In today’s digital age, where products and services can be bought from virtually anywhere in the world, personalized CX (customer experience) becomes a key differentiator. In fact, 88% of customers say the experience a company provides is just as important as its product or services. To attract and retain customers, brands must deliver the highly personalized experiences that customers crave.
Good CX drives loyalty because your customers will remember the exceptional experience they had with your brand the next time they consider purchasing something. And since the cost of acquiring new customers is so much higher than retaining existing customers, it’s time to invest in personalizing your CX.
What is Personalized CX?
Personalized customer experiences are simply interactions between a customer and a company that are tailored to each user’s characteristics or preferences. Rather than treating customers like segments or categories, personalized CX is about treating customers like individuals.
But when customers are used to the Netflix algorithm knowing what they want to watch before they do, Starbucks sending them discounts on a pumpkin spice latte the moment the first leaf falls, and Amazon realizing when their household is out of mouthwash, how can brands possibly compete? Here are 5 steps to creating customized customer experiences at scale.
Understand the customer journey
Map out the journey your customers take before making a purchase with you. By doing this, you’ll get a better understanding of your customers’ needs and expectations, as well as what moves them further along the path and what obstacles might stand in the way. You’ll discover how and when they want to communicate with you, so you can build out an omnichannel communication strategy with key touchpoints that have elements of personalization.
Use data to provide tailored experiences
Without accurate, well-organized data, you don’t stand a chance of delivering individualized experiences. Use a customer relationship management system (CRM) to centralize customer data and track customer relationships.
Data on your customer base as a whole can enable more accurate segmentation, but you can also use this data to better serve the individual. So when Carole Smith, who’s been a loyal customer since 2005, contacts your customer service department to return the dining room chair she bought for $159.99 on October 15, your agents have all that data at their fingertips and can treat Carole like the VIP that she is.
Listen to your customers
This may seem like an obvious first step, but it’s a good one. 83% of customers are willing to share their data to enable a personalized experience as long as brands are transparent about how they use that data.
Give your customers the option to select their location and language of preference on your website, ask them to save their favorite items on your app, and allow them to choose what kind of offers they’d like to receive in your newsletter. If you’re a B2C company, send out surveys so you can collect and analyze that data. If you’re a B2B company, ensure you have regular check-in meetings or set up a Slack channel so you can communicate directly with your customers.
Related: Why Are Brands Not Listening To Their Customers?
Empower your customer service agents
Your customer service agents are the ones with boots on the ground, communicating with your customers every day, so they know what they want. Regularly check in with your agents to see if they notice any trends in what your customers are asking.
Agents should also feel empowered to surprise and delight your customers when appropriate. Ritz Carlton hotels famously allow their employees to spend up to $2,000 per day to wow their guests. While this might not be feasible for your company, allowing your agents to accept a return for a loyal customer in exceptional circumstances or provide a small discount can make agents feel trusted and customers feel valued.
Related: Amazon Customer Service: 6 Things That Make It An Effortless Experience
Leverage automation for increased customization
Many assume that more personalization requires more human interaction, but that’s not always the case. AI and machine learning can actually help create more personalized interactions, especially when you have a large customer base. Machine learning can analyze vast amounts of data to uncover trends. And an AI-powered chatbot or virtual agent can pull data from your CRM to personalize customer conversations or even instantly resolve requests.
What’s more, automating simple requests frees up agents to dedicate more time to cases that are more complex, enabling more personalization and better customer support overall.
Brand Examples of Personalized CX
When it comes to best-in-class CX, we’ve mentioned Netflix, Starbucks, Amazon, and Ritz Carlton. But what about brands that don’t have billion-dollar budgets? Here are some smaller brands getting personalized CX right.
StitchFix delivers personalized subscription boxes of clothing. To get an idea of their taste and see examples of what they might receive in a box, users complete a style quiz upon sign-up. To take it to the next level, StitchFix introduced a game called “Style Shuffle”, where customers could give a thumbs up or down to various items, powering better recommendations for them, and increased revenue for the business.
Music streaming service Deezer prompts customers to choose at least 3 of their favorite artists when they sign up. As users continue to listen, Deezer leverages human curation and machine learning to analyze what listeners like to generate an infinite mix that suits their tastes.
Deezer has also started using AI-powered automation to better serve its customers 24/7, across all digital channels, in 7 different languages. This provides their global audience with more personalized support, and it saves Deezer 200 agent hours per week.
Grammarly sends its users a weekly report that summarizes how they’ve used the tool. From their most common mistakes to an analysis of their writing technique, Grammarly uses data to tell a story about how their customers use the product. This serves double-duty to remind customers how useful the tool is and give them a customized experience filled with insights on how their writing has progressed.
A Final Word on Personalized CX
Personalized CX doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as easy as asking your customers what they want — bootcut or skinny jeans? Ed Sheeran or Eminem? It can also simply mean presenting their data back to them in a way that feels personalized, whether that’s giving them a weekly update or greeting them as a member of your loyalty program.
By getting a holistic view of your customers’ journeys, analyzing how they behave, asking what they want, listening to your agents, and leveraging technology like automation, your brand can deliver exceptional, personalized customer experiences.
Bex Shapiro is Head of Brand & Content at Ultimate, a leading virtual customer service agent platform. Image by SplitShire from Pixabay.