Which company first mastered the art of personalization? Was it Amazon? Google? Netflix?
In truth, it was probably your neighborhood mom-and-pop store. Upon entering the store, the customer was greeted by name (recognized profile), engaged in pleasantries (built trust), enquired about the customer’s family (recognized relationships), helped them pick a gift for a relative (made recommendations) and suggested new products (offered upsell). They knew how to create a personal connection with the customer—and keep them coming back.
Today, thanks to the availability of customer data, you don’t need a face-to-face relationship to personalize experiences. Companies like Apple, Amazon and Netflix have taken the lessons learned from mom-and-pop stores and amplified them. Yes, companies still know customers’ names, but they also know the last item they viewed, the last item they searched for, and so on—providing extremely detailed insights into customer behavior that they can use to shape every aspect of their experience.
Valuable data about the customer include:
- Purchase history
- Buying habits
- Mode of communication
- Contact preferences
- Channel preferences
- Time spent browsing on the website
- Page views
- Number of clicks
- Lead source
- Geographic location
- Social media activity
Personalization is an important tool for providing a great customer experience, because it’s an essential component of keeping customers loyal. Customers who believe personalized experiences are appealing are 10 times more likely to be a brand’s most valuable customer. With the increasing prevalence of subscription business models, companies must tailor experiences in such a way that customers will keep engaging with their service for months and years on end, providing a reliable stream of revenue.
Let’s look at three different ways companies can provide those vital personalized experiences:
- Personalization Takes Customers on a Journey
With diverse demographics, not all customers start their purchase journeys in the same way. Some may look at a product on their phone, while others receive an offer in the mail and then go in store to make a purchase. But every interaction in a customer journey marks an opportunity to personalize their experience. It’s obligatory to use data to anticipate the needs of the customer, and thus offer a personalized experience.
Consider Amazon. When a customer looks at an item but doesn’t put it in their basket, Amazon sends a reminder that the item is still available. The company brings the customers back into the purchase journey. They also send customers recommendations of what they think customers might like—which lures customers back to Amazon. Amazon also uses browsing data to present customers with similar offers, increasing spend on their platform.
- Personalization Taps into Emotion
A customer who can make an emotional connection with a brand or product, is more likely to become an avid supporter of that business. This approach’s effectiveness can be seen at Netflix, where they personalize content recommendations down to the artwork they use to promote the show. According to ClickZ, “images with expressive facial emotions perform well” and get the most engagement.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools can assist to extract information on how customers respond to different offers as well as tap into sentiment analysis in social posts. This information can be used to reach out to people as individuals and meet their distinct needs, which will make them steadfast customer.
- Personalization Takes a 360-Degree View
A unified view of the customer across all channels provides continuity. Consider an interaction in which the customer is using the self-serve portal to add international roaming to their daughter’s mobile plan. When the customer needs additional information that is not available online, they want to chat with a customer representative.
When the customer initiates contact with a customer representative, the representative should have the browsing history and customer account information available so they can continue the on-line conversation and finalize the sale. Without the holistic view of the account, the customer representative would have sidelined valuable insights that could be used to personalize the offer and delight the customer.
Arguably, customer behavior has evolved, but the tricks of the trade of mom-and-pop stores can still work like a charm with the modern customer. It’s not old-fashioned to treat customers as people with unique needs and desires. A satisfying customer experience is about making personal connections with the customer. There’s no greater way to make a lasting impression.