Convincing shoppers to buy with you used to be a simple task of showing them that you offer the best value. But customer expectations are soaring and they’re no longer happy to just take your word for it: they must be convinced. To truly deliver excellent personalised customer service, you have to show your customers that you know what they want, what they buy, and how they’re going to buy it.
Providing a personalised customer service journey can improve your customer experience and could be the difference between your customer shopping with you again and switching to another brand.
What is Personalised Customer Service?
Personalised customer service can come in different forms but as long as the service is tailored to match each customer, it can be considered individualised. In its simplest form, it can be something like your barista remembering your regular coffee, or a maître d’ knowing which table you prefer, all the way up to customer service outsourcing for a brand knowing your complete transaction history. On a larger scale, personalised customer service can come in the form of a company offering discounts on previously purchased – or similar – items. It’s more than remembering to use a customer’s name in a canned response, it’s about building the response around the customer.
If you believe that great customer service needs to be adapted for each and every customer, accounting for all the nuances that make their order or query unique, then personalised customer service is what you’re after. Pretty straightforward, right?
Why is Personalised Customer Service Important?
Personalisation is what differentiates a great service from an okay one. It is often what leads to a customer choosing to shop with you again or switching to another of your competitors. And the numbers back this up! According to the data, 73% of UK customers say they are more likely to be loyal and return to engage with a brand that provides a personalised customer service experience.
Consumers want to feel as if they’re a part of something, they want to purchase from a brand that they feel represents them. By offering personalised customer service it helps customers align themselves with your brand and not just feel like a faceless number who is waiting to be served. This, in turn, can boost your brand and sales dramatically.
It’s What Customers Want
When more than 70% of Generation Y (sometimes referred to as Millennials) shoppers say that they’re interested in unique offers, you can’t really afford not to provide them.
Generation Y shoppers represent the future of many businesses. In 2015, they surpassed Baby Boomers, who were the biggest generation group at the time. So it’s important for companies to be moving with the times and to cater to younger audiences. If you want your company to appeal to modern audiences, personalised customer service is a fantastic start.
It Improves Your Ratings
Personalised customer service is all about making each person feel like the most important customer a company has. Doing it well can produce some great results. Happier customers are more likely to leave positive reviews, which is something every company should be aiming for.
It can take up to 12 positive reviews to negate one negative one. That sounds like a lot because it is!
It Makes Digitally-Focused Companies Feel More Human
At the end of the day, customers just want companies to show them some love. It might seem a little odd but customers really want to feel some empathy from the companies they support. In the last few years, intelligent AIs, like chatbots, have become more and more popular. And that isn’t a bad thing. They help customer service operators do their job well and they provide the important self-serve options that customers are craving. Customers genuinely want companies to offer some form of automation. In fact, the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report showed 90% of customers expected brands to offer some form of self-service customer service. During 2016 and 2017, interactions over Twitter increased by 250%. It’s safe to say that digital channels are here to stay.
But customers also want to feel like there are people behind the screens when they contact a customer service department. According to a study from 2016 by Accenture, 77% of people want some form of human interaction when they need help. So don’t leave your customers out in the cold. Your operators should be providing empathetic, personalised customer service support in every interaction and customers should feel like you genuinely care. That’s why we choose to use both automation and human operators; our operators provide empathy and our automation software provides personalisation on a large scale. Something as simple as knowing how and why a customer has previously contacted you can make all the difference.
How to Implement Personalised Customer Service
Use Their Name
It really can be as simple as that. Using the customer’s name is a great way to show that you’re treating them as an individual. It can help the customer feel validated and important to you, and shows them that you’re taking their personal matter seriously.
However, don’t make your advisors sound patronising. If you make advisors use a customer’s name a set amount of times in an interaction, it can start to feel forced and fake. This is worse than not using their name at all because now the customer thinks the advisor doesn’t care at all and is only putting on a façade.
Be Where Your Customers Want You
It isn’t as simple as having both an offline and online presence. Whilst a website, or even a Twitter account, are a good start, they aren’t the be-all and end-all. Different kinds of customers are looking for you in different places. Perhaps you have quite a few older customers who would prefer to call or email you. That’s easy enough. But, these days, customers are looking for omnichannel companies to fulfil their personalised customer service needs.
They want a seamless experience, and they expect to find you on all the channels and devices they use. That could include anything from a social media presence, to apps and a mobile-responsive website. A customer should be able to look for you on their phone, complete their transaction on their laptop, and use a discount code from your app or social media page. Whilst that might sound a little convoluted, it’s the best way to prove to your customers that you really know what they want.
Services that help customers shop or encourage them to become involved with the company – by doing things like submitting photos or entering competitions – make them feel like they’re a part of something bigger. Loyalty to a brand can come from amazing prices and products, but it can also come from amazing, personalised customer service. When you make yourself part of a customer’s daily life, you’re saying, ‘I’m the brand for you, we’re friends, you can rely on me.’
Provide Customer Offers and Discounts
There’s little better – especially in retail – than being given a discount that you know you will definitely use. A lot of companies give out offers that are across-the-board, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.
But giving a specific customer a specific discount, designed just for them, is a fantastic way to show them how much you value their custom and deliver a truly personalised customer service.
Not only are you showing them that you know what they want, but you’re also making your brand as navigable and convenient as possible. Why would a customer want to go anywhere else when the best personalised customer service is with you?
But you could go even further than that. Loyalty programs are a great way of persuading customers to come back again and again. After all, who doesn’t love a free coffee or tea in the morning? Making these programs personalised is even better. It doesn’t even have to be that complicated. You could give customers a discount code on their birthday, or give them points that they can choose to spend on anything they want, or even offer them a discount on items they buy regularly. But remember to limit your discounts and rewards. Don’t give out ten offers in a month and make one customised; that might be great for the customer but it waters down your message. Make sure that every email you’re sending, every discount you’re offering, really hits home.
Fantastic Customer Service
This is the most straightforward way of providing personalised customer service. Your customer experience should be as good as it absolutely can be, and your operators should be striving for that always. In short, your customer service should be customer-focused. Customers talking to an operator on any channel should feel like they’re a top priority. It’s no good trying to make your customer feel like your care about them if you then have to tell them that you can’t help. All the empathising in the world won’t ease the frustration of being pinballed between different departments and different supervisors.
And whilst processes are important, keeping them flexible is also advantageous. Empower your operators to be able to make their own decisions. Do all your processes have to be rigid? Can your advisors have some leniency to provide a better resolution and customer experience? Can they surprise and delight your customers? If a customer has previously contacted you about a late delivery, and you’ve resolved the issue, it doesn’t mean you can’t send a follow-up message to check that their package arrived safely. Similarly, if an item needs to be re-sent, putting a voucher or free item into the package as compensation will make that customer feel appreciated and special.
Ultimately, by giving your advisors more room to move, you’re improving first contact resolution, customer satisfaction, retention rates and reducing costs.
Being genuine is critical to providing a personalised service; customers can always smell false empathy.
A lot of orders have some kind of emotional attachment to them. And customers will usually let you know this. You don’t technically need to know that the dress was for their cousin’s wedding, or the toy was for their child’s birthday, but it’s still important to the customer. Your advisors must show that they’re listening and not just picking up on keywords or trying to get rid of them ASAP.
So how do you do that realistically? To start with, encourage your advisors to treat each case individually and gauge how each customer is feeling about the situation. Give them the liberty to be conversational and not have to maintain a “professional” tone at all times.
Make sure your advisors know to never make it look like that customer is one of hundreds of people with the same issue. That may often be the case, but it’s important to consider things from their point of view. For example, if there’s a product recall, the advisor is going to encounter multiple people who have been affected by this issue. Some will be aware of the recall and some will not. Don’t say: “We’re aware of the issue, we’re dealing with lots of people trying to get refunds”. Instead, try saying “I’m sorry the product wasn’t up to our usual standards; I can issue you a refund immediately.”
Finally, don’t try to quantify this behaviour. Whilst it’s important to encourage your advisors to be empathetic, attempting to track or enforce that will just cause headaches. Firstly, there’s no effective way to gauge how empathic your advisors are being. But besides that, trying to enforce empathy will only create disingenuous conversations and that risks upsetting the customer even more. The best advice is to make sure your training is top-notch so you’re setting your advisors up for success.
The Right Personalised Customer Service for Your Business
There are differences in personalisation when it comes to the scale of a business. It’ll be more difficult to maintain a personal service for a very large enterprise, with a huge reliance on great training methods and structures to ensure the right message makes its way to every single operator. This isn’t just a personalisation issue however, it’s a general issue with customer service on a huge scale.
In relation to a sector, there shouldn’t be a difference in personalisation. No matter the product or service provided, businesses should know enough about their customer base to be able to offer them some level of personalisation.
At FM Outsource we work with our clients to establish a sophisticated framework which we then use to ensure each element of personalisation is implemented correctly. This includes tone of voice guidelines, goodwill gesture allowances, escalation routes and the technology a client wishes for us to use.
What differentiates us from other outsourcers is that we’re not willing to take shortcuts, we’ll put the hours in to ensure that we provide our clients with the highest quality of customer care. We go to great lengths to talk to each client about what exactly they want to achieve in terms of personalisation and how we can work together in order to make it happen. And once we’ve implemented a personalised customer service structure, we don’t let up, we pride ourselves on continually improving, and the proof is in the numbers, we’ve averaged a 3.5 increase in review scores for some of our clients.
Our aim is to assist our clients with implementing and maintaining an industry-leading customer care approach within their sector. We’re determined to help our clients reap the rewards of personalised service as their customers begin to feel more engaged, loyal and valued. To find out how you can benefit from implementing FM Outsource’s personalised customer service speak to an expert member of our team today.