Personalization has become so commonplace that the only time we seem to notice it is when it’s absent. For instance, think about the last time you perused Netflix or Amazon. You were likely offered recommendations based on what you’d watched or purchased in the past. Now, imagine you loaded up those services today and all of those recommendations were gone. In their place were blanket advertisements for movies or products you had absolutely no interest in. It’s not beyond reason to assume you might be irritated. After all, you’ve given them tons of information over the years — why wouldn’t they use it?
Today’s consumers expect at least a basic level of personalization when spending their hard earned money. The brands they return to are the ones that make them feel like valued individuals — the ones that understand their needs and deliver the products they actually want. That’s why whether your business is brick-and-mortar or e-commerce based, success lies in creating personalized experiences for all customers.
Though there are countless ways to personalize the customer’s experience, it’s not wise to try all of them at once. Start small with the data you already have and do some rudimentary testing. See what works and what doesn’t, make adjustments, and polish each step of the process before moving on to the next. Here are some great ways to start giving your customers a little more bang for their buck:
Ask For Feedback
Talking to customers directly to determine their needs is the perfect jumping off point when it comes to personalization. Adhering to the simplest things — such as how they wish to be addressed, what contact channels they prefer, and how often they wish to receive communications — will go a long way in building loyalty. Not only will asking customers about their preferences personalize their experience, it’s also customer service 101 (which means you should be doing it regardless.)
Have Real Conversations
As a smartphone obsessed millennial, I can confirm that technology has not undermined our basic need to connect with other human beings. People still want to talk and relate to each other on a deeper level. That’s why regular conversations with your customers are so important. Not only will understanding their background help you personalize the relationship, incorporating the details they share with you in future conversations will make them feel that your brand values them as a person.
Create A Customer Profile
Those conversations you have with customers make it easy as pie to compile customer profiles that can guide offers, recommendations, and content across the board. With each interaction, the customer adds wants, needs, and preferences to the profile, making it richer and more robust. You can even use information gleaned from social networks (such as hobbies and interests) to really dial in on a customer and create a unique journey.
Customize Special Offers
So many branding efforts are one-size fits all and therefore continually miss the mark. Instead of offering a set discount on something many customers have never even looked at, use the data you have to customize the shopping experience for each and every customer. For example, if you notice a particular customer spends a relatively consistent amount each time they shop, offer free shipping for a moderate increase in purchase total.
Can The Canned Responses
There isn’t a single customer out there that has ever been truly satisfied with a canned response. This is especially true when there is a problem that needs to be rectified. Customer service is about making the customer feel valued — not just firing off quick responses. Context is everything. If your brand can’t have real conversations, you’ll find yourself in hot water really fast. If a customer reaches out to you, they’re looking for a connection — don’t let them down.
Make a Kind and Unexpected Gesture
Every single time a business has gone above and beyond for me, I’ve given them glowing reviews and spread positive word of mouth like it was going out of style. The smallest things, such as a handwritten thank you note or free sticker, have tipped the scales in their favor many a time for this consumer. What can I say, I’m a sucker for personalization!
Showing a little appreciation is a great way to really wow your customers. Handwritten notes, birthday wishes, small gifts — all will personalize the experience and build loyalty in spades.
Personalization — that is, giving customers relevant, helpful experiences that fit their needs — shows customers that they matter to your brand. If you’re not providing a personalized customer experience, it’s time to gather your data and get started. Knowing what your customers want and delivering it on a silver platter is the best way to keep them coming back for more!