Personalized customer experience is no longer an option. It's a requirement.
A 2021 McKinsey study asked customers whether they “expect” brands to offer customization, and a whopping 71 percent of consumers agreed it was necessary. Perhaps even more interesting: 76 percent admitted feeling frustrated when personalization isn’t an option.
While personalized customer service may be the new normal, companies are still figuring out how to offer this to individual customers without sacrificing speed, retention or price.
But personalized interactions can add complications. They add extra steps to your processes and can lead to losing customers if they don’t see relevant content or have a poor experience.
Figuring out how to blend a personalized customer experience with a consistent customer journey is key to providing successful customer service. We know this is a newer topic, so we’re offering our seven tips to help you with your customization and win over loyal customers.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Personalized customer experience
- Why customer experience personalization is so important now
- How to personalize the customer experience in 7 steps
- Final thoughts: 7 steps to create a personalized customer experience
Personalized customer experience
A personalized customer experience is tailored to each individual based on their purchase history and customer interactions with your brand. It starts when they learn about your company and follows them through the buyer’s journey to when they make that sale (and post sales care if relevant).
You create personalized customer experiences with a mixture of human interactions and automated technologies. Even offering multi-channel options acknowledges that not every customer is the same.
You can personalize both the in-person and online experience for your customers. This might mean addressing them by name or remembering a previous in-store purchase. Online, it might look like personalized recommendations based on their previous purchases.
This may be something you’re already incorporating to some degree, especially as you work toward improving your customer satisfaction metrics. But many brands are just starting to discover how powerful this customization really is.
Why customer experience personalization is so important now
After the pandemic, online sales surged. But they began to contract just as quickly.
A 2022 Statista report forecasted ecommerce to decline by 2.5% by the end of that year. While there are a lot of reasons for this change, it’s partially due to the experience customers miss in retail stores.
“Companies that are doing AI (artificial intelligence) right are thinking about the best experience they can possibly provide. They start by asking themselves what AI is good at that humans are not."
Automation and AI play an essential role in a personalized customer experience. Still, they aren’t replacements for interactions between your customers and team. These tools have limits in how they can help.
A good example is chatbots. A 2022 Zendesk report asked both customers and businesses what they thought of the technology. While 66 percent of U.S. business leaders thought chatbots helped customers reach the right channel, 47 percent of U.S. customers reported not getting the right answers to their questions.
Chatbots can be helpful by directing customers to the correct department for their specific questions. They’re usually pretty good at prioritizing customer concerns based on their questions or account type, too.
But there remains a disconnect between what businesses think the technology is capable of and what the reality is for their customers’ current experience.
Instead of focusing completely on how much of your process you can automate, work on using technology to personalize customer experiences in a helpful way.
Steps to creating a personalized customer experience
Now, let’s look at the steps you can follow to tailor your interactions and offer each customer a better experience with your brand.
Step 1: Use automation appropriately
Let’s start with the big one. Automation can be helpful in many ways, but only when you use it effectively.
There are so many great software functions to help track where a user is coming from, personalize product recommendations based on their previous purchases or add pop-up discounts after they’ve browsed a bit.
You don’t want to overdo it, though. A pop-up asking a user to sign up for your email list on every page will annoy people rather than convert them. Run a few A/B tests on the automated processes you incorporate to show which options work best for your customers.
Instead of focusing on how many processes you can automate, try adding personalization to some of your marketing. Birthday emails or reminders about when it’s probably time to replace a product can add the right touch without being overwhelming.
Try to be specific and relevant when writing customer success emails.
Step 2: Get that data & use it
Tying back to our first point, one of the reasons we can automate and provide personalized customer experiences is the sheer amount of customer data we can now collect. As long as you’re following data collection guidelines properly, you want to take advantage of this.
A 2023 Zendesk report found that 59 percent of consumers worldwide say companies should use the personal data they collect to personalize their experience.
You can ask your customers for some of this information, collect it as part of a loyalty program or offer them discounts in exchange for it. However you prefer to collect emails, phone numbers or social media profiles, do it.
But don’t just sit on that information. You want to use your customer data to offer the most personalized customer experience possible.
With this information, you can customize outreach to include names, reference previous purchases, notify them about offers in their area or even reach out on the day of the week they’ve made a purchase before.
Step 3: Ask, & you shall receive
Today’s customers know what they want, and a lot of them are happy to let you know just what that is. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for customer feedback on their experiences, including how personalized they are.
You might try a few short feedback forms at key areas on your website or a survey at the end of a marketing email. You might already have an area of the customer experience in mind that needs attention, and your customers may have the best idea of how to address this shortcoming.
One of the best examples of this is social media. Customers feel more confident messaging with brands on these platforms. And each company has its own personality for answering questions, responding to complaints or generally interacting with followers based on its target audience.
Step 4: Help your customers help themselves
Customers want fast service, and many of them realize helping themselves might be the quickest way to get the answers they need. Zendesk found that 70 percent of global respondents expect companies to offer self-service for their customers.
Some of these self-service options are knowledge bases, FAQs and even customer user guides. With choices like these, customers can look up the information they need in real time. These self-service options can help customers at scale, too.
“I have made Scribes as onboarding guides, as a tool to teach non-technical teams, and (for) external vendors (on) how to test features pre-release — which, in the past, we had to hop on a meeting to discuss — to create training materials, etc.,” says G2 user Claire Mai C.
You can make detailed but easy-to-follow Scribes that answer the questions your users have and can access them anytime.
Step 5: Think outside the box with your customer support
You don’t have to limit your customer service to only one department. Try looking for creative ways to work with your customers on the platforms they prefer with an omnichannel personalization strategy.
Does your customer base prefer to reach out over Twitter or Facebook? You may find having dedicated staff on your brand’s major social media networks is a good choice. You can also use AI to integrate with your CRM, chat software, mobile app and email.
There are so many types of customer service, and you might even be able to get other departments in on some of the available options. Email and social media are easy for all of your team to share with customers they interact with, after all.
Step 6: Update your help desk
We want to give a shoutout to this tool in particular. Help desk software has come a long way in the past few years, thanks to AI. Now we’ve got tools that can identify customer issues, look up orders and direct questions to the right department.
Generally, these software programs work with ticketing systems. They identify customer issues, prioritize problems and reroute customers to the right department for the help they need.
If your team is still manually directing some of these tasks, you might want to look at what has changed recently. Help desks are fantastic for automating many of these tasks, so your employees can get more done and feel less burnout.
Step 7: Make sure your team knows all the technology you’re adding
Maybe after reading this, you’ve decided to add a few new tools to help you personalize customer experiences. But having a bunch of new software won’t do much if your employees don’t know how to use these tools.
You want to get everyone on the same page with step-by-step tutorials on using all of the new technology.
Let’s say your team recently started to use the Google suite of tools after years on Microsoft Office. If you’re in charge of helping everyone adjust to the change, you might answer the same few questions over and over.
Instead of teaching someone how to add a legend to their chart in Google Sheets several times a week, do it once with Scribe. Your team can check the tutorial whenever they need a refresher.
Adding a bunch of tutorials? If you work with Scribe Pages to collect all of them, you can now duplicate a lot of the process! You can even use this tool to create templates and replace only the sections or screenshots that you need to.
Final thoughts: 7 steps to create a personalized customer experience
Creating a personalized customer experience each time may sound overwhelming. But it’s easier than ever before due to the advances in AI and automation.
But technology still works best when paired with human support to optimize your customer engagement. Customer expectations are for companies to offer them a unique experience each time they make a purchase, not treat them as data points in a one-size-fits-all conveyor belt of sales.
You’ll need to take advantage of new platforms, technologies and changes in customer behavior to make the most of your personalization efforts.
Help everyone get a better experience with easy-to-follow tutorials that can teach both customers and employees how to use your products. You can use Scribe to create and share these with everyone, helping you customize your customer experience quicker than ever.