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Andy Steuer
By Andy Steuer #customer_experience August 16, 2018

When Amazon recommends an item based on your prior shopping experiences, it is personalizing the customer experience.  Netflix does the same when they suggest movies and TV programs you might like to watch. Facebook serves up the latest from your friends and contacts.

A personalized interaction has now become a major expectation for customers.

Providing that customized experience across the entire customer journey, through your omnichannel marketing and support, yields results.  In the case of Amazon, McKinsey estimate that 35% of purchases come from product recommendations.  On Netflix, 75% of videos watched come from recommendations.  Facebook’s algorithms are so good are delivering the content people want that some researchers say it can be as addictive as drugs.

While mass marketing still plays a role with today’s consumers, its influence appears to be on the decline.  Advertising are shifting more toward personalization every day. Predictive models recognize what customers want and deliver the right messages at the right time to the right consumer.

The Case For A Personalized Experience

Have you ever called in to ask a question, been told to punch in your account number, and then have to read it again to the person who finally answers?  Isn’t it refreshing when the person answering says hello and calls you by name instead? Whether it’s in-store, online, or on the phone, customers expect to be treated like a real person and not just another customer.

They reward companies and business that recognize who they are and what they like, have an understanding of their preferences, and customize the experience.

Customer personalization leads to loyalty.  A survey of 1,000 consumers revealed the positive impact:

  • Loyalty:  44% of consumers report they are likely to be a repeat customer after having a personalized customer experience
  • Added Sales:  40% of consumers purchase additional items, or a more expensive item, because of personalized service
  • Impulse Buys:  49% of customers said they bought products they did not plan to buy because of the personalized attention
  • Fewer Returns:  Only 5% of online impulse buys were returned when service was customized to the buyer.

When it comes to millennial customers, customization can lead to an even bigger opportunity.  20% of millennial consumers want custom or personalized packaging or service.  71% of consumers say they are willing to pay a premium price for such a service.

We know that great customer experience throughout the customer journey leads to better brand loyalty, customer retention, and higher sales.  Customization makes it even more likely customers bond with your brand.

Optimizing the customer experience should be a major initiative for every company.  A survey of marketing teams and executives points to personalization as the number one goal.

The Most Important Goals of Data-Drive Marketing Strategies

  • 70% Personalizing the customer experience
  • 43% acquiring new customers
  • 40% Measuring marketing ROI
  • 39% Targeting individual marketing segments

How To Personalize Your Customer Experience

The first step in any upgrade to customer experience is to map out the customer journey across each and every touchpoint.  The experience has to be consistent across these touchpoints regardless of the way customers engage with you. Fromthe marketing, to the website, to the email marketing, to the in-store visit, each touchpoint needs to be customized and personalized as much as possible.

7 Steps To Personalizing Customer Experiences

  1. Develop Customer Personas:  Define your customer base and break down any different segments.  In order to provide personalized customer service and customer support, you need to know who they are.  Talk to your support team and actual customers. The ideal situation is to reduce these segments to a single individual.  Mass marketing can be easily ignored, but one-on-one attention stands out.
  2. Incorporate A “Customer-Focus” In Everything You Do:  From the boss on down, everybody in your organization has to understand the vision you have for customer facing interactions.  Develop the guiding principles that you want your employees to employ and apply it to every phase of the customer journey. This means training, coaching, and mentoring to make sure everybody buys in to the vision.
  3. Create An Omnichannel Experience:  Customers have so many ways to connect with companies these days.  It’s not uncommon for someone to post something to social media rather than give you a call.  You need to be able to handle their inquiries regardless of whether it’s an email, phone call, chat, or social contact.  Failing to interact on their terms is the opposite of personalization.
  4. Install The Right Tech:  You need the right tools for your team to do the job.  That includes instant access to databases and customer information through your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.  It should be easy for any of your team to pull up customized information at any point during the customer journey, regardless of the touchpoint.  If you are a brick-and-mortar retailer, do you have instant access to your customer’s online purchase history?
  5. Reduce Friction Points:  Customers these days are frustrated.  The harder you make it for them to do business with you, the less likely they are to purchase or be repeat customers.  The longer they have to wait on hold, the more people they have to talk to, the more time they have to wait in line, the more the odds of building a loyal customer decrease.
  6. Measure And Survey:  Along with the right tools, you have to be able to measure your ability to deliver a personalized service and its impact on your organization.  Developing metrics to track performance is the key to constant improvement. In addition, you need to survey your customers to make sure you are meeting your goals.
  7. Solicit Employee Feedback:  Too often, companies look to data to find trends. While this is important, your front-line employees are engaging with your customers every day.  They see the impact of customer frustration and can be a huge asset when it comes to improving your systems and support.

Using Personalization To Grow Sales

Creating a consistently strong customer experience across all touchpoints is a necessity.  You can also apply those same personalization strategies to grow your revenue.

Here are some strategies that have proven to be successful for businesses:

  • Remarketing shoppers that left items in their shopping cart online but never completed their purchases
  • Identifying customers that have not done business with you recently and encouraging them to return
  • Pampering regular customers with incentives to buy more
  • Providing your best and most personal services to your high-dollar accounts to maximize lifetime value

Targeting Your Biggest Customers

The Pareto Principle has been cited in business since the 1800’s.  You may know it as the “80/20 Rule” where 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers.  It is worth your time and effort to target these high-volume customers and make sure you are personalizing and customizing their experience.  This one on one attention has the highest probability of high returns.

One of the biggest costs businesses have it customer acquisition.  Once you have convinced them to do business with you, you want to do everything you can to keep them in the fold.  The cost to keep an existing customer can be anywhere between 5 and 25 times less than getting a new one.

More Personalization Leads To Better Results

The more personalized you can make the customer experience, the better your results will be.  While it used to be a rare occurrence for customers, they are now demanding it. It is, quite simply, the price of entry in doing business in today’s world.

79% of consumers say they expect at least some kind of personalization when it comes to their customer experience.  How does your company stack up?

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