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The Personalized Customer Experience

Think about your positive past customer service experiences and what made them stand out - queuing for a coffee and the barista remembering your order, or remembering your name, the store that called you to tell you your favorite product has been restocked, the retailer who remembers your favorite colour, or the one who sends you a little thank you postcard after your purchase. Chances are, your most memorable experiences were when you received distinct, personal service. Research shows unique experiences and responsive, personalized service across channels helps drive loyalty. Delighting your customers, helping them connect with your brand, and delivering excellent service with a personal touch, is crucial to building strong customer relationships.

Personalized service: In-store

Great retailers are able to build trust so their customers value their opinions and assistance. You want your staff to be skilled at knowing your customers, not just serving them. Actively listening, using your customers' namea when possible, and greeting customers when the they arrive helps make your store welcoming. You want to build ongoing relationships with your customers and make your business a place where they’re guaranteed good, consistent service and a warm shopping environment. Nordstrom are renowned for their top notch customer service practices. Their staff are encouraged to assist customers one-on-one, answer phone calls promptly, walk around the counter to hand customers their bags, and to accompany customers rather than pointing directions. And with Nordstrom regularly topping the American Customer Satisfaction Index, they’re clearly onto something.

Personalized service: Online

Using social media can be a great way to encourage personal online interactions, by offering your customers the chance to participate in competitions, and creating shareable, inspiring content, you can build an awesome community for customers to feel connected to your brand. Cat Socrates is a Singapore based shop that stocks beautifully designed creations, they also have created a social media presence and accompanying newsletter that is every bit as delightful as their shop! Although they have no online shop, their online presence delights customers and offers a true representation and experience of their brand. They are also quick to respond to any online questions, and do so personally and with care.

Transactional emails after products have been purchased is also a great way to thank your shoppers for their loyal custom, and according to an ExactTarget report, typical transactional emails are opened 70-80% of the time, and sales conversion rates can increase up to 25% when these messages are personalized. Make the most of every interaction with your customers and give them plenty of reasons to feel good about shopping with your brand.


Using your customer data

There are many ways your customer data can help you get more personal with your customers. With 75% of customers liking it when brands personalize messages and offers, using your customer data can be a great way to target shoppers with rewards and discounts that are most relevant and appealing to them. Implementing a loyalty program is a good way of rewarding your most loyal customers in store, while also reaching out to them online.

Sephora is a international beauty store with an impressive online presence that celebrates all things makeup. They are known for their “Beauty Insider” loyalty program which operates at a number of levels: Beauty Insider, Very Important Beauty Insider (VIB), and VIB Rouge. At each of these levels there are increased benefits and incentives for higher spending, including “VIB only products” and free shipping. Sephora also uses customer data to recommend products for their customers, and because of their online customization, customers receive a personalized experience which provides them with relevant product offerings and rewards. Start by gathering your customer data via questionnaires, newsletter signups, or competitions, then consider how you want to best use your information to create relevant rewards, offers, or sales.


Responding in real time

Your customers expect real time interactions when shopping and browsing digital channels. Statistics from The Social Habit show that of those who have attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes, while 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. Whether your customers are asking questions via email, or Tweeting inquiries about new products, responding to them in real time shows that your business is personal, customer orientated and you care about their interests. Being quick to handle any customer complaints that might arise also provides you with an opportunity to improve and strengthen customer relationships quickly.

Quick tips
  • Good customer service is about meeting needs and exceeding expectations. Look for opportunities where you can add unique touches; patterned wrapping paper, little thank-you notes in posted goods, unique loyalty rewards, and thank-you emails.
  • Gartner found that failure to respond via social channels can lead to a 15% increase in the churn rate. Make sure your staff are confident answering digital enquiries and are checking your social media sites and emails throughout the day.
  • A loyalty program can be an excellent platform for creating specific, tailored rewards to suit your customers and support digital relationships.