Recently I wrote my annual Forbes article featuring customer service and CX predictions and trends for 2023. No. 4 on the list was Personalization Gets More Personal. The best marketers have realized that personalization is a way to get closer to the customer – or at least make it appear to be so. In our customer experience research (sponsored by Amazon), 74% of customers we surveyed said a personalized experience is important.
Let’s start by looking at what the “experts” refer to as personalization. The simple way to explain it is that customers are segmented into several groups, known as personas, which could be defined by age, gender, geography, interests, and more. We’ll use two Nike shoe customers as an example. One customer buys golf shoes, and the other buys running shoes. The Nike customer who buys golf shoes won’t get promotional messages and information about running shoes, and vice-versa. These two customers represent two different personas, one interested in golf and the other interested in running. Nike knows this and caters to them accordingly.
When a customer receives messages, updates, advertising and promotion targeted to their persona, that’s a form of personalization. Watching what customers buy, their buying patterns, and other data help create that personalized experience.
Today’s personalization strategy is becoming even more personal. The next level is to individualize the experience. That means that even if two customers are interested in golf shoes, Nike might learn that one is a serious golfer, playing two or three times each week, and the other just plays for fun and golfs two or three times a year. Imagine the customer’s reaction when you share information that indicates you truly know who they are, at least as far as golf goes.
In the customer support world, it’s important to know your customers. Providing customer service agents with information about what the customers buy, how often, when they last called for help, and more can allow the agent to individualize the conversation to that specific customer.
This also applies to sales. The salesperson who truly knows and understands the customer will win over someone just trying to sell a product.
Individualization is all about the company knowing something unique about the customer or catering to their specific needs and wants. The regular customer at a restaurant who always wants a table near the window gets it without even asking. The server knows this same customer will want a cup of coffee as soon as possible and brings it without having to be asked.
How can you individualize your customers’ experiences with you? Find ways to create “unique-to-the-customer” experiences, and you’ll find they want to come back for more.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times, bestselling business author. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken