“Personalization wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff as everyone else sees. No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behaviour as the most important clue about what people want and more important, what they need.” – Seth Godin
The quote is a true definition of personalization in customer service – unless a company’s efforts creates stronger ties and long lasting relationships with customers, it would need to keep trying. Personalization in customer service is about keeping customers happy and satisfied in its association with the company. Without customers there is no business – they can either make or ruin a business and hence to take good customer relationships to great, personalization in customer service must remain a consistent effort. Personalization in customer service is the route to establishing trust and confidence with customers, which in turn leads to repeat business, loyalty, and brand advocacy from them.
The need for personalization in customer service has become more pronounced now since customers are now a more demanding and fastidious ‘breed’. They expect to be treated well and receive individual attention – with so many competitors for a single company, customers know that companies will comply. Customer needs vary – we know that no two customers are alike and hence they cannot be served by an ‘umbrella’ kind of service, leading to the need for personalization. Customers have evolved – are more involved, have a wider knowledge base and are unwilling to compromise on the standards they set. With such wisdom and experience in dealing with companies, it has become tough for companies to give them anything but the best. Higher expectations of standards in service have led to companies aiming for personalization in customer service in every interaction, with each customer.
Personalization in customer service leads customers to feel more connected and engaged with a company. These feelings ensure reduced opportunities for strife and customer churn – customers would feel proud to be associated with a company and would do their bit to let others know of their happy experiences. Positive word of mouth would attract other potential customers to explore business relations with a company – this is a more potent form of advertising than any other method. Through personalization in customer service, companies gain a better and more in-depth understanding of their current and potential customer base. The greater the understanding of the customer needs and expectations, the more individualized products and services a company can create for its customers. The demand for such products would definitely be greater, leading to higher sales and profits for the company.
Customers are a discerning lot – when they perceive genuine efforts towards personalization in customer service, they are sure to reciprocate the company’s efforts. With consistent efforts on the part of the company, customers willingly take on the role of brand ambassadors and actively spread good things about the company and its offerings. Since people are more likely to become customers when they read reviews and comments of current customers, such brand advocacy bodes very well for a company.
Personalization in customer service also encompasses customized messages and content for customers. With so many choices and an overwhelming amount of information available to customers now, it becomes difficult for them to choose. In order to cut through this ‘noise’ and confusion, messages and content that are precise and lucid, hit home better with customers. Such messages also ensure that information passes to customers speedily and is readily usable. Speed, reliability, and usefulness are three extremely important factors for customers when deciding who they remain associated with and for how long. Through personalization in customer service, companies display their knowledge about the customer’s preferences, previous buying behaviour and history and their relationships with the company’s competitors. Customers in turn, reciprocate by willingly sharing information about them, which tells a company that a customer feels engaged and connected with it and would be happy to contribute to its success.
Companies that believe in the efficacy of personalization in customer service would invest in technology and systems that would enable them to process customer information more rapidly and efficiently. Customers expect that companies would make the effort to utilize such resources such that they can consistently develop tailored and customized products and services. In addition, the ‘feel’ of personalization in customer service must extend to online experiences as well. Customers now have a plethora of means to communicate with a company and can choose to buy either online or in store – they expect that their experiences in both realms would be the same – personalized and focused on them. Personalization in customer service, therefore, now has increasing impact and importance and those companies that recognize this have a better chance at success.
While most companies agree that personalization in customer service has its benefits, some seem to lag behind in their efforts in this regard. This is probably because such personalization poses some significant challenges, which not every company may have the bandwidth to overcome. Personalization in customer service requires in-house capacity to collect, collate, store and analyse huge amounts of data got from a plethora of sources and this requires specialized technology and training. Personalization requires the whole company to be aligned towards it, ensuring that every customer’s journey with the company is happy and beneficial. It implies an unspoken bond between the company and the customers – a bond that encompasses an understanding that the company would safeguard and utilize, customer information provided, judiciously. In turn, customers would willingly present ideas and recommendations, which the company can use to become more efficient and produce more customized offerings.
There are a number of ways that a company can display its commitment to customers and increase the levels of personalization in customer service. Ensure that your company is always there for the customer – round the clock service, due attention to their needs and meticulous service whenever they connect and through whatever means. Adding a smile, pleasantness, and courtesy to each interaction is crucial to maintain personalization in customer service. Customers want to trust the company it is doing business with – it is the onus of the company to ensure that it keeps its promises to the customers, in order to keep that trust.
Show personalization in customer service by addressing each customer by name. This increases engagement and builds a personal connection with them, making them feel valued and important. Think back to your own experiences as a customer – was it not a great feeling to be addressed by name and a genuine smile? A company can display personalization even in the messages it sends out by adding the customer’s name to the message.
There a many ways that a company can show personalization in customer service and companies should make it a point to include as many of these as possible. Personalization leads to trust and can alter customer behaviour and buying patterns in favour of a company – for a very long time. Personalization in customer service comes about by genuinely wanting to serve customers, ensuring that employees are well taken care of, and raising the overall standards of using emotional intelligence prevalent in the company. What would you say is the level of personalization in your company?