To compete in the modern business landscape, you need to learn how to create personalized customer experiences. While it may seem difficult — impossible even — it can be done. In this post we’ll outline the process you need to get started on creating great and personalized customer experiences:
- Create Personas
- Integrate Your Marketing Communications
- Getting in on Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- A/B Testing
- Mastering Customer Support
If you can do these things, you'll be able to better serve your customers, ensure they stay loyal to your brand, and boost revenue for your company.
Looking to differentiate your company from the competition?
While certainly easier said than done, it is possible, once you learn how to create personalized experiences for your customers.
The truth is, modern consumers now demand personalization. And if they don't feel directly catered to by your business, they'll likely look to support a competitor that will.
There’s no reason this needs to happen to your brand, so keep reading to learn why personalization is so important, how to create these kinds of experiences for each of your customers, and a few tools you can use to help.
1. Create Personas
Think about it: you can't create personalized customer experiences if you don't know who your customers are. So step one is to get to know your customers. Gaining insight on potential users helps you create buyer personas to target with your CX efforts.
Personas are semi-fictional characters that represent a specific segment of your target audience.
Digging into your website, email marketing analytics can show a fair amount of general demographic information. You'll also want to try to pinpoint more ambiguous details like goals and struggles. This is a great starting point in the persona-creating process.
You can also look at the demographics of competitors within your industry, data on product usage, social media engagement, and keyword research, just to name a few.
Segmenting your audience can also be considered part of the persona-creating process. There are four main types: demographic segmentation, psychographic segmentation, behavioral segmentation, and geographic segmentation. However, to offer truly personalized experiences to your customers, you need to go beyond the standard buyer personas. You also need to discover and catalog individual customer information.
This includes purchase history, favorite engagement channels (email, social media, phone), the pages they've viewed on your website, and even notes from previous conversations they've had with your customer success team.
Sounds like a lot, right?
Don't worry, there are plenty of software tools that will help you acquire this information. We'll talk about a few of them in his article. You can also send out polls and surveys to get first-hand knowledge of customer needs and preferences.
Hubspot is a tool that allows its users to personalize almost every aspect of their business.
It can be used to trigger behavioral pop-ups on your website to boost lead generation, and even strengthen your web copy based on the way your visitors interact with your website. The software also features a "Conversations Inbox'' that connects team email, live chat, Facebook Messenger, and more. This ensures every customer conversation is centralized and searchable so nothing is overlooked.
All in all, HubSpot is an easy-to-use and powerful tool that will allow you to create more personalized experiences for your customers.
2. Integrate Your Marketing Communications
To create amazing customer experiences, you need to meet your audience on their preferred channel. Sometimes called cross-channel marketing, integrated marketing, or even omnichannel, it all boils down to the same premise: targeting your customers on the appropriate platform with the message tailored to that specific platform.
Most companies are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social platforms. Email marketing has been incredibly successful for decades. Website chatbots have grown in popularity. And, of course, most organizations can still be reached by phone.
The problem? Most companies use these channels in isolation from each other, which leads to subpar customer experiences and inefficient support processes. Your message needs to be consistent across each channel, but the way it's presented should vary in a way that makes sense given the context of the platform.
Modern consumers also expect to receive the same quality on every channel they interact with your company on. An amazing email exchange won't matter as much if a Facebook Messenger note goes unanswered, for example. But it goes even farther than this. Your customers also expect to, say, email your company about an issue they're experiencing, then call you about it later that day without having to repeat the problem to a different support representative.
The only way to accomplish this is to adopt a truly integrated approach that stores real-time customer information in an easily-accessible central location. That way your whole support team is always on the same page and can serve your customers appropriately.
Don't worry, your efforts in this regard will be worth it. Businesses that adopt true omnichannel approaches experience 91% greater customer retention.
3. Getting in on Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Creating personalized customer experiences is a big task. In fact, it's so big, we don't blame you if you're starting to feel overwhelmed. Thankfully, there's a solution: artificial intelligence.
Artificial Intelligence is the capacity of a computer to perform operations comparable to learning and decision-making in humans. AI helps machines learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and perform human-like tasks in a way that computers haven’t historically been able to do.
And while AI is no longer a particularly new concept, many businesses in the small-to-midsize sector are just beginning to experience the benefits that can come with automation. By letting the robots do most of the manual and analytical work, you can focus more on being creative, developing relationships with customers, and strategy.
Here are a few ideas to help you implement AI into your customer experience workflows:
- Purchase Transactions: At a very basic level, AI can be used to automate purchase transactions. For example, when someone buys a product from your website, technology can be used to automatically send the order to the appropriate shipping department and shoot a thank you message to the customer. Streamlining this entire process makes so much sense for most businesses and their customers, and has been shown to deliver real bottom-line impact.
- Website Chatbots: While chatbots can't necessarily handle complex customer questions (yet!), they can be used to engage website visitors, link them to content on your site, and even put them in contact with a representative from the correct department. Some chatbots can do similar things on social media platforms as well. “Outsourcing” these menial day-to-day interactions will give your team more autonomy to do deep work. Some favorite chatbots offerings with affordable options are Drift, MobileMonkey, and Zendesk.
- Automated Email Sequences: Email sequences can be automated to an impressive degree. For instance, you can trigger specific messages to send based on customer actions, locations, or time between engagements. Let's say a customer visits your website to look at a new product. This action can trigger an email that offers them a 15% discount if they purchase the product within the next 24 hours. It is this sort of automation that can immediately show value in your business consistently providing a great customer experience to your users. Tools like Mailchimp, Groove, and Drip can be well worth your investment.
Kustomer is also a great example of a platform built on AI and automation. With this software, you'll be able to deploy intelligent chatbots on your website, automatically route customers to specific support agents based on their needs, and quickly view a timeline of every interaction your company has had with each of its individual customers.
You'll also be able to easily engage your audience on every channel including voice, text, email, and social media inquiries. That way nothing slips through the cracks.
4. A/B Testing
The final step is to analyze and improve your personalization efforts, A.K.A. A/B testing. In case you’re unfamiliar, A/B testing is a user experience research method consisting of a two-variant randomized experiment. It can serve as an efficient way to compare two versions of one thing and determine which version is more effective. To some of you, this concept may seem elementary, but many businesses overlook just how valuable it can be when forming a quality customer experience.
When getting started, it’s important you know exactly what you're trying to accomplish in the test. In other words, you need specific and measurable goals. That way you know what personalization metrics to track.
Maybe you hope to increase company revenue via personalized customer experiences. You'd want to track sales, of course, but you might also decide to monitor more specific figures like the number of repeat purchases or your average order size.
Take some time to identify why you want to create more personalized customer experiences. Then choose a few metrics that correlate with this goal and track them over time.
5. Mastering Customer Support
Customer support isn’t always the sexiest part of running a business. Many even treat it like an afterthought, and this is a serious missed opportunity when it comes to creating a personalized and valuable customer experience.
Because it is so often done poorly, it may only take a bit of effort and resources to make your customer support experience really stand out.
Going above and beyond in customer support may be as simple as taking the time to do a small bit of discovery about the customer in question to ensure you’re providing the best solution possible. Humanizing the interaction as meeting the customer where they are is crucial as well. It’s important to consider that if a customer has taken time out of their day to reach out to you for support help, it was probably their last resort, so you need to look at these interactions as not just tickets so check off, but as opportunities to convert a potentially frustrated user into an advocate for your brand.
As was mentioned earlier, a fair amount of this process can probably be automated through some of the tools listed above, but there are times that will require a more personal touch.
When conversing with newer customers or those who might not be familiar with your product, I’ve found tools like CloudApp to be remarkably helpful. Visuals tend to be so much more beneficial to explaining a process than text or a phone call.
CloudApp is a visual communication tool that includes industry-leading screen recording, GIF creation, and screenshot annotation features. It's used by millions of people in a variety of industries, but customer support is an especially great use of the product. Imagine your support team having customized GIFs on deck to actually show your customer exactly how to complete a specific workflow inside your software, instead of sending them a link to a set of written directions on your site.
Because CloudApp allows users to record and/or capture their screens, then edit them with arrows, text boxes, and emojis, companies can easily engage their customers.
The best part is, CloudApp can be used for free. So consider signing up today to experience the power of the platform for yourself.
As we have discussed, personalization is the future of customer experience and likely, business itself.
Customers more than ever expect the brands they interact with to offer highly customized offerings and experiences, and they will find it one way or another. So the sooner your company hops on the bandwagon in taking the necessary steps to accomplish this, the better.
While this is in no way an entirely comprehensive list, hopefully after reading this article you feel better prepared (and perhaps even inspired) to tackle personalizing your users’ customer experience.