Published: June 10, 2015 | Comments
There was a time when, if a website remembered your name, it was ‘creepy’. But now, if a site can’t remember your favorite products and delivery preferences, it’s plain annoying.
We live in an increasingly personalized world; from the way we browse the internet to the way we communicate on social media. When we turn on our laptop or go on our mobile, we’re instantly accessing our own personal bubble and we don’t expect to have to leave this personalized experience when we get in touch with a business.
Personalized service isn’t new. There was a time when a shopkeeper would know your name, but as small shops became international brands, businesses became too large and complex to deliver personal interactions.
However, the rise of the digital landscape, and the consequent rise in data available about your customers, meant that personalization was a possibility once again.
For a long time, this meant personalizing interactions for segments of your customer base, not individuals. But we’re now at a stage where individual personalization is possible.
So, why is 2015 the year of personalized customer service? Well, the consumer appetite is there and the technology is there to deliver it – plus, it makes business sense.
Customer service is a key differentiator
A 2015 report published on Econsultancy shows that 44% of companies see customer service/experience as the primary way to differentiate from the competition this year.
And by 2017, Gartner predicts this figure will rise to 89%. 2015 is the beginning of an upward trend towards total personalized customer experiences.
Historically, there have been three main differentiators: quality/innovation, price and service/experience. But as time goes by, more businesses compete on experience.
If you think about it, the elusive positive ‘experience’ is one of the few things that can’t be copied. How could anyone replicate a positive brand experience? It’s an emotional response and replicating it isn’t as straightforward as copying a special offer or bargain price.
Competing on price or product quality simply isn’t sustainable in today’s market. Customer service or ‘experience’ has become the only viable option – and personalizing customer communication is the only way to get that elusive experience right.
How to personalize customer interactions
2015 looks set to be the year where we see a more personalized service. But how will companies go about adding the personal touch?
1. Data, data and more data
It’s not enough for an agent to simply build up a rapport over the phone – they need to have the right data at their fingertips to make that interaction a success.
Currently, 94% of companies are not satisfied with their use of customer data, according to Aberdeen Group.
That’s a huge figure and reflects how much further businesses have to go when it comes to personalizing customer interactions. Too often data is siloed across different systems or departments, not giving the joined-up view of a customer that call center agents need.
With the right CRM, your call centre should become a treasure trove of data, which gives agents access to a single and concise view of each customer. With the right information, every interaction can be personalized – from referring to their last call to asking them how they liked their latest purchase, the data is there to treat every customer as an individual.
2. Intelligent call-routing
How a customer gets from dialing your number to speaking to one of your agents is crucial to the overall customer experience.
Intelligent call-routing is key – our solution, ContactWorld for Service uses Salesforce data to prioritize and route your inbound calls. There are limitless ways to route calls – from taking callers to the agents with the right expertise or someone they spoke to before, to prioritizing VIP customers – call routing personalizes how each customer interacts with your contact center.
ContactWorld also goes one step further, allowing you to prioritize frequent callers, as these customers are likely to be unhappy customers – this gives your agents the opportunity to turn them into happy customers with a priority service.
You can even prioritize customers based on their social media following. With news about bad service spreading like wildfire, businesses can limit the risk by prioritizing customers with a large audience on social media.
3. Multi-channel customer service
Part of providing a personalized service, is giving customers choice. They like to feel in control and there’s nothing more frustrating than having to jump through hoops to get in touch with a brand.
For instance, you should offer all communication channels as a way to get in touch. Let the customer choose how and when they contact you.
Once they’ve contacted you, they’re likely to get in touch again, but through a different channel. You need to be able to offer a seamless customer service experience, allowing customers to hop from one channel to the next, but treating each channel as if it’s part of one conversation.
As the world we live in gets increasingly personalized, providing a personalized customer experience becomes even more important.
How do you plan to personalize your customer communications in 2015? What progress do you expect to see in the years ahead? Share your thoughts below.