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personalizing customer interactions builds loyalty

If you are able to treat customers as individuals by personalizing their experiences, they will reward your dedication with loyalty of their own.

It goes without saying that customers always have high expectations in regard to customer service. Perhaps a tad ironically, as the number of channels by which they can interact with the contact center has grown, so their expectation of highly customized service has increased. Of course, with a greater number of communication channels, delivering any kind of personalization becomes increasingly difficult.

Nonetheless, customer expectations are only going to continue to rise, which means that in order to meet these needs, contact centers are going to have to deliver more personalized interactions. In this two-part blog, we will discuss firstly, why it is now important for centers to provide this kind of personalized service and how they can achieve this. In the second part, we will consider the technologies that can be implemented to enable a more personalized customer offering.

In today’s world, there is one simple reason for doing your utmost to deliver an exceptional experience to each and every individual customer – it will consistently lead to more loyal customers, and a more loyal customer base equates to higher revenues for your business.

Successful personalization is the foundation on which a good customer experience is built, and achieving this entails focusing on making every single customer feel valued. While a good first step in this process is to be able to greet the customer by name, it is imperative to understand that true personalization is about much more than this.

You should thus be leveraging as much customer data as you can get your hands on, in order to know everything you possibly can about each individual. The more you know, the easier it is to deliver the personalization they demand. And there is certainly no lack of customer data. In fact, most consumers are more than willing to share personal details with you, if they receive benefits in exchange. So offering customers discounts, vouchers or some other benefit in exchange for additional personal data should set you up nicely to obtain the information you require.

Of course, having the information is one thing, using it quite another. Thus it is also crucial that you ensure that your agents have instant access to all the relevant customer information at the right time, whatever channel the client chooses to use when making contact with your center.

Furthermore, you should be aware that consumers today have reached a stage where they actually expect your business to anticipate their future needs. Clients that use online shopping sites like Amazon are already aware these companies are able to offer them tailored offerings centered around the items they are browsing and the items they purchased previously.

Based on the above, it’s not hard to understand why there now exists this expectation that the customers want every organization they deal with, in whatever way, to be able to anticipate their needs.

One way of achieving this sort of performance is to route customers based on their service history and requirements. What is required is a solution capable of automatically tagging individual customers with a range of attributes that enables them to be directed to a specific agent, one that is trained to deal with that specific customer type. Ideally, what you want is to be able to route a customer who is calling again through to the same agent they spoke with the first time they called. This not only reduces their need to repeat themselves potentially but also gives the client a sense of continuity that doesn’t exist in a situation where they are simply sent to the next agent in line.

Moreover, if it is the same agent, they will be forewarned and be able to greet the customer by name and perhaps even engage in a moment or two of small talk with them – such an approach is far more likely to put the client at ease.

Naturally, personalization also requires your agents to know more than just the client’s name - using the appropriate title or acknowledgment is just as critical. Some people like to be referred to as ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms,’ but others actually prefer to be called by their first name, or even a nickname. While this is never easy to get right, it can be a very powerful draw card if you do.

One way this might be achieved is if, during an account set-up process, you include a query as to how they would like to be addressed in future, and then ensure this information is added to the customer data you make available to agents.

These agents should also be encouraged to listen closely to pick up on any subtle clues the customer may mention that can allow them to personalize the call further. For example, if they mention something about a spouse, children or a holiday they are planning, you can easily use this information to build a better rapport with them. This may seem slightly incongruous, but making small talk with the client about their family or planned vacation lets them know that their call is unique and they are not simply viewed as just another number.

Although the increasing number of contact channels may make personalizing things a bit trickier for your contact center, the fact that different generations have distinct preferences for different channels eases this challenge somewhat. Baby Boomers are known to prefer direct human interaction, so the routing approach described earlier will suit them. Millennials, on the other hand, have a clear preference for utilizing social channels. With this group, it may even be easier to personalize their experience, through the judicious use of slang, colloquialisms, and even emojis.

Regardless of the channels you end up using, remember that it’s about building relationships. Think about it: A consumer who previously called with a complaint now rings up for some information on a new product; they are sent to the same agent who served them before, and they are greeted by their name and immediately asked if they were satisfied with how their earlier complaint was dealt with. After this, the agent provides them with the relevant information and perhaps offers them an early bird voucher to obtain a discount on the product which they were enquiring about. An experience like this will truly make them feel like their voice is being heard, however impersonal the world seems to be becoming.

Finally, remember that customer engagement and the personalization of this is not about you, but, at the end of the day, is all about the customer. If you can find the points in the customer journey that require the most personal touch and can make incremental improvements to these areas - and thereby to the overall customer experience – your clients will reward you with stronger bonds of loyalty, better word of mouth and, ultimately, increased revenue