People today not only want the personal touch from customer service representatives—they expect it. Fortunately for entrepreneurs, personalized customer service is one area where small businesses can really shine.
Whether you're a retailer providing customer service in person, or a B2B business with a devoted call center, here are some tactics you and your employees can use to personalize your customers' experiences.
1. Use their names.
You may want to learn the names of your loyal and frequent customers so you and your employees can greet them by name. You can also use your customers' names in communications with them, whether that's direct mail or email newsletters.
Consider having your customer service reps use their real names, too, in emails, chats, phone calls or other interactions with customers. It can be a lot more personal than communicating with ServiceRepresentative@YourBusiness.com.
2. Smile and make eye contact for more personalized customer service.
This may sound obvious, but it's something too many front-line employees fail to do. As texting and social media replace face-to-face communications, we're increasingly seeing a lack of basic social skills among young, entry-level employees. Consider training everyone on giving customers a friendly greeting and pleasant smile, and looking them straight in the eye.
3. Implement a loyalty program.
Loyalty programs can be as simple as giving out paper punch cards (“Buy 10 sandwiches and your next one is free!”) or spontaneously offering a regular customer dessert on the house.
But you may want to take it up a notch by using digital loyalty programs such as Belly or LevelUp. Digital loyalty programs can help you do more than just offer rewards. These programs can gather data about customer behaviors and can help you market to customers in more personalized ways. For example, you can create tailored marketing campaigns based on the specific products customers are interested in or how they prefer to buy.
4. Offer multiple customer service channels.
Some customers like to get help via live chat, others would rather send an email, and still others want to talk to a live person on the phone.
By providing multiple touch points for accessing customer service, you can allow customers to personalize their experience using the method(s) they prefer.
5. Be human.
Have you ever talked to a customer service rep who you could tell was just reciting rote answers off a script? It can make you feel like they aren't really listening to you.
Contrast that with customer service reps who chat with you while they're working on your issue. Something as simple as asking a customer how the weather is where they are or if they have fun plans for the weekend can help humanize the experience. (Bonus: It can also help humanize your reps so customers may be more patient with them.)
6. Collect and share customer data.
This can be as old-school as a file card system (like the kind a hairdresser might use to jot down customers' names, contact info, personal details and cut and color preferences). However, it's a lot easier to go digital with customer data. Customer relationship management (CRM) software or help desk software like FreshDesk or ZenDesk lets you maintain detailed records about your customers and their previous interactions with your business. If your customer service employees can all access this information, they can then personalize interactions by referencing previous orders or past service issues.
7. Create smooth transitions.
Sometimes, your customer service employees have to hand a customer off to a manager, another representative or a different department, either in person or by phone. Making sure these transitions go smoothly can help keep the customer from feeling like they got left hanging.
In person, consider having employees explaining the issue to the manager before leaving. And on the phone or online, have employees explain what they're doing (“I'm going to transfer you to Steve in our accounting department”) and give the customer a direct phone line or email address to use if they get cut off.
8. Make recommendations.
Using information about customers' past purchasing behaviors can help make it easier for you to recommend new products they might like. For instance, a retailer could make suggestions when customers visit the store, or send them an email or text message when new products come in that they might like.
E-commerce businesses may want to add a recommendation feature to their websites. These offer suggestions for similar or complementary purchases to shoppers as they browse products or services, or put items in their carts.
Are you using technology to offer personalized customer service experiences for your customers? Has it had a positive impact?
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