How Personalising Your Customer Service Can Improve Your Brand
The key to earning loyal customers is showing them you care. And that starts with a personal service.
March 15th, 2021
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.
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 boosts 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!
Now that most companies are turning to digital channels, no one can afford to slip up.
So if you’re already delivering good customer service, the best way to boost your brand’s image is by going that extra mile.
What’s stopping you? Consider that up to 72% of customers are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ likely to buy from a company if they have a reputation of delivering excellent, personalised customer service. So get personal and make every interaction count. Your review scores will thank you.
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 the 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.
The benefits and drawbacks of personalised customer service
The benefits of providing personalised customer service are three-fold; increased customer happiness, improved customer retention and accruing lifetime value for your customers. By having a stellar reputation you’ll not only keep the customers you already have but also accumulate more via positive reviews and word of mouth, no doubt improving your margins.
Providing a personalised service doesn’t just benefit your profits either, it can help boost the efficiency of your contact centres. Enabling your operators to take a more individualised approach to enquiries means that they are more likely to resolve query on their first attempt, preventing any elongated exchanges with customers that will waste your business’ resources.
There are of course some drawbacks when it comes to personalised customer service, for example you may need to increase the time spent recruiting new employees. This could be rigorous; where applicants have to attend multiple interviews as well as passing grammar and typing tests before they are hired!
Some personalisation methods can be built into processes to help new starters, i.e. automatically filling in a customer's name, or categorising customers according to their spend to help with the refund and return process. However what we suggest you look for in your applicants is that ‘instinct’. For example if a customer says the dress they’ve ordered is for a funeral and it’s late, just refund it, no questions asked. We give advisors a daily limit for ‘goodwill’. It’s about knowing when to do the right thing that makes the service truly personal.
How to implement personalised customer service
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.
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. They matter to your brand. We’re not going to say everything else doesn’t matter, but making sure that your customers are happy and satisfied with your service just lets everything else slip into place.
We’ve written countless blogs on how to make sure your CS is fantastic, so we won’t go into too much detail here. But there are a few ways you can push the extra mile to make your customers feel like they’re getting the special treatment.
As a simpler solution, you can do your best to 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.
You can also make sure you know the history of your customer. We use our customer service software, Gnatta, to make it simple for our operators. If a customer starts a conversation with an operator on Twitter, and then sends the company an email, they shouldn’t have to send over their information twice. By having each interaction at our fingertips, we give customers as seamless an experience as possible.
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 a brand or business is within there shouldn’t be 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.
The FMO Difference
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 clients wishes for us to use.
What differentiates us from other outsourcers is that we’re not willing to take short cuts, we’ll put the hours in to ensure that we provide our clients 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 x 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.