions with customers. It can be a lot more personal than communicating with ServiceRepresentative@YourBusiness.com.
- Smile and make eye contact. This may sound obvious, but it’s something too many front-line employees fail to do. As texting and social media replace face-to-face communications, we’re increasingly seeing a lack of basic social skills among young, entry-level employees. Consider training everyone for giving customers a friendly greeting and pleasant smile and looking them straight in the eye.
- Offer multiple customer service channels. Some customers like to get help via live chat, others would rather send an email, and still, others want to talk to a live person on the phone.
By providing multiple touch points for accessing customer service, you can allow customers to personalize their experience using the method(s) they prefer.
- Be human. Have you ever talked to a customer service representative who you could tell was just reciting answers off a script? It can make you feel like they aren’t really listening to you.
Contrast that with customer service reps who chat with you while they’re working on your issue. Something as simple as asking a customer how the weather is where they are or if they have fun plans for the weekend can help humanize the experience.
- Collect and share customer data. This is really, really important. Customer relationship management (CRM) software or a help desk software lets you maintain detailed records about your customers and their previous interactions with your business. If your customer service employees can all access this information, they can then personalize interactions by referencing previous orders or past service issues.
- Make recommendations. Using information about customers’ past purchasing behaviors can help make it easier for you to recommend new products they might like. For instance, a retailer could make suggestions when customers visit the store or send them an email or text message when new products come in that they might like.
Four key considerations in creating individual experiences:
But if individualized experiences are so good, why do not more companies provide them? One of the reasons is that they are difficult to correct and to implement. That’s why it makes sense to work with a partner who can provide the necessary experience to develop and execute a successful strategy. Here are four examples you should consider during that process:
- Determine how individualization fits and promotes your digital and corporate strategies. For example, individualized experiences could be part of a broader strategy to retain high-value customers. Or they could be part of a savings strategy anticipating the needs and desires of the customer, thus reducing the costs of the call center. Either way, do not rush into individualized experiences simply because you have large volumes of data and feel compelled to do something with that, or because it seems cool. Take the time to determine exactly how individualized experiences can benefit your customers and the company.
- Know what counts. In-depth customer research is a proven CX tool that is used to help identify the individualized experiences that are most important to your customers. You should not create an individualized experience just to do it or because it is trendy. Choose the moment or the wrong strategy and you will be wasting money and risking having annoying customers.
- Test with real customers. Even the most diligent initial analysis does not guarantee that individualized experiences will resonate, so test some clients first instead of all. It seems obvious, but many companies do not do it or do it well. A / B tests are also good for testing different messages or scripts. It can be very surprising to see what resonates with specific customer segments.
- Do not go overboard. Make sure that customers can still find things they have not searched before. One way is by offering options that the client rarely uses or consumes, rather than completely neglecting them. Do not panic, either, offering things that make customers think: “This company knows too much about my personal habits.”
The moral of the story?
Turn on your senses and pay attention. It takes a ton of mental focus and endurance to do this for every customer, but the benefits are obvious. Your customers can go get the product or service they need anywhere. Assuming you’re providing top notch service already, in the end, they’re going to choose you because you understand their specific needs and make them feel special. That’s how you deal a death blow to indifference.
With the implementation of effective, multi-channel personalization technology and practices — along with an emphasis on utilizing customer data — we can only hope that the organizations we interact with on a regular basis will provide more relevant, individualized experiences for each of us.