How to Ensure Personalized Customer Service Every Single Time
Customers value personalization. In fact, over seven out of 10 consumers1 express frustration when their shopping experience is impersonal. Personalization makes for happier customers. And this makes for better business.
Nearly 40% of consumers2 opt for more expensive options than originally intended, and 44% are more likely to become repeat buyers, after a great personalized experience.
But the problem is that businesses aren’t always living up to customers’ expectations. Almost one-third of customers say that their customer experiences aren’t as personalized as they would like.
However, there are some straightforward and simple steps that you can take to ensure your customers have a great personalized experience every single time.
But first, let’s dive into what kinds of personalization customers care about the most.
What Kind of Personalization Matters
While customers value personalization, not any kind will do.
Personalization based on certain factors can have a negative effect. For example, 92% of consumers3 are not likely to respond to marketing emails that address them by name. Moreover, 93% of people are unlikely to engage with birthday emails.
So, what are people looking for?
People do not want personalization that is based on superficial factors such as their name or birth date. They want services and content that appear like they’ve been tailored for them.
Providing shopping suggestions and products based on past purchases is one form of personalization that people value. In fact, 62% of consumers say it’s acceptable for companies to send personalized offers/discounts based on items they’ve already purchased.
Companies can use dynamic fields and predictive intelligence tools to modify advertisements and offers based on customer behavior.
Personalization within search engine marketing generates the biggest conversion for businesses. Around 39% of marketers4 reported seeing a ‘major uplift’ from it and just 7% reported no impact. In fact, personalized CTAs (calls-to-action) converted 202% better5 than default versions.
When we dig further into what the most effective businesses are doing, the importance of predictive intelligence is even more significant.
The reason behind this is that predictive intelligence tools make it easier to track customer behavior. Marketers can then use this data to create highly personalized interactions.
But predictive tools aren’t enough, especially when it comes to customer service.
Customer service interactions provide additional challenges and demands that are not present when planning front-end marketing campaigns. This is why embracing these steps is important for ensuring that your customer service is personalized every single time.
1. Use Touch Points to Collect Information
Your company most likely offers a number of channels through which customers can interact with your business, such as
- company website
- Facebook page
- Facebook Messenger
- a physical store
- a call center
- third-party websites (such as Shopify or Amazon)
- other social media platforms
Every individual interaction provides a new opportunity for you to collect information about this customer. You can learn more about:
- who they are
- where they’re from
- what they’re struggling with
- what will satisfy them
A great way to create profiles, integrated across channels, is with a loyalty program.
Let’s say you have a rewards card, and every member has their own rewards card number. If they’re prompted to input this number during any interaction with your company, it can quickly track, compile, and centralize their data for you.
You can also allow users to create their own loyalty profiles. This gives you an opportunity to prompt for interests, hobbies, and other data that can help personalize offers and interactions.
2. Develop Customer Profiles
Some customer service interactions will be one-on-one, such as a customer calling the service center. In these situations, it’s possible, and useful, to use individual customer information.
However, there will be other scenarios where this is not the case. For example, if you’re using a chatbot or other form of automated interaction, this becomes challenging.
These are the scenarios where you need to rely on customer profiles and buyer personas to help you personalize. This way, even when someone new is asking your chatbot a question, you can personalize their results based on what has helped similar customers.
You can use the data you’ve collected through customer touchpoints to identify trends and patterns throughout your customer base. This will allow you to develop separate buyer personas for each segment of your market.
Depending on your audience diversity, you will likely need to create between three and five separate personas6.
3. Use Machine Learning to Customize Market Segments
Predictive intelligence tools and other forms of machine learning allow you to segment your customers into separate groups. These algorithms use thousands of data points to draw correlations and make systematic conclusions about which customers are similar enough to be treated the same.
You may opt to group customers into each of the personas you’ve created in the previous step, or allow the system to create its own set of groups.
Either way, you should use machine learning to group, track, and engage with different customer ‘types’ in different ways.
For example, you can use location data in real time to suggest relevant options to your customers. It could be as simple as providing the address to the nearest retail location.
You can also create offers, upgrades, and other promotions based on customer location. Flight Centre uses dynamic content7 to customize promotions based on its customers’ physical locations.
Another customization option is adapting your website and chatbot messaging based on whether a customer is a first-time visitor or is someone who has visited your website before. A simple example is altering the text to say “Welcome back” instead of “Welcome.”
If your site includes an online store, you can also include other personalized data. Such as updates on any orders in progress, or a request for feedback on any recent purchases.
4. Make Customer Data Accessible
Your company likely offers many customer touchpoints, and the channels are an excellent means of collecting data. The challenge is to efficiently integrate all of this data into one centralized customer profile. Customers don’t like having to repeat themselves.
Imagine this scenario: You log on to a website and interact with a chatbot, looking to return a product. The chatbot cannot resolve your issue, so you call the toll-free number next. Now, you have to explain the problem again to a customer service representative. The representative tells you to take the product back to your nearest store. So, you get to the store, and they have no record of anything, and you have to have the same conversation, now for the third time.
Now imagine that each time you also had to start the conversation by providing your name, address, security password, receipt number, and other such information.
This happens to many customers quite often, and nearly 89% of people8 say they are frustrated because they have to repeat the same issue to multiple representatives.
The solution is to not only integrate your touchpoints but also centralize that data in a place that is accessible by all team members.
For example, if you have a loyalty program but your frontline customer service reps cannot access the profiles, this data won’t help personalize their interactions and provide more valuable info.
Information you will want your customer service team to access includes:
- the customer’s name
- past purchases
- previous support experiences
- any recurring problems
- any recent queries
Customer data should also be available to pre-populate online from this centralized database.
Returning shoppers should not have to re-enter their name, address, and other purchase info every time if they don’t want to. After all, if they go through the hassle of creating a profile, they expect it to improve their customer experience.
Pre-populating this info can speed up customer interactions including checking on purchases in progress, making future purchases, and initiating returns.
5. Provide Flexible Contact Options
Different customers will prefer to deal with your company in different ways. Some may prefer automated platforms, while others want to talk to a human agent. This is why it’s important to allow customers to contact customer service using whichever medium they choose.
Standard customer service options include:
- Automated service – chatbots
- Live chat
- In-store agents
Social media may be an additional customer service option. Some businesses have a Twitter feed dedicated solely to customer service.
6. Personalize Email Communication
As discussed earlier, basic personalization in emails doesn’t offer the best results for marketers.
However, email is the quickest personalization win when done right. The first step is to segment your email list into your customer segments, as you do with website visitors.
Then you can use dynamic content to personalize the different emails to each group or each individual customer. One report shows that 65% of email marketers9 find dynamic content to be the most effective personalization tactic.
The question then becomes how to use dynamic content for the greatest results.
It turns out that about 60% of those same marketers report that contextual signals are effective dynamic options. For example, adding in text mentioning the customers’ local region improves results. Around 58% of those marketers also reported that machine learning can improve email personalization, the same as it can for your web content and chatbots.
7. Offer Recommendations
The ability to offer personalized recommendations based on customer history can improve your customer service.
This is something Amazon excels at. The company offers recommendations online and via email based on customers past browsing and shopping experiences.
Plus, customers have the ability to further improve recommendations in several ways:
- They can rate products they’ve purchased or used
- They can remove items from their recommendations list
- They can create wishlists with other products they’re interested in
The customer profile and recommendations list can be viewed through the website, the mobile site, and the Kindle app.
This kind of cross channel access to customer data improves customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, it also seems to be a weak area for companies with physical locations.
One study shows10 that of businesses that offer personalization, 48% offer it based on previous purchases online, and only 3% include purchases in-store.
8. Use Customer Names
While customer names are not appreciated as a means of personalizing emails, they are important to other interactions.
Research shows11 that significant changes in brain activity occur when people hear their own names being called. As a result, when you use someone’s name, the experience is more memorable for them, and they are more likely to feel valued.
This is especially important, considering that 68% of customers will leave a business 12 if they feel it is indifferent towards them.
Starbucks started writing people’s names on their cups back in 2012, as an initiative to improve customer relations.
In fact, they kicked it off with a campaign where any customer who introduced themselves by name received a free latte. By the end of the campaign, more than 350,000 free drinks were given away in an effort to improve their staff and customer relationships.
Personalized customer service can lead to increased customer happiness and value. You’ll experience more repeat business and higher lifetime value (LTV) per customer.
However, even one bad customer service experience can result in the loss of a customer. So it’s important to create personalized services that are consistent, repeatable, and reliable.
Unfortunately, many businesses are still struggling to do this well. But, by implementing the information you’ve learned in this article, you can make sure that yours is never one of them.
These methods for personalized customer service will make a positive difference to your customers and your bottom line.
1 – http://grow.segment.com/Segment-2017-Personalization-Report.pdf
2 – https://econsultancy.com/12-stats-that-prove-why-personalisation-is-so-important/
3 – https://www.pure360.com/webinar/beyond-the-basics-why-customers-are-demanding-next-level-personalisation/
4 – https://www.marketingcharts.com/customer-centric/personalization-customer-centric-80876
5 – https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/personalized-calls-to-action-convert-better-data#sm.000awoxgniktcoi11jl2et1nit4os
6 – https://leadsbridge.com/how-to-create-the-right-buyer-persona-for-your-start-up-company-here-the-examples-to-follow/
7 – https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/guides/dynamic-content/
8 – https://www.accenture.com/t20150523T052453__w__/gr-en/_acnmedia/Accenture/Conversion-Assets/DotCom/Documents/Global/PDF/Strategy_3/Accenture-Global-Consumer-Pulse-Research-Study-2013-Key-Findings.pdf
9 – https://pages.onespot.com/2017-06-Relevancy-Group-Email-Whitepaper-LP.html
10 – https://www.infosys.com/newsroom/press-releases/Documents/genome-research-report.pdf
11 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1647299/
12 – http://www.retentionofcustomers.com/Customer_Retention_Ideas_Report_DC_Version.htm