Want your customers to connect with you, feel attached to you, and be committed to staying with you? Then personalize the experience.
The recent Gladly 2020 Customer Expectations Report surveyed more than 1,500 adults in the U.S. to provide us with the latest information on what customers expect from the brands they do business with. One of the big takeaways for me was the stat that said:
79% say personalized service is more important than personalized marketing.
I’ve been writing about personalized marketing for years. The idea of creating personas to categorize the customers you have was the start. In other words, creating groups of customers who have similar interests. For example, Nike sells running shoes, basketball shoes, general training shoes and more. Each group of customers who buy a specific type of shoe would be considered a persona. Personalized marketing is directed toward the personas. For example, Nike wouldn’t try to sell running shoes to someone who buys only basketball shoes.
Personalized service is different. This takes it from marketing and sales to the individual level. You’re no longer communicating with a large group of customers. You are talking to one customer at a time, giving each one an experience that is unique and personal. And, what customers want you to know about them is fairly common sense. They want you to know who they are—by name. They want you to have access to their previous conversations with you and use those to your mutual benefit. And, they want you to know their purchase history.
The report goes on to talk about one “lifelong conversation.” This means you have one journey or experience with your customer. Each time they buy from you isn’t a new or different experience, but a continuation of the prior one. For example, if the customer walks into a store, the salespeople recognize him or her and continue the selling where they left off. And when customers call a support center, they don’t have to repeat the information from prior conversations. In person, on the phone, on a messaging app, etc., the customer is having just one long conversation with you that lasts, potentially, for years.
The result of the lifelong conversation concept is that customers feel as if they are known, heard and appreciated. And, according to the report, it pays to do this right. Eighty-four percent of customers will “go out of their way” to spend more money to get a great experience. That represents huge opportunities, one of which is that you may not have to worry about being the lowest price. The value you provide your customer, in the form of a personalized experience, helps makes price less important than other benefits.
Of course, if an organization provides unacceptable service, the customer will eventually walk. Sure, you already knew this, but what you may not know is just how quickly they will walk—51% of people will switch brands after just one or two bad experiences. Would you do business with a company or brand that treated you poorly and didn’t make you feel valued as a customer? Of course not!
The personalized experience pays off in more than just repeat business. It also creates evangelists, customers who are willing to praise and recommend you to their family members, friends and colleagues. Seventy-seven percent of customers would recommend you to friends and family, and 52% would recommend you on social media sites. Keep in mind that this type of recommendation, known as word-of-mouth marketing, is your best marketing. It doesn’t get better than having clients sing your praises to other potential customers.
So, get to know your customers. Make it personal. Hire and train employees you can count on to deliver the one-on-one experience customers want, and take advantage of technology, too. There are systems to track customer purchases and preferences, as well as recall information from previous phone interactions. The technology lays the foundation for your employees to relate to customers on a personal level, giving them the human connection they crave. And as you build relationships, you’re building your brand right along with them.