People are people, not robots. They deserve to be treated as such. If you disagree, well, customer service might not be for you.
Customer service is at its best when the customer feels like they’re being treated as an actual human being. Someone that the company they’re dealing with actually cares about. Not just another number in the system. Personalization can make a monumental difference to customer experience and shouldn’t be overlooked.
A personalized customer service experience can take many forms but is, at its simplest, the way in which a business can deliver the exact assistance that a customer requires. They’re not treated the same regardless of problem or purchase, instead, customers are considered as individuals with individual problems. They’re then given a personalized service that reflects the nature of their desires.
This could be as simple as communicating with them in the method that best suits them, be that on the phone, by email, by text, through social media, whichever method works for them. It could be the way in which you communicate, be that formal or informal, short or long form.
It sounds like a lot of hard work doesn’t it? The truth is, it is. Truly personalized customer service takes a considerable amount of investment, training, and resources to deliver (thankfully there are tools to assist - see How to Personalize Customer Service).
A quality, personalized customer service experience can create myriad business benefits. A customer that feels valued and understood by the company they’re dealing with is far more likely to be retained and become a loyal customer. Even before that, if prospective customers can see that they’re going to receive a personalized customer service experience, they’re far more likely to select that company.
When using personalization throughout the customer sales journey, and into their customer lifecycle, conversion rates are far higher across the board. Especially when considering brand loyalty where 65% of customers are more likely to advocate for a brand if that brand personalizes their communication.
We already know that a personalized service leads to a higher conversion rate. That affects both company performance and revenue. Major advantages are already prevalent. There are further benefits, each of which feeds into the overall goal of increasing profits and brand loyalty, to consider:
Putting it simply, the customer experience is just better with personalization. Not just because they feel valued but also because you’re able to better understand and evaluate their issues. Digging into a customer’s purchase history, previous customer service conversations, and other interactions with the business, all give you a great platform to start from. You’re far more likely to be able to anticipate issues, understand questions, and provide a positive outcome. There’s a chance that this sort of data will allow you to resolve issues before they’ve even come to pass.
There’s no hiding from the fact that people expect a great deal from businesses these days. Attitudes have changed in recent years and what was previously seen as a USP for some companies (doorstep delivery, individual video calls, etc) is now considered the norm.
Let’s say, for instance, that you run an eCommerce business. Pre-pandemic, people settled for contact forms and emails, and a lengthy response time, simply because it was the norm. Nowadays, many customers want answers to their questions immediately and if a live chat (either by agent or chatbot) or direct messaging such as WhatsApp isn’t available they’ll move on.
Customer service is important to people. There’s no hiding from that. Bad customer service will drive people away from companies or stop them from engaging with them from the start. The opposite can be said for good, personalized customer service. Superb customer service increases sales. If a customer feels cared for and that the company engages with them on a personal level, that customer is far more likely to become a loyal customer.
Personalizing customer service is no small feat. The key is to approach it holistically and understand that customer service is present in every interaction that a customer has with your company. Great customer service tends to go unnoticed more than bad customer service (this could be down to the increased customer expectations) but also that people tend to share bad experiences with companies more than good ones.
Data is your best friend when it comes to offering a personalized service. You need to have information on your customers in order to offer personalization without it, you’re just taking a shot in the dark.
Finding the balance is important. Used too much and the personalization can seem like an invasion of privacy. Data can, instead, facilitate that warm feeling that someone remembers who you are and what you like. It could be as simple as a chat box popping up saying “Hi Michael, welcome back, nice to see you” if they’ve engaged with the chat box before. Or even sharing a quick offer with them on a product that they regularly order.
The most important use of data is that it should be beneficial to the customer first and the business second. The personalized use of their data should deliver value to them rather than feel like marketing and sales are being shoved down their throats.
The best customer service representative will take the time to understand a customer’s history when engaging with them. Take, for example, a customer who contacts an eCommerce business asking about a specific product. The customer service representative should be able to look into their order history and expand on the conversation to ask if product x, y, or z worked for them in the past and if this new product will have similar results or offer a different experience.
Simply having a genuine conversation with the customer will spark interest and deliver a great experience. Typing from a script and ignoring the nuance won’t.
Many customers expect customer service to be available 24/7, especially when dealing with larger brands. If you’re unable to provide a 24/7 service then you should guarantee that they’re available during your posted hours.
A genuine omnichannel experience seeks to not just provide customer service across multiple channels but also ensure that these channels are connected in a consistent way. This means that should a customer contact your business via social media, an agent that talks with them through email has access to the same data.
This is usually facilitated by a sophisticated CRM system that keeps all customer information in one central place. The omnichannel experience links perfectly in with a personalized marketing service, where a customer can be reminded that their product is due a replacement soon or that product x would work brilliantly with product y.
Alongside the omnichannel, data and information should be carried across each channel. If a customer is communicating via email and then decides to ring, the information should be accessible by the representative at the end of the phone. A simple, “Oh yes I see you’ve been talking on email with…” goes a long way to the customer feeling the company is communicating internally and efficiently.
Using AI self-service through chatbots can deliver a quality, personalized, and efficient customer service channel. Linked with customer data, AI is able to learn what a customer likes and dislikes based on their order history and even based on their previous customer interactions. The beauty of AI-based self-service is that customers are receiving a personalized service whilst your team is less involved in the process.
People like to share their opinion, so give them a platform and the option to do so. Collecting customer feedback gives a set of information that you can use to improve the customer experience. Furthermore, when feedback is great, it gives you content to share as social proof.
Creating a personalized customer service experience on WhatsApp is a win-win. The customer feels that they’re truly cared for and that you value their business, they enjoy this feeling and become loyal to your brand. Your business builds quality relationships with customers who want to purchase from you, revenue and profits increase and the business thrives. What’s not to love?