How Personalising Your Customer Service Can Improve Your Brand
The key to earning loyal customers is showing them you care.
August 29th, 2017
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 customer service (CS), 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?
So, what actually is it? Personalised CS 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. On a larger scale, personalised CS can come in the form of a company offering discounts on previously purchased – or similar – items. Pretty straightforward, right?
Why should you offer personalised customer service?
It’s what customers want
What other reason is there? Up to 73% of UK customers say that they are more likely to be loyal to a company that offers personalised CS. And that really says it all.
If you’re looking to improve your brand’s reputation, or to boost your sales, personalised CS is the way to go. Customers want to feel like they're part of a brand, like it represents who they are. We all know someone who buys every new Apple product that's released. Individualising your customer experience (CX) makes customers feel like they're personally involved and associated with your brand, rather than just a faceless number.
And that feeling of loyalty to a brand makes those customers much more valuable. A loyal customer will not only shop with you and be more open to upselling, they’re also much more likely to refer you to their friends. That all leads to a healthy boost to your brand's image (trust us; we wrote a blog about it).
And 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 CS is a fantastic start.
It boosts your ratings
Personalised CS 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 CS, 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 CS. 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 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 AI’s, like chatbots, have become more and more popular. And that isn’t a bad thing. They help CS operators do their job well and they provide the oh-so-important self-serve options that customers are starving for. Customers genuinely want companies to offer some form of automation. In fact, per the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, 90% of customers expected brands to offer some form of self-service CS. 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 CS 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 the in the cold. Your operators should be providing empathy 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.
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.
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 CS. 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.
You could give them a discount if they bundle items together. They just put that shirt into their basket? Here’s 10% off some shoes that match. Things like this delight and surprise customers. Not only are you showing them that you know what they want, you’re making your brand as navigable and convenient as possible. Why would a customer want to go anywhere else when the best 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 CS. Your customer experience should be as good as it absolutely can be, and your operators should be striving for that always. In short, your CS 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.
We strive to deliver excellent customer service at FM. We make sure our operators are always on form and make every interaction count. Personalising your service can do wonders for your brand’s reputation. By making every customer feel like the most important one you have, you create a brand image that is not only professional and competent, but also one that potential customers want to be associated with. Want some more help with personalising your customer service? Contact us today, or even sign up to our newsletter below; there will always be more great content on its way.