The nimble nature of small businesses most often lends them certain advantages over larger ones, due to their size and flexibility. One such advantage is the capability to offer customers a unique and personalized experience. Even with automated systems and multiple touch points, a small business is less likely to be saturated with a high volume of customers and/or corporate bureaucracies that sometimes – not always – get in the way of quality over quantity in serving their customers.
Even so, a personalized experience doesn’t just mean being nice. It requires digging a little deeper, getting to know your customers, and providing an experience that entices him or her to want to come back. It’s also about being savvy enough to know when to engage or when to take a step back.
Let’s first go over the look and feel must-haves of a personalized experience, then discuss why they are so important.
How to personalize the experience
Personalizing the experience doesn’t necessarily have to be a complicated or elaborate thing. Paying attention to the details is the trick, and in fact, even the teensiest bit of personalization can go a long way. Let’s dig into some of these, and discuss how you can utilize the details to better personalize.
1. Get to know them
Getting to know the basics about a customer is often the first step to packing a big punch. Whether you learn the customer’s name, remember a simple story about their visit with you, or note something about their sale, you’re heading in the right direction. These little specifics can help you build a relationship. And while you don’t have to remember every minor thing about your customers (that could make them feel like they’re being stalked), knowing some information is always more useful than knowing none. Because the more you know, the more you can use to build trust and confidence in the customer.
Thanks to the digital age, most web-based businesses have historical customer data available to them. With the use of event-based tracking and performance analytics, you can learn and make use of a good amount of information. And you can use what you find out to provide that personalized experience.
2. Be sure to send personalized emails
Think of the last time you ordered something online or signed up for a service. The follow-up correspondence emails probably included your name and maybe what you most recently ordered. While these types of emails are frequently set up to be an automated response, the customer recognizes their name and the fact that you remembered what they purchased. You’d be surprised, but these are the kinds of details – often readily accessible to today’s businesses – that can make a customer feel special and help you earn their loyalty for your brand.
So, you can send emails based on specific user actions. Or, even lack of action. Or, you can engage by sending similar content, like an educational webinar or white paper. As mentioned above, one of the easiest and most obvious ways to personalize an email is to use the customer’s name. But don’t stop there. There are a ton of other ways to take your email personalization up a notch.
3. Make sure you’re listening to the client’s needs (and letting them know it)
Replying to an online review is one way to show your customers that you are listening to them. And perhaps most importantly, that you care about what they’re saying. Listening and responding to what your customers say is not only courteous, but it’s good for your online reputation.
By using review sites in conjunction with social media, you can find out what your customers need, and then use that knowledge to your benefit to drive your business.
Here are some other ways to reach out to your customers and learn more about what your customers want:
- NPS Surveys
- Social Media Polls
- Phone Calls
- Receipt Surveys
- Ask Upon Checkout
4. Don’t forget to show some appreciation for their time and feedback
When customers do offer feedback, they’re showing you what works or doesn’t work. Think of this as a weapon they’re handing you, thereby enabling you to stay ahead of the game. So, let them know you value it by simply answering their message, or saying thanks, or sending them a coupon for their time. A little bit of appreciation can go a long way!
5. Reward your “super” customers
Recognizing your most loyal customers will work to your advantage. Showing appreciation for customer feedback, a simple thank you exchanged, or a discount or gift card could be looked upon as a wonderful gesture from your side by your customer. You can also do a quick shout-out on social media to let them know you appreciate their business. Sending birthday cards is another great way to show your customers that you care about them!
Why you should personalize the customer experience
Now that we’ve gone over the how, it’s important to understand the why. And there are a couple to really consider. One of the most important ones being customer retention. Did you know that companies who focus on the customer experience generate about 60% higher profits than competitors? So even if you have a ton of competitors, a positive experience will keep them coming back to you exclusively!.
Let’s dig into this a bit more:
1. Your brand loyalty and reputation are bound to improve
Personalization is a huge factor in evaluating customer service. At the end of the day, especially in saturated markets, a more personalized experience can help you set yourself apart from your competition. A study by McKinsey found that 70% of a buyer’s experience is based on how they feel they are treated. So, make sure to provide an over-the-top experience because your online reviews will likely reflect that as well.
2. You’ll get referrals down the road
Happy customers equate to customer loyalty. With customer loyalty comes brand advocacy and customers willing to share their positive experience with others. It’s good to know that people don’t take recommendations lightly either. In fact, 92% of consumers trust a peer recommendation more than traditional advertising. Meaning, your personalized experience can lead you to a stellar referral program to help build your business.
However, knowing how to ask for referrals is an important factor in getting people to respond to the request. Be sure to ask at the appropriate times and don’t be afraid to personalize the way you express your interest!
“Make sure you’re providing a personalized experience!”
Great customer service is a staple in retaining customers. And a personalized experience is the icing on the cake. What are you doing to personalize your customer’s experience?