Steps to Customer Service Personalization

“By far, the most requested improvement from customers was “Better Human Service” – Genesys Global Survey, 2009

Every company now can claim that they provide customer service – they have to. However, going by the statement above from the survey it is clear that customer service personalization is what customers want. They want tailored experiences, where every product is right for them and priced adequately to meet their financial needs. The mistake that companies make is trying to personalize service and products without understanding their customer – this even sounds far-fetched and impossible to do. Company websites have several ‘visitors’ daily and most of them would be unknown and the company would have no information about them. How would a company be able to direct these ‘random’ visitors to the right product or service?

With the internet and technology and the stupendous rise in the number of companies, the average customer receives thousands of messages aimed at selling and promotions. This can be extremely overwhelming, and for customers to decide in a company’s favour they would need to see something different and unique. Customer service personalization is that unique feature and a way to cut through the noise and standout in the melee. Hard data backs this claim – surveys reveal that at least 75% customers prefer service personalization and customized offers and about 61% would be willing to provide private details for personalization on a consistent basis. Customer service personalization is therefore, not a nice to have but an absolute necessity for companies.

Those companies that may still not have woken up to the aspect of personalization would practically be stopping the inflow of money and huge profits. Data shows that personalized emails, one single form of communication, have the ability to generate around six times more revenue from each email, than impersonal and generalized emails. Personalized campaigns and multi-channel messaging, done consistently, have an outstanding chance of gaining higher responses and conversions than some dead beat ‘umbrella’ ones. With so much business conducted online now, personalization is becoming tougher given that there are hardly any face-to-face interactions between companies and their customers. However, this aspect of service is what customers demand the most. They expect companies to engage with them as soon as they make a connection – even if it is through key word searches.

Whatever a company does for its customers, is service, and hence customer service personalization is a broad realm that encompasses a very large spectrum. It starts by a company’s ability to capture large amounts of data that can be analysed to understand customer behaviour, buying patterns, current demands, and even future needs. This is a huge source of ‘wealth’ generation for companies, if they use the data properly and are able to structure their products and service around the findings. Customers leave all kinds of data when they are online – whether it is what they were looking for on the internet, the kind of posts on social media that they responded to, products they browsed, companies they looked up, and other such data – all this becomes highly useful and useable information. Companies can use this data for customer service personalization, without even interacting with those customers.

Customers become more amenable to reciprocate with personal details when companies demonstrate their ability to understand their needs without actually interacting personally with them. This in turn leads customers to interact with the company and may be even begin buying from the company regularly. Customer service personalization is actually not that hard anymore. Social media now presents an unprecedented opportunity to companies to understand its customers – both existing and target – beyond their work and business. There are insights into the personal aspect of people’s lives – their likes, preferences, what they strongly believe in, and other such data that people may not share directly with companies even through feedback surveys, direct interactions, and other means. The information about customers on social media is real time – it reflects the current state of mind of customers. This makes the information even more potent and if companies truly care, they would respond with pertinent offers that would make the customers feel special and trigger an emotional response in them, towards the company.

Customer service personalization is not just about the good and happy stuff. It has also, in fact more to do, with a company’s ability and willingness to respond to negative comments from customers. When customers are unhappy, they now turn to social media to vent, – this could either, turn to extreme negativity for the company or could prove to be a great opportunity for it to create a lasting impression for itself. By responding in a direct, swift, and personalized manner, a company could not only restore its relationship with the customer, but also gain a lot of support from other readers. This allows a company to portray itself as genuine, focused on the customer, one that does not hesitate to accept its mistakes – all these factors have a major and lasting impact.

By focusing on data from various sources, companies are more likely to uncover trends, niche markets, and untapped customer bases. Emails and CRM data provide information only on the company’s existing customer base – while paying attention to online data opens up a wider market and new avenues of business. Companies can then create material and content that would be highly pertinent and specific to these particular audiences – addressing even potential customers in a highly personalized manner. Imagine how this set of prospects would feel about a company. We think the company would have a pretty good chance at converting a large section of this ‘set’ to actual buying customers.

It is surprising that with so much ‘power’ that companies now have – what with customer data freely available, automation tools, newer ways of marketing, multi-channels for communication, and other such new techniques – some still lag behind on customer service personalization. A single keyword that a customer searches, would suffice to let customers know exactly what the customer is looking for and what their current mood and emotions are. ‘Targeting’ moods and emotions of customers was never so easy and companies that can manage them are more likely to gain more success and profits. With the information now available, it is now even easier for companies to segment customers into sets and groups – based on demographics and other details. Once a company knows, which group a customer would ‘fall into’ it would make it simpler for them to create messages, products, and service that would immediately find favour.

Customer service personalization includes everything from responses to unhappy customers, offers of discounts, promotional messages about new or re-launched products depending on the interest and need of the customer, cross selling or upselling on products and or service –basically, the entire gamut of activities connected with customers. As customers begin to see messages that are pertinent to them, their level of engagement and willingness to share information with a company would increase. Companies must grab every such opportunity and turn them in their favour, before someone else does. There is far too much competition in every industry, for any company to miss any opportunity or even fail to recognize and create opportunities for itself. Is your company ready with its customer service personalization strategy?

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