Imagine this common early-morning scenario: you’ve overslept or gotten behind in your morning routine and now you’re late, rushing to finish getting ready and make the commute to work.
You still need breakfast, so you swing through the local coffee shop on your way in. You brace for the early morning rush, but instead of waiting, you find the barista greets you with a smile, calls your name and is already preparing your regular order because she saw you come in and sees you in the shop frequently.
This one small action could make a huge impact on your morning.
You feel appreciated, and most importantly, the barista has created a fantastic purchasing experience that alleviated some of your time-crunch panics.
This is the power of personalized customer experience, and you’ve now joined the 91 percent of customers who prefer shopping with retailers that remember your shopping habits.
What is Personalization?
Personalizing the customer experience greatly impacts customer retention, an important strategy considering it costs around five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one.
Personalization can transform many touchpoints like social media, in-store purchases, or your business’ website, but it requires more depth than simply inserting a first name marker into an email or targeting broad segments. Re-thinking your sales funnel, marketing strategies and campaigns to respond to each individual can radically change your business.
What Tools Do You Need?
Customer personalization is built upon listening to needs and concerns, storing data about customer interactions and using that data to solve problems and create a better experience with your product or band.
This requires CRM software that enables you to store data and use it to create actionable, individualized strategies. There are many CRM options available, and some focus more on the individual rather than larger segments.
Regardless of the software you choose, an omnichannel approach to data collection is important. Companies that use an omnichannel approach—utilizing multiple platforms both on and offline—have much higher retention rates than those that don’t.
Using the right tools and an omnichannel approach, you can transform your business at every stage of a sale by personalizing the customer experience.
Before the Sale
Before customers make a purchase, there are many opportunities to personalize their experience, largely through the marketing and communication used to reach them. Personalized marketing increases the chance a customer will make their first purchase or repeat purchase, and it reduces the amount of irrelevant content they see.
- Tailor emails based on previous activity, such as sending coupons for a product a customer frequently purchases, sending birthday wishes and coupons or create an automated email campaign for different actions on your site, such as clicking a specific link or signing up for a newsletter.
- Encourage loyal customers to write online reviews about your business. Customers look at online reviews before they make a purchase online. Before customers make a purchase, they will look to see how good the experience can be. They might be thinking, “Is this event company going to work with me to create the event of my dreams? Or, will all of my questions and concerns be addressed while I work with this company? Customers find this information out before they even contact your business.
- Tailor product recommendations based on previous purchases or viewed items in the same way Netflix makes recommendations based on your preferences and history.
- Respond to questions and comments on social media quickly and without using scripted replies. House of CB, a London apparel company, uses Instagram comments to assist customers and help them make informed, personalized purchasing decisions. Each comment is a personal response in the brand’s tone, but they never seem canned.
- Design a beautiful, professional and attention-grabbing website. One report found that 92 percent of people say website visuals are the #1 factor influencing their decision to purchase. Take website personalization a step further with newsletter and discount offers based on any previous activity, and be sure to optimize for mobile, desktop, and multiple browsers.
During the Sale
During the sale, customers may need help choosing a product or service. Personalization at this point can occur both online and offline, giving retail teams and brick-and-mortar employees the power to positively affect current and future purchases.
- Guided selling through online quizzes or surveys is a great way to help customers choose a product they’re sure to love. Fresh Pet is a great example, allowing customers to take a quiz to choose the pet food brand most suited to their needs.
- When customer data is stored properly, brick-and-mortar employees can access purchase history and customer profiles to make recommendations and offer tailored advice, even if that purchase history comes from other platforms, like online purchases. Employees can also record data and notes of their own, making the customer’s overall journey more cohesive.
- Providing content curated based on a customer’s need on your app or website can be extremely powerful. Tik Tok, the vertical short form video app largely used by younger demographics, tailors the videos users see on the “For You” page. This is a big reason users open the app multiple times each day, with an average daily session length of 52 minutes. In the same way, website content like background colors, banners or advertisements can be tailored to customer history and preferences.
- Take website personalization strategies a step further by integrating live chat so customers can quickly get one-on-one attention. FAQ’s, blog articles, and case studies that provide the information customers are looking for is also helpful.
After the Sale
Personalization doesn’t stop when the sale is done. Eighty percent of customers said they stopped doing business with a company after a bad experience, so you’ve got to focus on a positive customer experience after the sale to keep customers coming back to your business.
- Ensure your customers want to tell others about the product they’ve purchased and empower them to use it with confidence. When you order a new Apple product online, your email receipt includes the option to book a live setup appointment, where a Specialist will walk you through the initial steps of setting up the device and answer questions. The one-on-one attention is helpful with new tech a customer may not be familiar with.
- As mentioned before, storing customer data is a key part of personalization and should be done through multiple platforms. Using this information for requests and complaints can be powerful for resolving problems and increasing positive customer reviews. Many customers report needing to contact multiple customer service representatives, re-explain themselves when talking to someone new, or simply stop doing business altogether after a bad experience.
- Capitalize on UGC (user-generated content) or helpful feedback customers give that results in changes to your company. This feedback can come from online reviews, social media, phone calls, and emails. When you take negative feedback seriously, it will result in a big improvement to your business.
- Store customer data after each purchase about time zone and location and put it to good use in website personalization by offering content, videos, discounts or other promotions that change with a customer’s season or location.
Customer personalization is a powerful tool that should be deployed thoughtfully at all stages of the sales funnel. With some time, strategy and the right tools, your business and brand could be drastically improved.