Providing personalized customer service goes well beyond “addressing customers by their first name” or using nice words and phrases carelessly and pretentiously. Contrary to what most people think, customers are more apt in recognizing insincere mannerisms when communicating with brands, and would unabashedly move on to a more authentic one.
A truly personalized customer service is in fact part of a set of holistic and streamlined efforts on the side of the brands to recognize and address customer needs and issues on a more granular level. It is acknowledging that customer satisfaction and happiness should take precedence over your monetary interests, because at the end of the day providing a positive customer experience is what keeps your business afloat.
What is personalized customer service?
Personalized customer service is an approach where businesses tailor the customer service they offer to individuals’ interests and needs. This understanding of customizing communication was shaped in the past ten years with the development of automation systems and tools.
Automation eases every step of the process. Decision-makers are now able to:
- Collect data from a variety of resources and keep track of them all from a single dashboard.
- Have easily interpretable reports at hand, provided by analytics software.
- Tailor their way of communicating, deals, the quality of the service, promotional efforts, and so much more to customers’ characteristics and needs.
- Even receive automated key action suggestions in specific areas based on data.
Why does personalized customer service matter?
66% of buyers expect personalization from the brands they use. And they have all the reasons to have that expectation. We’ve been customizing the digital spheres we occupy since the time of MSN, and the most popular B2C brands in our time contributed a great deal to our growing expectations. Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Amazon, Pinterest and all the other tools that you can’t imagine life without have steadily been offering you a personalized experience that keeps you in.
And of course, there’s this matter that e-commerce is a quite transparent environment. There is an ever-growing number of online stores that have similar assortments. Shoppers compare similar businesses and find the best one according to their needs. Customer service is a top priority in this comparison as 90% of Americans consider a company’s customer service reputation before deciding to do business with them.
All of these means standing out is increasingly a challenge and building relationships is an even harder one. That’s why you have to circumvent the physical barriers and let your customers know that you understand them.
4 ways to provide personalized customer service
Offering the best personalized customer service calls for the use of some tools, the possession of a comprehensive testing mindset, and a genuine desire to understand your customers.
Here’s how to do that.
1. Collect customer data through several channels
Gathering customer intelligence is the first step in offering personalized customer service. You can find customer data in so many places from your website to social media platforms, from the software you use to analytics reports that you receive from a variety of resources.
Customers leave digital marks everywhere and as long as you have their consent, they’re happy with you using their information to offer a personalized experience.
Start collecting the following data points:
- Purchase data: When do customers buy from you? How frequently do they buy? What do they repeatedly buy?
- Search data: Items that customers search on your website, or third-party data to reveal the products they have shown interest in.
- Campaign data: What type of campaigns are they engaged with the most? Are they more responsive to email or to in-app messages? What type of ads lured them into your store before? Do they even stop and spare the time to watch your video ads? How deep of a discount enticed them before? Do they like gifts more, do they want shipping to be free?
- Real-time data: Use heatmaps, run A/B tests using the best A/B testing tools, and use software that provides real-time behavioral data to reveal patterns in customers’ behavior.
- Survey data: Conduct customer feedback surveys to find out what type of experience they expect to receive from you. If, for instance, free shipping is so incredibly important for them, you can fixate on free shipping and make up for the cost via a price increase across multiple products.
- Social media data: Take a closer look at customers’ social activity, use social listening tools to understand what they think about certain subjects related to your business, about you and your competitors.
Customer intelligence tools can help you a lot in the process of gathering and analyzing customer data as well.
2. Use the right customer service tools and CRMs to streamline your customer service
A comprehensive approach to customer service includes investing some of your resources into the tools and systems that help you automate some of the processes. It’s impossible to keep track of all the data points above manually, let go of analyzing them and turning your findings into actionable insights.
That’s why you’ll need a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform that’ll provide all the data points on simplified dashboards and via reports.
As you can see, these platforms make it incredibly easy to follow a customer’s journey that is normally compartmentalized across their presence in different digital spaces. You can also use these platforms to assess the success level of your campaigns, like comparing two email sequences that have different content to see which one converted more customers. Or, for instance, you can simply see how many leads you’ve generated with an Instagram ad. You can monitor how many of them who turned into customers returned for more shopping.
But more importantly, CRM helps you deal with customer requests immediately. Suppose, for example, you’re handling customer requests manually. Customer emails fall into email@example.com inbox, and you’re opening them and forwarding them to the right POC. Now, if you have no more than 50 customers, this might be okay to handle. But not if you’re planning to scale your business.
The top advantage of a CRM platform or customer relationship management software is great resource management. You should know that poor resource management can waste up to 11.4% of a company’s resources. CRM platforms open tickets automatically and allow you to build workflows that’ll assign those tickets to the person responsible. For example, when there’s a delivery issue, the tickets are assigned to the logistics department or your shipping provider.
Using a workflow, you can set up emails to be sent when you solve that particular problem, and have it personalized too. CRM tools ease personalization and help you approach customers in the way they prefer. For instance, Hubspot is one of the most popular and easy-to-use CRMs. You can also consider Hubspot alternatives if you prefer something else.
3. Adopt a proactive approach to retention management
An unfortunate mistake that most businesses fall into is waiting for a problem to occur and only then looking for solutions. Since there are countless alternatives to your store, your customers can easily switch to other brands, and a single poor experience can spark that fire.
That’s why you have to take a proactive approach to customer relationship management. Consider, for instance, two types of people that buy from you. One that returns for a recurring purchase every two months, and one that spends 15 hours browsing your website every week, leaves reviews, subscribes to your newsletter, and uses the live chat whenever they have a problem.
Their expectations likely differ a great deal, right? One likely doesn’t expect to hear from you much, and probably isn’t the most profitable customer for you. The latter, however, likely wants you to be responsive, to show that you care for them.
Now, segment your customers based on their level of engagement. Then, test different marketing tactics to increase their engagement.
Say, for example, you identified 5 groups that have different engagement levels. Group 1 is where the least engaged customers fall into, and Group 5 is built of your brand advocates.
Send a follow-up email to Group 1 to observe the results for a while. If their engagement increases, they might be more open to move upwards in the loyalty scale. But if they show a negative response, that means you’ll have to try other ways to improve your relationship, or simply not get in their sight. They might actually prefer not to be contacted too often.
You can do the same to find out how your customers prefer to be contacted. SMS has a lot of potential here. It has an unparalleled reach with an open rate of as high as 98%. And 75% of all mobile users have no issue with getting SMS messages from brands, as long as they opted into the service. Choose the right sms marketing platform with A/B test features and see if your customer service can benefit from this.
In short, make an educated guess about what kind of interaction customers expect from you, test different strategies to alter their expectations, and find a common ground at the end of the day. Don’t wait for problems to occur before trying to understand your customers.
4. Always ask for feedback after dealing with a particular issue
One important pillar of successful and long-lasting business relationships is progress. If you stay where you are in terms of the quality of your service, there’s a good chance that you’ll stay behind.
Luckily, there’s a proven way to show your progress to customers, and it’s really simple. Request feedback after you deal with an issue and let customers know about the actions you take on that matter.
Suppose, for example, a customer mentioned to you via live chat that they don’t like to receive packages separately when they make several orders. If possible, they want you to hold on for all the orders to be ready, and ship them together at once.
It’s likely that you’d assume customers would expect to receive the packages as fast as possible, regardless of if they arrive together or not. But that might not be the case. Some customers might see more value in speed, some in more environment-friendly packaging and shipping. It depends on how they look at life, and the values they want to share with brands they work with.
In this case, you’ll have to personalize your service according to their expectations. And if you notice a shift in their preferences, you’ll need to be able to adjust quickly.
The bottom line is, ask for feedback when you deal with an issue that concerns a customer. Let them know about the measures you took to improve their experience. Make sure they see the value you see in the relationship you have, and that you’re ready to put the effort into maintaining that relationship.
Providing personalized customer service is only possible by using a host of various tools in marketing, data gathering and analytics, customer relationship management, and most importantly customer help desk, like HelpCenter.
It enables you to access customer emails, chats, and messenger communications in one single dashboard. It equips you with unlimited email, live chat and FB messenger accounts, and chatbots. Besides, using its product page tab features, you can customize your product pages with the right product information. It also has a FAQ page production and customization feature that allows you to create a useful FAQ page to educate your customers on your products, and avoid unnecessary contacts with your support team.
This is a guest post by Mostafa Dastras.
Mostafa Dastras has written for some companies such as HubSpot, WordStream, SmartInsights, LeadPages and MarketingProfs. What keeps him up at nights is how he can help his clients increase sales with no BS content marketing. Visit his blog, LiveaBusinessLife.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn.
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