Our economy has become one of immediate fulfillment and infinite possibilities. The constant connectedness of producers and consumers has vastly changed the buying process in this way. Just think of Uber, the ride company that allows you to connect quickly with an affordable ride just with a few clicks on your iPhone. Or Amazon’s drone delivery system, bringing orders directly from your online shopping cart to your front porch. Because products and services have become so easily accessible, companies must fight to gain a memorable brand within their markets in a new way. Brands are competing with one another to create memorable customer experiences that will keep their customers coming back, despite the ease of going elsewhere. Whether you’re a local pie shop or a nationwide technology company, these 5 tips can help you create personalized customer experiences:
- Listen and remember. Listening is the number one rule for all marketing, outreach, and sales tactics. You cannot communicate effectively with any group of consumers (or anyone at all, for that matter) without first listening to their needs and wants. Once you master the art of listening, you can speak much more successfully. In order to create a unique experience for each customer, try to listen to and remember his or her specific needs. For a small company, this may mean remembering that John from the neighborhood across the street walks over for a cup of tomato soup every Wednesday. Saying hi to John and offering him a sample of your gourmet grilled cheese to go with his soup on a rainy day will make him feel seen and important. Another way to do this, potentially in a larger business setting, would be to communicate with your customers based on their buying habits. Send a personalized “thank you” email to the first-time buyer of your online product and offer him/her a discount on a similar product or experience. Reward long-time customers with better personalized deals! Or, explore an even more personalized experience and send your clients sweet treats for their birthdays! Experiment with new ways of listening to your customers and making them feel heard.
- Relate with them. Consumers feel connected to brands and companies with which they can relate. If the nature of your business allows you to come face-to-face with your customers, this tip will be easier to accomplish. Relating with your customers and leveling with them is basically the opposite of being a “pushy” sales person. Instead of going right to the question, “how can I help you?”, try starting with something a bit more personalized. Find something you and your customer have in common, whether or not that commonality is related to your product, and build on that similarity. Your customers are much more likely to trust your advice and support if you give them a reason to relate to you. This opens up the opportunity for more personal, memorable experiences!
- ARASAP (Always Respond As Soon As Possible). Do you allow your customers to ask questions and express concerns? Whether your sales exist mostly online or entirely in-store, you have to be there to guide your customers (and potential customers) through their experiences with your product or service. From their initial interest in your company, to their purchasing decision, and even throughout their experience using your product or service, be there to quickly answer questions and provide solutions. If a customer sends in an email to ask a question or even to submit a complaint, respond. Set up a response protocol to ensure your customer service representatives get back to every customer email (or Tweet, or Facebook message) within a short, set amount of time. Customers will be pleasantly surprised if they get an immediate, helpful response! Make sure to personalize the responses to specifically address each customer’s concerns as opposed to having an automated message. Twitter is a great customer service tool for this quick, constant connectedness. It has become of the best social media for direct brand-to-consumer communication.
- Offer a VIP experience. The reason why some brands are so successful on platforms such as Snapchat and Facebook Live is because they have shown their customers an avenue “behind the scenes.” A first-look or behind-the-scenes approach is one way to make your customers feel like VIPs. Everyone wants to feel like they are someone special or have some sort of insider knowledge. With new releases or exciting company milestones, give your loyal customers an in-depth first look. Even without an actual membership program, find ways to make every customer feel like a VIP member because, really, aren’t they all very important? What if you treated each interaction with each customer as if it was the most important business opportunity of the year? Use the same sense of urgency and accommodation with the small-time customers as you do with your high-end buyers. You can develop long-lasting relationships with everyone! Some organizations have taken VIP membership to a new level, offering first-level clients an experience all potential customers can admire. For example, check out these outstanding examples of VIP programs.
- Feature your customers in your stories. Use testimonials, reviews, and featured stories to put your customers in the spotlight and let them do the talking. Featuring actual customers in your advertisements will not only be good for those featured few, but will also make potential new customers and shoppers more able to imagine themselves enjoying positive experiences with your company. Of course, this isn’t news to any of you- companies have been using word-of-mouth marketing methods almost forever. Now, however, with the connectedness of our economy and the extremely specific targeting capabilities on social media, this tactic is increasingly useful. Create a personalized customer experience by showing your customers examples of other individuals like them who have happily enjoyed your service.
We hope these tips are helpful and inspiring for your goals in customer service and user experience! Please share some of your company methods of creating unique experiences for your customers AND share some of the best experiences you have had as a customer as well!