You must have already experienced going into a store, intending to buy a specific product with specific requirements, and then met with a sales pitch for an entirely different product the sales guy insists everyone needs. You see the product you need right there in front of you and the sales guy becomes just so annoying. Or you might have opted for the convenience of raising a concern through a brand’s messaging app. You expected to communicate your concern to customer service, but just find yourself conversing with an expressionless chatbot. You might then want to talk to a real person. But if the customer service guy just obviously reads from a script, how would that assure you that your concern could be addressed? On the other hand, you may also have experienced a really good customer service that you could just buy anything they offer you.
A good customer service
Of course, you would really prefer a superb customer experience, being met with warm hospitality over an impersonal treatment. Also, clearly, everyone prefers good customer service－and way better if it’s a personalized customer experience. If it isn’t, a customer just has to live with it, or can just walk away. Now, with social media, a customer walking away could mean a lot of people avoiding the brand. While it’s easier now to market a brand, a brand’s downfall could also easily happen with just one unsatisfied customer.
A recent study revealed preferences strong enough to drive either brand switching or willingness to pay more. 50% of 25,000 respondents across 22 countries said that the pandemic caused them to rethink their personal purpose and re-evaluate their values. As consumers in relation to brands, they are those who’d most likely abandon brands that don’t support their new values. On the other hand, they would most likely prefer brands that share their values, even willing to pay more.
A recent Forbes article observed that brands right now are competing primarily on customer experience. Brands are now laser-focused on customer experience, “partly because they know people will pay more for great experiences.”
A personalized customer experience
In 2021, we have seen an acceleration of the shift towards digital transformation. More and more brands are banking on the idea of customer experience and taking advantage of the progress of AI. Making use of all these together, you can take customer experience further through a personalized approach. Here are some ways you can do it.
1. Know and understand your customer
Calling your customer by name is already better than treating her as just a generic customer. But, even better is knowing, and, better still understanding your customer. No matter how much or how little information you have about your customer, you already have so much data at your disposal to get to know her better. Rather than just targeting customers by location or demographics, try understanding your target consumer’s persona. What are her preferences, what are her interests? Does she prefer emails, chats, or messaging apps? Where does she want to see product or brand ads? What does she value? And what does she prefer to be called? Or is there a particular pronoun she prefers?
2. Plan, map out your customer journey
Aside from the “what” questions, it would be helpful also to dig into the “whys”? Understand the motivations behind her concerns or queries, or, basically, her search intent. Where is she coming from? When does she need the product or information? Knowing these allows you to plan wisely and position your brand touchpoints at the right moments in the customer journey.
Messaging placements and how you frame them are also critical. The pandemic highlighted the concerns for family-first and personal well-being. Customers have preferred brands that share their values and priorities. Not only that, but employees are even leaving their employers en masse primarily due to non-congruence of priorities.
Make sure to place and frame your messages within the range of your customer’s closely guarded values and priorities. If you have client-facing employees, whether in person or online, make sure they are giving clients their full attention. Make sure they are actually listening, making the conversation engaging, and not construed as just reading off a generic script. This would significantly transform the conversation to not just a good customer service but a great customer experience.
4. Context-rich, context-aware, omnichannel
Placement or positioning today no longer just occurs in one location. If you’re in an interaction with a customer, for example, prepare for your customer’s switching of channels, platforms, and dimensions. You may start off conversing through email, then find yourself transported to a messaging app and still continue conversing with your customer. Now, that can only happen if you have mapped it out already and have anticipated the shifts in order to navigate seamlessly from one location to another. Otherwise, you’ll be left in her inbox while her interests are turned to some other brand.
Also, it is no longer enough to just have a website. It has already become imperative to have a social media presence and your customer’s preferred communication channels set up. Understand also that each platform or channel has its own developed cultures, rules, and expectations. Be aware of each context and adjust your content and message to fit nicely to each while maintaining your brand persona.
5. Make use of data, but be responsible
Customers have different takes on privacy. There are those who are willing to provide any information they see would be helpful for later use. Saving login information would, for example, save a lot of time later on. There are those, however, who would rather do such process on their own over and over than provide personal details. Some prefer communicating their concerns to actual customer service staff. Some prefer to figure out processes themselves through personalized self-help articles. Which of the two does your customer fall under? How far or how deep can you go depends on your customer persona.
6. An improved loyalty program
Another way of improving customer experience is having a personalized loyalty program. You can, for example, set up personalized dashboards customers can access for them to be able to track their reward points. Share control and allow ownership to their accumulated points by offering multiple options on how to make use of them. You may want to also include sharing of points to, making the value of sharing a feature in your loyalty program.
7. Relevant recommendations and smooth transitions
Understanding your customers individually and treating them so allows you to upsell and cross-sell with more relevant recommendations. Anticipate conversation and customer engagement flow so you can have smooth transitions, segues, and escalations at the right time. For a good customer service, it would also be nice to communicate to a customer a plan if your call or needed transfer or escalation gets cut off. Your client-facing representative could, for example, provide a guide such as how the customer could return to the same conversation.
8. Just ask
Sometimes, in an attempt to be polite, brands opt for long and winded messaging to introduce survey questions. Sometimes this gets annoying. Just ask the question, but limit it to a few or just one question. There are now new models or metrics you can use for this, such as NPS, CES, and CSAT. You can, for example, ask about their customer experience, if they think you have a good customer service. To answer such a question, the customer can just rate you from one to ten, through star ratings, or select from a range of emojis.
These are just some of the few things you can do to have a good customer service or to make it a great customer experience. According to a Forbes article, it’s almost impossible to ‘wow’ customers at every single interaction. Yet this mindset is so important.”
Every customer interaction, especially nowadays, is so important: Each interaction is a pivotal point for the success or downfall of your business.
If you need help improving your customer service strategy, we at StratAccess could help you with it.