4 Ways to Provide Personalized Customer Service

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The lockdowns and aftermath of the 2020 global pandemic spiked growth in e-commerce sales as brick-and-mortar stores and restaurants closed their doors. Meetings and classrooms shifted to Zoom almost overnight.

The pandemic pushed late adopters into new ways of shopping and interacting. Today even as people are returning to stores, the share of purchasing due to eCommerce continues to increase steadily. eMarketer estimates that by 2024 almost 20% of total retail sales will be via eCommerce, and that estimate does not include travel and event ticketing or restaurant food delivery.

The challenge for brands is ensuring that customer relationship management doesn’t suffer as online spending becomes the norm. Customers still want personalized service even if they aren’t coming into the store. eCommerce companies should consider that, as important as the website experience is, it is rarely individualized for the visitor.

What consumers really want is personalization in the customer service experience. In fact, 79% say personalized service is more important than personalized marketing.

Customers expect brands to understand their individual journey with the brand. They don’t want to be treated like a number and have to explain their context to each new person in the chain.

As technology helps eCommerce scale sales, it also provides solutions for personalized customer service as the customer base grows into thousands or even millions. Tools like Kayako’s Single View give service reps an overview of the individual customer service journey, an important element for delivering personalized customer service.

Let’s look at what personalized customer service is and why it matters.

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What Is Personalized Customer Service?

Picture your customer visiting their state’s government agency office to complete a routine task. They check in at a kiosk, the clerk or machine gives them a number, and they take a seat in the rickety plastic chairs with everyone else, waiting for their number to be called.

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If this is a second visit, and the clerk from your first visit didn’t input all their information at that time, they have to repeat their story. Sometimes they may even have to reschedule.

As the example above shows, in-person interactions don’t guarantee positive customer engagement via a personalized experience.

We see the same dynamic when a customer calls a help desk line and has to give their information and explain their problem to different service reps on the same call.

It doesn’t make the customer feel very special, does it?

All humans share a universal desire for others to recognize their uniqueness. Personalization in the help desk context refers to the degree to which people feel valued as an individual. American Express refers to this as humanizing interactions.

Beyond just creating more meaningful interactions, why should brands worry about a personalized customer experience?

Why Is It Important to Deliver Personalized Customer Service?

When customers believe a company understands them on an individual level, companies benefit in several ways directly associated with long-term profitability. Different personalized customer service statistics point to the same conclusion. Personalization matters for customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty:

  • 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that provides a tailored experience.
  • 66% of consumers expect brands to understand their individual needs. (Salesforce)
  • 71% of customers are frustrated by impersonal shopping experiences. (Segment)
  • Personalization can reduce return rates. According to one study, when the buying experience is personalized, only 5% of impulse purchases were returned.
  • Personalization also seems to hedge against buyers’ remorse returns, as 85 percent of impulse buyers were happy with what they bought during a personalized interaction.
  • 70% of consumers say that how well a company understands their individual needs impacts loyalty.

Bottom line, personalized customer service is important because it increases customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Increased loyalty results in higher customer retention, reducing expensive churn and increasing customer lifetime value (CLV).

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The absence of an organized system with accessible client details undermines your customer service reps. In Kayako’s case study, How MercadoLead Provides Personalized Support To Every Customer, you can see the benefits of personalization in action for MercadoLead, a large customer with a diverse multilingual customer base.

How To Provide Personalized Customer Service?

Now that we’ve seen personalization is important, what are some best practices for personalized customer service?

Start with the basics –  use a customer’s name when greeting them. Establish rapport by asking how their day is going.

Beyond that, personalization is more than verbal interactions. Context and experience matter. Suppose your customer service representatives understand the context of the customers’ situation by viewing their journey. In that case, they can deliver an experience that signals to the customer that the company understands their individual situation.

Another type of personalization is being at the right place at the right time, from your customers’ points of view.

Answer Questions Wherever Your Customers Are

Some customers don’t want to call customer services or even use chat. They would rather interact with a company via social channels familiar to them.

Companies that integrate the customer service function with popular social channels can deliver frictionless, personalized experiences based on individual customer behavior. Kayako’s Social Customer Service CRM Integration helps companies connect with customers where they are instead of forcing customers to come to a specific website or chatbot.

Visualize the Entire Customer Journey in One Place

American Express suggests that collecting and sharing customer data within your organization leads to better customer experiences. While that may sound ominous in today’s privacy-sensitive landscape, it’s not.

They refer to data related to your customer’s journey with your company. What contact have they made in the past via what channels? What is their purchase and service history?

To personalize customer service, you first have to understand what your customer’s experience has been. To deliver solutions quickly, customer service reps need a complete view of the customer journey. Kayako’s Single View creates this overview and enables personalized interactions with your customers.

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Make It Easy for Customers to Help Themselves With a Help Center

People like to try to solve their customer service problems without contacting an agent. In fact,  81% of all customers try to deal with their problems themselves before reaching out to a service agent.

Help centers are important to customer success. They are a win-win that can help reduce customer attrition. Agents don’t have to deal with as many routine calls, leading to higher employee satisfaction and cost savings for companies.

Knowledge bases combine learning from inside and outside the organization. Over time the knowledge base can become a robust resource for customers and employees.

Monitor Customer Satisfaction

While many studies show that personalization leads to more customer satisfaction, each company will want to create its own evidence for that. One way to do that is to begin to measure customer satisfaction via the customer effort score (CES).

The customer effort score metric shows how much effort the customer thinks they had to put in to resolve their problem. It’s a survey question, “How easy was it for you to get your problem solved?” (scale of 1 to 5).

Knowing your CES allows you to see what needs to be done to improve how your support team interacts with your customers. CES is a strong predictor of future customer loyalty – those with high scores are more likely to become return customers.

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