Contributors: Bill Dry, Gopal Kuppuswamy
Why is Personalization Important?
Congratulations on your decision to personalize the service and support interactions you have with your customers. Customers expect it, and there are measurable benefits. Also, many studies support your decision to personalize including these:
Sailthru’s 2022 Retail Personalization Index reports that 71% of customers believe personalization matters.
McKinsey reports that personalization delivers a positive customer experience generally yielding 20% higher customer satisfaction rates.
Twilio’s 2023 State of Customer Engagement Report explains that companies that invest in digital customer engagement increase revenue by 90%.
Personalized engagement requires delivering the right message to your customers at the right time on the channel they prefer. In this blog post, we discuss how to identify communication channels and technologies to deliver the right message at the right time.
Consider These 3 Points When Switching to Personalized Service
1. How do I discover the ways customers and prospects interact with my business?
Start by asking yourself this fundamental question and work with key leaders and front-line staff in your organization to identify all the ways your customers interact with your business today. Begin by answering these questions:
- How many channels do you offer today in each of the geographic regions you serve?
- Are those channels available equally throughout the year?
- Which channels do you use for outbound contact and which ones for inbound contact?
- Are your customers frequently making direct contact with your employees for their shopping, ordering, and support needs? If so, which channels do they use to make direct contact?
- Using personal information your customers authorize you to collect, can you assess based on spending patterns and expressed needs which channels receive the most customer traffic by category?
Your existing contact center’s reporting tools provide valuable insights into current interactions with your customers. Key report fields such as maximum calls queued per skill group (queue), longest call queued before answer, and calls abandoned while in queue indicate the customer demand for a particular channel such as inbound voice. An upward trending or consistent above-average rate of calls abandoned in queue not only signal the need for more agents and potentially faster handling times but also indicate an opportunity to service customers on alternate channels or via scheduled callbacks.
That same contact center software typically provides similar customer activity statistics for alternative channels such as email. Locate and trend activity statistics for the alternate channels you currently offer such as the number of emails handled per queue per day, the average number of emails exchanged per issue, and the number of emails sent per day by your agents.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems often track and report your customer interactions as well. Check your CRM’s activity reports for rollup summaries of your customer calls, emails, and messages over time. These reports may also show you segmentation by customer activity, frequency, and issue providing deeper insight regarding how, when, and why your customers engage.
Customer Interaction Software
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If your current tools and historical data do not display a complete picture of how and when you communicate with your customers and prospects, consider deploying customer interaction tracking software. Customer interaction tracking software enables you to track not only existing customer activities but also activity from potential customers who show interest in your brand based on activity. This software can track activities such as completing a web form, opting to receive your email newsletter, and registering for one of your events among others. You will find customer interaction tracking software as a stand-alone service or embedded as a feature in some CRM systems. If you have a CRM, check to see if it offers customer interaction tracking. Regardless, select the customer interaction tracking software that covers your end-to-end customer journeys across all the customer communication channels and digital touchpoints you offer.
With so many sources of customer and prospect activity and interaction, it is easy to get overwhelmed trying to account for all the data sources, de-duplicate customer activities across those sources, and identify clear customer communication trends. Consider deploying a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to collect and unify customer data from all your data sources. CDPs assess customer data from all your sources and enable you to build unified customer profiles that consolidate and organize all customer and prospect activities and interactions. Many CDPs enable you to segment your customers into audiences based on their activity or interaction patterns and then analyze the interaction patterns between your company and every identified audience.
2. How do customers want to interact with my business?
The data you collect about customer interactions on the channels you currently offer may not identify all the ways your customers prefer to engage your company. Identify and consider alternate, popular communication channels used in complementary industries and in broader society today. Customers want to interact through their preferred contact channels for quicker resolution. Providing omnichannel support to customers is the key, so customers can reach your company using their preferred communication channel whether that’s chat, voice, or even social media channels such as Instagram direct messaging or Twitter.
Zendesk’s latest messaging trends report supports the need to embrace alternate communication channels. The report explains that 33% of customers under 40 years old choose social messaging as their preferred support channel. Zendesk also notes that customers engaging with businesses using social messaging increased by 110% from 2019 to 2020. This customer preference fuels a sharp rise in the popularity of messaging as a channel for business communications with end users.
Within social messaging, geographic preferences drive usage trends. Zendesk’s analysis shows WhatsApp usage up 190% in EMEA in 2020 while Facebook Messenger and Twitter DMs with businesses increased by 172% in North America during 2020. Embrace the idea of deploying different communication channel mixes in different countries and geographies.
Better Customer Experience
Providing customer services over these alternate channels delivers a better customer experience and reduces customer churn as well. Salesforce’s State of the Connected Consumer, 5th Edition surveyed over 13,000 consumers representing 29 countries and reports the average consumer interacts with businesses using nine different communication channels. Given this preference for channel variety, 78% of consumers indicate they use multiple channels to complete digital transactions. Your customer service Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platform must deliver seamless channel switching. For example, a customer might start with a Tweet to your customer service team but may need a video call to resolve the issue completely. Contact center agents must be well-prepared and trained to support cross-channel interactions.
3. How do I deliver the right information to my customers?
Customers expect effortless experiences when they interact with your business. Reduce their effort by providing them with contextually relevant information that is timely, accurate, and simplifies their next step in your customer journey. For example, customers are frequently choosing new fulfillment options such as Buy Online and Pick-up In Store (BOPIS) or opting for curbside pickup. Besides receiving ready-for-pickup status and proactive notifications, customers need specific information such as how to find the designated pick-up parking spots at your location or the location of the in-store fulfillment desk inside the store location they designated during their online purchase. Hopefully, your customer journey mapping includes contextual delivery of personalized content such as at-store and in-store merchandise pickup locations.
If you suspect that your current customer journeys often do not complete as planned unless your customers get help from one of your employees, consider implementing omnichannel analytics using an AI-powered enterprise search tool such as Coveo or a CDP such as Twilio Segment . These tools mine and report your customer interactions across all your digital touch points including web, mobile, and SMS interactions. Use these newly uncovered customer search patterns and activity trails to verify the usage and relevance of your existing digital content and identify gaps where customers could not find information on your apps and sites so they opted to contact your customer care team instead.
Consider your customers’ self-service preferences and needs as well. In many situations, your customer may accept and even prefer to interact with your company using a self-service tool such as a chatbot or knowledge base instead of speaking with your agents. Enable this experience using chatbots that offer conversational AI capabilities for natural language interactions and place self-service tools in prominent locations on your mobile apps and websites.
Customers must feel they are getting adequate attention and reasonable answers. Customers want product and service specifics presented within the context of the question they asked or the search phrase they entered. Displaying too much information makes the relevant details hard to find. A knowledge base is a great way to provide existing customers with the information they need exactly when they need it.
Finally, don’t make your customers follow up. Customers want timely notifications regarding critical events delivered on their preferred communication channels. Customer-centric companies are more profitable than others. Identify the optimal customer journey then build an alerts and notifications strategy to enhance that journey.
In this post, we discussed three key points you should consider as you shift to more personalized customer service and support. These points include:
- assessing when and how you interact with your customers using live and self-service methods
- deciding which communication channels they prefer beyond the channels you offer today
- determining how will you deliver accurate, timely, and contextually relevant information to your customers
Once you select the correct communication channels and tools to deliver meaningful content, identify the custom metrics and data visualizations and assemble a comprehensive migration plan to put your new solution for personalized customer service and support into production. An upcoming post will discuss points to consider when you build, operate, and scale a personalized customer service and support solution.
If you are struggling to find a solution that fits your unique and complex organizational structure and need guidance on personalizing your customer engagement, we can help. At Perficient, we are an APN Advanced Consulting Partner for Amazon Connect and a Gold Partner for Twilio Flex which gives us a unique set of skills to accelerate your cloud, agent, and customer experience.
Perficient takes pride in personalizing your customers’ journeys. We help enterprise clients transform and modernize their customer engagement strategies using platforms like Amazon Connect, Service Cloud Voice, and Twilio. For more information on how Perficient can help you get the most out of your contact center needs, please contact us here.