It’s no longer enough for brands to just help customers finish their transactions in the age of e-commerce and social media. Nowadays, brands must be more proactive in the customer journey and build connections with their consumers through personalized customer experiences by developing products, services, and/or interactions that meet a customer’s unique and individual requirements. Better customer interactions are the key to success.
Now more than ever, a personalized customer experience is no longer just a unique perk or a competitive advantage—it’s become a necessity. Some of the world’s biggest retailers, such as Amazon, have built their success on the back of creating a personalized customer experience that remembers a customer’s preferences, buyer history, likes, and more. In fact, up to 80% of adults now want personalization from their retailers.
But how do you create a personalized customer experience in the first place?
Know your customers better
Given the vastness of the digital world, it’s important not only for you to determine who your customers are (the demographics) but also to understand how they think and what appeals to them (psychographics) to effectively reach them and create personalized experiences for them.
In determining your target market, it helps to first think about what needs your product/service fulfills. Answering this question can lead you to consider other factors such as buying power, geographical location, etc. For example, a salesman selling men’s clothing may suggest different styles to a father of two and a fresh university graduate. A firm selling HR solutions software may offer different products or services to a start-up and a conglomerate. Do your research on the industry, business, and people you want to target even before you start talking to them.
Fortunately, there are a ton of different ways for businesses to get to know their customers better. For instance, sending out customer surveys is one of the best methods to gain honest feedback. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are pillars of the online customer relationship and also provide insights on customer’s likes, their habits, and most importantly what they are buying. LinkedIn gives businesses a way to connect with one another and figure out how to best collaborate. Asking your customers or corporate clients for their thoughts directly during meetings, whether it be face-to-face or virtually, is the best opportunity to understand their needs better.
Getting to know your customers is no easy feat, but the good news is there are now more tools and data than ever to help you do so.
Don’t just make it about you, make it about them
Customers want to know more about your brand, but it’s also important for them to connect with your brand and your story.
The connection you build with your customers has to be authentic, meaningful, and relevant to them. Ask your customer thoughtful questions such as how they found your product/service, what about your product/service they liked best, and what else you could do to improve how your business operates.
Additionally, your brand needs to be able to listen. Let your customers know you care by offering them your full attention.
Telecommunications firm Lumen is a good example of what it means to go above and beyond. With 39,000 employees worldwide handling a mix of B2C and B2B relations, the company was looking for a company-wide solution to help them better respond to customer needs. To better interface with customers and clients, Lumen instituted a centralized, agile platform called Qualtrics that streamlined communications. For example, the Qualtrics mobile app let Lumen employees interface with customers/clients through mobile and solve pain points even on the go. Not only did this move ensure the Lumen team was easier to reach than ever, but it also showed that they cared enough to talk to customers and clients on a platform convenient for them (mobile).
In the age of social media where almost anything can be faked, being authentic is a surefire way to stand out from the competition.
Customer feedback is vital
Customer feedback is key to guiding and informing your business’ decision-making and shaping the future of your products/services. It’s also essential to measuring customer satisfaction.
As a result, you should keep your communication lines open—and it’s easier to do than ever. Aside from the usual customer service hotline, your brand should keep an eye on social media platforms. The comments section of your brand’s Facebook page is often a goldmine for customer feedback. Additionally, e-commerce sites such as Amazon also have sections for reviews immediately seen by anyone.
Since not all customers respond to surveys or leave their feedback out in the open, and it also does not apply to all businesses, setting up calls to catch up and get their honest thoughts on how your business helped them and how you can enhance it would be a great way to genuinely show you value the relationship.
Once you’ve collected enough customer feedback, it’s also equally important to know what to do with it. First, identify product/service improvement areas from their feedback. The chances are good that a customer who goes out of their way to give feedback is quite familiar with what your brand has to offer. Listen to their ideas as not only is it a great way to revisit areas you may have overlooked, but it also shows your business genuinely cares about improvement.
Second, it’s crucial to see even negative feedback as an opportunity. Unhappy customers will need a little extra work: call them, understand their pain points and ensure you do your best to make them happy. Though it may take a while, being able to turn a critic into a supporter of your brand is a sure sign that your business is dedicated to connecting with the customer.
The road to personalized customer experience
A better customer experience leads to a better business overall. According to consulting firm Bain & Company, companies with a customer experience mindset drive revenue 4-8% higher than the rest of their industries. A superior customer experience also creates loyal customers who can turn into promoters with a lifetime value 6-14 times that of detractors.
The responsibility is on businesses to be determined in finding ways to personalize the customer experience. This is why solutions providers such as Dale Carnegie of Singapore even offer key resources on building relationships with customers, in order to teach businesses how to create value for customers that will last a lifetime. With their eBook, you’ll learn everything you need to build a customer relationship that can withstand even the toughest of competition.
Again, by investing in the interests and experiences of the customer, your business will reap the benefits tenfold. Take a similar approach to customers as you would with friends—in the words of Dale Carnegie: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”