Small business personalisation for big business customer service is where it’s at, writes Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO
Remember the little shop on the corner where the owner knew your name, your family and what you liked to buy? Those mom-and-pop stores have been largely squeezed out of business by mega malls that offer a wide selection of goods for competitive prices under one roof, but it’s far harder to build relationships with the customer service teams that come and go with their shifts. Go beyond the retail experience, however, and it’s possible for big business to adopt that corner shop personalisation in customer service.
Customer Experience 101
At the local hardware store or town butcher, you’d be seen looking through the window, you’d walk in, look around at a few products, get help from the owner or assistants and make your purchase. If they didn’t have what you wanted, they’d commit to making sure you could get it. They’d have your phone number, and you’d get a call to ask you to collect it – perhaps they’d even deliver it by bicycle to your house: seamless service across multiple touchpoints.
In Customer Experience (CX), every single touchpoint your customer has within an interaction is an opportunity. While they are browsing your online store, for example, you can learn more about their interests and preferences, and through regular feedback you can gain a better understanding of their contact choices (chat, email, voice or online) as well as the best times to contact them via your contact centre or service department. It’s not about how fast you can get them in and out of an interaction, but the quality of the interaction, and whether the query was resolved efficiently at the first point of contact.
Your small neighbourhood butcher might have known your family for years, sometimes generations. They had the benefit of time in order to learn about you over repeat interactions, getting to know you what you liked to buy (and what you didn’t) as well as information that may not have been relevant to your purchase such as your birthday, or an event that happened in your life.
In CX, you don’t always have those long-term opportunities to get to know customers; indeed, you may have multiple contact centre agents or customer service representatives, so your customer may never speak to the same person twice, but the point is to give your customer the feeling that no matter whom they are dealing with, you know enough about them to help them according to what they want and need. That’s the joy of the insights provided by data analytics – when evaluated and used according to the right metrics, they can help you to gain a fleshed-out idea of your customer, providing context to information and thus a chance to personalise your service. You can understand what they prefer to purchase or what they need in terms of customer service, and even use details they’ve given to you such to reach out to them.
Spend time getting your metrics right to gain insights via your data, and you’ll get much closer to replicating that corner shop personalisation.
“The point is to give your customer the feeling that no matter whom they are dealing with, you know enough about them to help them according to what they want and need.” – Wynand Smit, INOVO
Dominating in a competitive marketplace
Malls were big enough to supplant the smaller shops, but in shifting to malls, customers lost the personalised transactions they’d been used to – something that online stores though, armed with behavioural and transactional data, are now closer to achieving.
In the same way, if your company isn’t using personalisation to enhance CX, your customers now have the luxury of choice and may take their business elsewhere. A study in Harvard Business Review stated that, in transaction-based business, customers who had the best experiences spent 140% more than customers who had the worst experiences. That stands to reason – why should they purchase in an environment where they are not prioritised? But the same is true of all aspects of customer service – why should they interact with a company that sees them just as a number?
The interaction element to any transaction is a key that can unlock the success story. You must listen to your customers’ needs, provide an opportunity for them to give feedback and, where possible, act on that feedback. Big data is not an excuse to say you know more about them than they do, it’s rather an opportunity for a guided experience that lets your customer feel like they are taking the lead.
“A study in Harvard Business Review stated that, in transaction-based business, customers who had the best experiences spent 140% more than customers who had the worst experiences.” – Wynand Smit, INOVO
The human face of customer service
Service delivery and personalisation can give you longevity in your customer relationships. By getting to know your customer and reflecting that in your service and offering, it can only reduce the likelihood of defection and contribute towards building long-term loyalty.
Cheers, the American sitcom that gained fame in the early 1980’s, was famously the place “where everybody knows your name”. Understandably, individuals do not simply want to be another faceless customer and it’s up to your business to bring back the feel-good factor of “corner shop personalisation” to the customer experience.