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Personalized Customer Service: Making Customers Fall in Love With You

In today’s market, companies are competing hard against each other for the customer’s attention.

More and more, the quality of customer experience becomes the differentiating factor that decides which company wins in the end. Businesses that excel at customer experience have a 14% advantage in their respective market.

And the biggest aspect of customer experience? It’s service personalization — how tailored the experience is to individual customers.

Let’s explore the advantages of making customer service more personalized, and 5 tips on how to achieve it, today.

Why make customer service more personalized?

If at any point a customer walks away from your business dissatisfied, that’s a wasted opportunity to sell and/or win their loyalty.

So, how does service personalization come into play? According to customer retention studies, personalized customer service is a huge differentiator.

A study performed by Knexus estimates that 56% of consumers are more willing to shop with retailers that have personalized customer service.

A research by Segment found that lack of personalization caused frustration in 71% of consumers, with 44% of customers developing brand loyalty after personalized shopping.

This also translates directly into willingness to buy: 40% of US consumers admit that they have paid a higher price for a product than planned due to personalized customer service.

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Now that we, hopefully, have your undivided attention, the question is: how do you make customer service feel more personalized?

While we can’t make an entire service strategy for you, there are some small, concrete steps you can take that would instantly improve your situation.

5 tips to make your service tailored to customers

Tip 1. Use customer names

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie opines that “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”

His finding is supported by science: research has shown that our brains become ecstatic when we hear our name called, drawing our attention immediately to the sound.

On a more informal level, look at it this way: we’ve only got 7 seconds on average to make a first impression — and using the name of a person opposite of you is the quickest way to win their sympathy.

That’s exactly why companies who greet their customers by name are seen as more empathetic and their service as more personalized.

So this is the advice: use the names of customers in communication with them, be it a face-to-face interaction, direct mail correspondence, or newsletters.

Make them feel that you see individuals in them, not just customer base.

Read more:

The Power of Using Customer Names

Why You Should Use Customer Names

Tip 2. Smile and make eye contact

Smiling is a universal way to display joy. (Sorry that we have to go through Human Interactions 101, but it’s important that we’re on the same page here.)

What every front-line employee needs to keep in mind is that smiling is also contagious.

We tend to mimic the facial expressions of our peers to better understand their emotional state. When we mimic someone else’s facial expression, we also trigger the same emotion in ourselves.

It’s an evolutionary mechanism passed down to us from generations ago — something that researchers call “sensorimotor simulation”.

You may notice that even smiling while on the phone changes the tone of your voice.

But there’s more to smiling at others than creating this feel-good state in them. The effect of smiles extends to the behavior of people.

A positive mood induced by a smile was found to make passersby more willing to help other strangers.%20tested%20800%20passersby.)

That’s why friendly greeting and looking customers straight in the eye is a win-win action: you make yourself appear more approachable and, at the same time, ensure that interactions with the customer are more pleasant.

The numbers speak for themselves: 73% of customers say they fall in love with a brand thanks to friendly employees.

Read more:

Why Great Customer Service Begins With a Smile

Tip 3. Loyalty programs

Transforming one-time consumers into loyal customers has many advantages:

  1. Lower service costs. Service reps spend less time on average serving a repeat customer, as customer data, such as preferences, shopping behavior, etc. has already been collected.

  2. Lower sensitivity to price changes. Repeat customers are less likely to abandon their purchase due to a gradual increase in price. They value convenience over costs.

  3. Willingness to share feedback. As there’s an emotional connection to a brand, loyal customers are more willing to share their opinions when prompted to (or even on their own).

All of the above — plus the fact that repeat customers tend to bring 20-40% of revenue — make customer loyalty almost a necessiry rather than luxury.

One of the ways to foster this loyalty, as well as achieve a level of personalization, is by employing loyalty programs.

(Look, the “loyalty” is even in the name!)

By providing rewards for exhibiting certain behaviors — such as making a purchase beyond a specific value threshold — you reinforce these behaviors.

For example, if a customer receives bonus points for making large purchases and then can spend these bonus points on another purchase of their choosing, you:

  1. Create a cost-sunk effect: a customer now holding an X number of bonus points feels that he or she might as well spend them on an additional purchase. Otherwise, they’re wasted.

  2. Encourage the same behavior in the future: “I get discounts simply for shopping? Count me in!”

  3. Create a sense of personalization: if a customer can spend these points on any future purchase, they feel agency and control over their actions.

Moreover, loyalty programs help you gather additional data about your customers. In essence, they make it even easier to market to customers in a personalized way.

Read more:

Personal Customer Experience Builds Brand Loyalty

Tip 4. Use human-like language

“W-what do you mean? I am 100% a homo sapiens,” you might say, desperately trying to hide your antennas and tail.

Words reinforce our perception of reality. Moreover, words help us shape someone else’s perception of reality.

Using human-like language, just like smiling or using customers’ names, can improve the ways in which the customer communicates and responds to you.

One of the traits of empathetic employees is that they don’t use negatively charged words, like “don’t”, “won’t” or “can’t”.

To show your empathy, you need to know which customer service phrases to use and which customer service phrases to avoid.

Example: saying “I don’t understand” is a no-no. Saying “I hear you”, however, gets you on good terms with the customer.

In Japanese customer service, known for its emphasis on politeness, this is known as keigo, or “respectful language”. Japanese clerks use extremely polite phrasing when referring or responding to customers.

The intent is to make each customer feel personally cared for and catered to. You don’t see them as part of a faceless crowd of consumers; you see and approach them as individuals.

Read more:

How to Show Empathy to Customers

Tip 5. Collect customer data

According to the Online Personal Experience study released by Janrain, 74% of online shoppers feel frustrated when web content and ads are not personalized.

Now, tailoring web content to individual users requires the use of personal data. A study showed that 65% of customers agreed on sharing their information in exchange for more targeted offers with respect to their preferences.

Even offline, customers welcome a more personal, data-driven approach during in-store communications. This includes discounts, loyalty points, coupons but also preference-based promotional offers.

By collecting data, retailers can gain a better understanding of wants and needs of their customers.

On a broader scale, customer behavior data can also help optimize store layout, queuing strategy, impulse purchasing, and even shift planning.

When it comes to understanding another human being, we tend to rely on our guts. But if we’re talking about understanding a customer, the only way is to rely on numbers and historical data.

Read more:

Gathering Customer Data to Improve Service Flow

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Offering personalized customer experience is one the surest way to get a leg up on the competition.

According to Accenture, businesses that offer personalization will get a slice of a $2.95 trillion prize by 2025. But personalization isn’t something that you can fake.

Many brands nowadays are trying to present themselves as “non-brands”, if that makes any sense. They want to appear hip, cool, friendly and non-corporate — as your friends, not faceless businesses.

Without heavily investing in service personalization, all this amounts to is a transparent act that only serves to scare customers away.

You want to talk the talk? You have to walk the walk.

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