Consistently Personalizing Customer Service

“A customer service apology is stronger with a personal touch,” – Shep Hyken

Customer service is one of the pivots on which modern business enterprises revolve. Serving the customer with a smile can be said to be the basic form of personalizing customer service. A business that is serious about itself and its customers should make such service a business priority. This is especially relevant in the service industry where the business and the customer often operate in close contact. The primary intent behind service personalization is to offer a custom service experience to every paying customer. Secondary intentions include the business imperative to widen the customer base, retain existing customers, create a signature business reputation, and develop a deeper rapport with business customers.

A business enterprise should seriously consider the downside of not personalizing customer service. Customers may not be pleased at the prospect of regularly encountering cookie-cutter service experiences and this may prompt a mass flight of customers to competing businesses. This situation could seriously dent business prospects and imperil the competitiveness quotient of the enterprise. Consider this: a mobile telecom services operator can choose to direct all customer complaints and problems to a call centre staffed with the operator’s business executives. The telephone-powered contact centre is the primary touch point of the business with its customers. A negative customer service experience is generated every time the call centre keeps customers on hold, or when an executive is not able to fully answer a customer’s queries and concerns. In addition, unfriendly and impolite customer service agents may cause consternation among customers and this can serve to sour the end-user experience of the paying customers. The word-of-mouth publicity generated from such negative experiences can drive customers to competing business enterprises and dent the corporate reputation of the said telecom service provider. Therefore, not personalizing customer service can exact a heavy price from any business enterprise.

Personalizing customer service can also signal intent to keep customers happy at all times. Every single customer represents revenues and sales to the business enterprise. Therefore, the business must actualise its staff and management cadre to serve the customers better. Businesses must bear in mind that we live and work in an era of multiple brands and competing business enterprises. The customer is aware of the many choices and his rights. Therefore, the said business must go out of its way to fashion consistently a noteworthy end-user experience by personalizing customer service. We may examine the hospitality industry to illustrate the point. Every hotel has a system that guests may use to wake up in the mornings. Usually, the wake-up call service plays automated messages to remind guests to start their day at a specific time. The service differentiation begins when the hotel chooses to deploy a human staff member to call the guest’s telephone and wish him or her a good morning – this experience can certainly delight the customer and may result in multiple customer wins. Such courteous gestures highlight the hotel’s concern for immaculate customer service and should win it plaudits in the hospitality industry.

Personalizing customer service also indicates that a business is keen to highlight the human face of doing business in a world that is being powered increasingly by automation technologies. The human touch can help to foster deep business relationships that will stand the test of time. The competition for customers is intense in modern times and a personalized service experience is one of the tools that a business can deploy to retain its customers. We have to bear in mind that this attitude should be a conscious decision among the management cadre, not an afterthought. In effect, there is no merit in bolting the stables after the horses have fled. A consistently executed customer service experience should be a watchword in every business enterprise.

The use of various electronic technologies can be used to achieve the corporate goal of personalizing customer service. Email addresses, cell phone numbers, personal identification papers, and full names of guests and their spouses can be stored in the IT systems of business enterprises. Technology can be used to record and preserve customer preferences without any effort on the part of the paying customer. In addition, efforts should be made to consistently add information regarding the likes and dislikes, the preferences and personal choices of each customer. These can be collated to develop a complete profile of each customer; such initiatives can be leveraged by the modern business enterprise to craft a unique service experience for every individual customer. In effect, the business can create a one-to-one relationship with the customer. When repeated consistently, these activities can multiply the effect of achieving customer delight. However, we must bear in mind that care should be taken not to infringe on the privacy rights of customers because this is a sensitive issue in many countries. Enterprises should endeavour to stay on the right side of the law of the land and request permission from guests before collecting personal information.

The evolution of business landscapes has wrought changes in every aspect of doing business. Personalizing customer service is important because the multiplicity of services offers exhaustive options to the modern customer. It must be borne in mind that most customers choose good-value-for-their-money options in day-to-day transactions. However, a fantastic customer service reputation also has immeasurable power to attract and retain customers. Companies that choose to deliver positive experiences to every customer tend to attract more and more business opportunities and therefore, exert an edge over their competitors. This could be one reason why management cadres in modern corporations include a chief customer experience officer. This position is expected to monitor and improve all the customer experiences that a business creates in every field of its operations. The officer is expected to impart direction in the creation of new standards of service, and attempt to meld customer service into the core business ethic.

Personalizing customer service should enable any business enterprise to create its own distinct identity. The ceaseless pursuit of such goals can enhance brand value and brand recall among customers, thereby unleashing multiple benefits that can help to raise the business above its competition. We must bear in mind that the whole process should begin in the mind of the business enterprise and the high service standards should percolate down to the lowest rungs of the business. Over time, said service attitude will become part of the corporate work ethic and can be executed without any special effort on the part of the business or its personnel.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined the benefits of personalizing customer service. A happy customer can be counted as a priceless business asset that offers manifold returns, both tangible and intangible. The perfect business enterprise should ideally nurture its corporate culture and train its staff members to arrive at such service levels. Customer appreciation, customer loyalty, and customer retention will automatically follow these hallowed service standards. It is interesting to note that modern enterprises are following in the footsteps of basic commercial etiquette when they seek to personalize the customer service experience. Tradecraft down the ages has valued a smiling shopkeeper as the first step in the journey to achieve customer service in the true sense of the term.


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