In today's relentlessly paced consumer-centric world, it's vital to not only give your customers a seamless and exceptional experience but one that feels tailored and unique to them. From the moment they arrive on your page to them making a purchase, and beyond, a customer needs to feel like their conversion matters.
Most, if not all, consumer-facing companies know the importance of giving great customer experiences, but admit there's still a lot of work to do. So, how does one give their customers the best experience possible?
We're going to look at five ways you can personalize your customer service to better these experiences, while simultaneously building your brand.
But first, let’s take a look at just what customer experience and customer support involves.
What Exactly is Customer Experience?
The customer experience (or CX) can be defined by the experiences and interactions a customer has with a business across its journey. That’s from inquiry to the sales process, to purchase and support in the case of queries or complaints.
CX is an integral part of customer relationship management (CRM). It's essential because giving a customer a positive experience exponentially increases your chances of a repeat purchase or a good endorsement that leads to more business.
Keeping customers happy increases the likelihood that they’ll remain customers. 73% of customers count customer experience as a key factor in their purchasing decisions, just behind price and product quality.
If you treat customers poorly or ignore their service requests, then they'll probably stop doing business with you. In fact, 82% of customers will stop purchasing from a company after a bad experience. This is why companies who deliver superior customer service do better, even if they're selling a very similar product at a different - possible higher - price point.
Is Customer Experience the Same as Customer Service?
Usually, the customer's first contact with a business is online, in-person, or on the phone. This presents you with an excellent opportunity to provide a good service.
But service is just a part of the experience.
If you booked a vacation online with ease, then that's excellent service. However, if your ticket arrives through the post along with some bag tags, some sunscreen, and a handwritten note giving you a restaurant recommendation, then that's a great experience.
There's the difference.
Of course, great customer service is part of creating a positive experience. We’ll take a look at how to provide great customer service shortly, but there’s one key takeaway: personalization. 91% of customers are more likely to shop with brands that provide personalized service, whilst 72% only engage with personalized messaging.
Getting customer experience right has become that much more important as we make our way into 2021. In fact:
- More than two-thirds of companies now compete primarily on the basis of customer experience
- 86% of buyers are willing to spend extra if they’re given a great experience throughout the buying process
- Almost half of surveyed buyers have made an impulse purchase after receiving more personalized attention
- By the end of this year, CX will overtake price as a key brand differentiator
- 72% of customers will share a positive experience with six or more people, while 13% of unhappy customers will share their experience with over 15 people
You can build great customer experiences during the support process. Here are five ways to do it:
Address Them by Their Preferred Name
“A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” - Dale Carnegie
It harks back to basic psychology. When you use someone's name, you're acknowledging their importance. Everyone wants to be heard, especially when they’re reaching out about a problem or concern. The simple act of referring to them by name shows you’re responding to them as an individual, and are listening to what they’re saying.
Using someone’s name is a great way to capture attention, as we're intrinsically drawn to instances of our name being said or printed. Did you know that studies show our brains respond differently to hearing our own name as compared to someone else's? Just make sure not to overdo it - we’ve all had that awkward salesperson who uses it every other sentence!
Make sure you're using your customer's first name (or if you want to be more formal, you can address them with their title and surname). This should be uniform across all lines of communication, email, phone, or automated message.
With the range of technology available today, there's no reason to get this wrong, especially when it comes to providing customer support. When a customer reaches out to you on one of your support channels, you can ensure name fields are auto-populated using your CRM. (For customers that reach out to your call center, you'll want to implement contact center technology that integrates your CRM). This way, agents can see all the information available on the customer at a glance, rather than having to switch between software.
Personalization goes both ways, though. Customer support agents should adopt more friendly and relatable approaches that help build rapport with their contacts. Since this person is representing the company, that demeanor directly impacts a customer's perception.
Agents can make themselves more personable by also using their first name in conversation or via text. They could even have pictures next to their names and try to make small talk or ask questions beyond the product or service they're calling about.
Knowing Your Customer
Being aware of a customer's name is not enough to show you care. When they contact you, you must have a clear idea of this specific person's history with your company.
Let’s look at an example of why this matters. If you’re a telephony company that provides services for offices and home workers, it’s important to know which is which. If someone calls you about a VoIP for home issue and you start talking about their business internet connection, they’re going to think you haven’t been listening. Equally, if you treat your business customers like individuals, you’ll be unable to solve their problems.
A detailed log of each customer must be kept on file and made accessible, so there's no chance of a frustrated customer having to repeat themselves to multiple representatives at the same company. If you are passing a customer between representatives, it can be worth using a team collaboration tool to share details with the next agent. That way, the customer will receive a seamless experience.
But how do you gather this data? Ideally, you should have an omnichannel approach. This involves collating information from various channels into a centralized location, rather than treating each channel as a separate entity. That way, a customer who has approached you with an issue via Twitter could call in and have a seamless experience.
Data you may have gathered include:
- Purchase history
- Previous contact with the company
- Demographic information: age, location, gender, etc
- Behavioral data (having a customer journey map in mind can help provide context here)
This may sound like a lot of data, depending on the number of customers you have, but there are many CRM systems that can manage it for you.
Create a Personalized Website Experience
Maybe you've yet to consider this, but the experience a potential customer has when visiting your website forms a significant part of their experience. Therefore, creating a great user experience (UX) is part of excellent customer service.
Many customers will head to the website, rather than calling you. You can provide personalized support on your website with live chat. Most website builders will allow you to implement this tool. Live chat connects customers with a support agent, and you can provide similar services to those you would on a phone call.
Beyond this immediate support, you can create better customer experiences by refining your content. Customers who have an account should receive personalized offers and recommendations based on their previous transactions. Even those without accounts can be shown relevant content based on their browsing history.
For instance, let’s say you’re a cookware store that’s just sold a customer a particular set of knives. A bad website experience would involve them seeing an offer on that exact set of knives the next time they log in. A positive experience would be seeing a promotion on chopping boards from the same brand. Customers should feel catered to.
Give Customer Service Teams More Freedom
Since customer service is a significant priority for most companies, it brings a large amount of infrastructure and detailed customer service policies, standards, and templates. Although these are implemented to improve customer service, the policies' very nature can make customer support too procedural, and as a result, stale.
Scripts aren’t inherently a bad thing - they’re a great starting point, especially if you’re working through common issues. However, that’s all they should be: a starting point. By allowing your customer service team to respond freely along with making use of personalization based on customer data, you can build authentic, ongoing relationships with your customers.
Give agents more power in their interactions, and they’ll be able to provide a better experience. That could mean upselling and using incentive marketing if they think they can get a sale. It could also mean providing a discount to soften a bad experience, or free shipping to make up for a damaged product. Encourage them to think outside the box for the benefit of creative problem solving and conflict resolution.
Use Feedback to Improve
Used correctly, feedback is the most potent weapon in your customer experience arsenal. It allows you to improve your products and services as well as your customer service procedures. Clever analysis of the data gathered can help your personalization strategies. By drilling down into certain responses, you can create segments, and target them accordingly.
For instance, if you survey people who purchase leisure vehicles, you’ll gather information on what’s important to this particular user base. This is likely to be very different from those who purchase family vehicles. With this data in hand, you can provide more customized services to these different market segments.
Despite feedback collection being useful on its own, it's most potent when customers can see their suggestions and feedback turn into actionable results.
If you’ve received feedback from an individual, you should:
- Acknowledge the feedback with a unique and personal message
- If it’s useful, make appropriate changes
- Once changes have been made, get in touch with the customers whose feedback you used.
As our global marketplace becomes more and more competitive each day, customers have more choices than ever. With such a saturated market, you can’t afford to provide poor customer support. One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the competition is with personalized customer experiences.
You need to know as much about a customer as you can before they reach out to you as well as, tailor your website to your target audience, and allow customer service agents to add their personal touch. Doing so will show that you genuinely care about the people you’re selling products or services to.
Employing the five steps outlined above will help create new customer relationships as well as strengthening existing ones. Making growth not only achievable but inevitable!
Author: Sam O’Brien
Bio: Sam O'Brien is the Director of Digital and Growth for EMEA at RingCentral, a Global VoIP and call centre software provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams.