In the past, price and product features were usually the primary drivers of customer acquisition and sales. While that is still the case, personalization of the customer experience has also emerged as a very important factor. In fact, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences. Couple this with other findings, such as 91% of consumers saying they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them, and 83% of consumers being willing to share their data to create a more personalized experience, and the emerging trend is clear; personalization in retail is a significant differentiator in today’s market!
What Exactly is a Personalized Customer Experience?
A personalized customer experience begins with building a “consumer profile” for each of your customers through data gathering and analytics. Then, it’s about using that information to deliver customized assistance and service, in accordance with your customers’ “consumer profile”, whether that’s as part of a customer segmented approach, or at a much more in-depth individual level.
Delivering a personalized customer experience can help brands build strong emotional connections with consumers and attract and retain customers. This is why 98% of marketers agree that personalization advances customer relationships, and 79% of retailers are investing in personalization; the most of any industry.
How Personalization Can Benefit Retail Businesses
There are many ways that customer experience personalization can help your business. Some of the most common and quickly realized benefits include:
Better Fulfillment of Customer Expectations – If you gather data about your customers and create consumer profiles for them, you’ll better be able to anticipate what they expect from you. In fact, 66% of customers expect retailers to understand their unique needs and requirements, but 66% also said that they feel like they’re just treated like numbers. So, this is a huge opportunity for retailers who want to stand out!
Improved Customer Retention and Employee Engagement – Personalization in retail can create positive feedback loops, improve employee engagement, and ensure customers return to make additional purchases. 93% of customers are more likely to make a repeat purchase from a brand that offers excellent customer service. What’s more, such brands generally have 1.5 times more-engaged employees.
Fewer Returns & More Opportunities to Excel at Customer Experience – Retailers with exceptional customer experiences can expect to keep the overall rate of returned items on impulse buys to below 5%. The returns process is a very important area for customer service, and doing well here can net you big returns (pun intended) in terms of customer loyalty and returning shoppers, with 84% saying a positive returns experience encourages them to shop with that retailer again.
How You Can Immediately Improve Personalization and Customer Experience In-Store
Cultivate Customer-Focused People
When was the last time you walked into a store only to be treated distantly? Would you be inspired to go back? Probably not, and this is how your customers will feel too. The best way to overcome this is to inspire a customer-focused culture amongst your employees. They should be educated about the benefits of personalization, and you need to win them over to believe in and understand the importance of customer experience, so training matters.
On-Demand Offers, Loyalty Programs and Digital Experience Extensions
“One-size-fits-all” offers don’t work anymore. You need to understand your customers and know what they’re after when tailoring offers to them. You also need to present these offers at opportune moments. Therefore, taking advantage of mobile devices is key.
When customers walk into your store, they should be able to get tailored offers pushed to them on their mobile device. This is where good data comes in. For example, if your customer has searched for a particular item before, and you know this, you can then send them targeted offers, which they are more likely to respond to, and which also create a stronger bond with your brand or business through the personalization.
When it comes to loyalty programs too, the old-style ones don’t work as well anymore. You need to look at gamification and make your programs extremely easy to understand. Include tangible benefits such as offers and discounts; but also include benefits like exclusive customer opportunities, where you can really let personalization do its thing. It must be exciting, engaging, and fresh, all the time.
It is also possible to use location-based technology, augmented reality (AR) and other digital tools to further personalize and add value to your customer experience. AR, for example, can help to guide customers around your store; location-based technology can trigger offers based on where in the store your customer is.
Tips for Online Retailers or Retailers with Online Stores
Mobile First – This should be your mantra. 63% of all retail website visits came from smartphones as early as Q2 of 2018 and 50% of all online sales in the US occurred on mobile devices. Therefore, having a mobile-first philosophy is crucial.
Attractive Website – Your online experience should be smooth. Uncluttered, easy to understand and navigate, quick loading, and “snappy” are all things consumers are seeking. To underscore the importance of an attractive website:
- 38% of people will stop engaging with a site if it’s unattractive
- 88% are less likely to return after a bad experience such as slow loading
- 39% will stop engaging if images take too long or won’t load at all
Why Mobile Personalization Matters for Physical Retail
When it comes to retail, it is easy to personalize experiences in-store. However, it is also crucial that your digital channels share this level of personalization with a mobile-first approach. Why? Because 59% of all internet traffic globally now comes from mobile and 66% of customers say that a frustrating experience on a website hurts their overall opinion of the brand.
Topping this all, 85% of adults believe that a brand’s website should look as good or better on mobile devices than desktop! Therefore, it’s no wonder that 84% of companies who claim to be customer-centric are now focusing on their mobile customer experience.
Exciting Ways You Can Use Mobile to Personalize Your Customer Experience
The mobile platform, because of its personal nature, the emotional bond consumers have with their phones, and the myriad of channels available to reach out, is a key way to personalize your experience. Here are some quick tips.
1. Tap into WhatsApp
With 2 billion active users, WhatsApp is a direct line to your customer. And, since it’s two-way, it provides genuinely personalized attention. You can use external tools to acquire data and metrics to feed your consumer profiles. Some ways you can boost your personalization game through WhatsApp are by talking about different, but related topics, to the purchase the customer would like to make. Customers love conversations. Always be friendly and smiling (use emojis, but with professional restraint). Then, always call your customer by name; this makes them feel that they’re receiving 100% of your undivided attention.
2. Don’t Forget SMS
While WhatsApp is the hot platform, don’t forget traditional SMS. It can come in handy for general marketing messages. In fact, SMS has a 98% open rate globally. Plus, beyond marketing messages, SMS is very utilitarian, particularly for automated customer comms, such as order confirmations, shipping notifications with tracking numbers, delivery notifications, reminders to leave reviews, and many more. SMS is also good for promotions and re-marketing. SMS, while usually unable to provide the depth of personalization that WhatsApp does, can still help to make your customers feel like they have personal attention, and that you are looking into their unique needs.
3. Utilize Voice Messages
Another often overlooked way to personalize your customer experience is to use voice messages. These can be automated and created from text, and delivered through a quick phone call. These are good because they’re flexible, especially for people who may not like to read or who are on the go. They’re versatile because you can use them for almost anything, and they can be fully automated. It is possible to provide interactive voice messages too, where a system can respond in voice, in real-time, to your customers, all automatically. But, with voice messages, do remember that they can be more intrusive than WhatsApp or SMS, and the last thing you want is for your customers to think of you as a nuisance. So, use them sparingly.
How an Omnichannel Experience Powered by a Customer Engagement Platform Can Help with Personalization
An omnichannel experience is one where, no matter which channel your customer chooses to interact with you on, the customer experience is uniform and personalized to them. With 98% of people using and switching between multiple devices and platforms through the day, according to Google, an omnichannel experience is non-negotiable.
Powering your omnichannel experience with a good Customer Engagement Platform, can allow you to use a single interface and platform to manage all your customer data, communications, interactions, and other customer experience personalization efforts, such as those that have been discussed previously in this article.
Customer engagement platforms, such as Syniverse CPaaS Concierge, are economical, affordable, scalable, and quickly implemented, providing unmatched data gathering and analytics tools, while also making delivery and tracking seamless, intuitive, and unified. They can help you to easily provide the personalized experience your consumers desire, while providing your back-office/customer service resources with a single window through which to monitor and control it all.
There are many ways an omnichannel experience can help you optimize your retail customer experience. These include:
- Easy coordination and responsivity during high-demand windows such as Black Friday and other major sales. Plus, with many shoppers now preferring to shop online, there’s a need to effectively and efficiently handle inquiries, returns, etc. Having all these communications powered through a single interface is convenient and efficient for your employees.
- You can integrate voice messages to alert customers about various events. For example, a package being dispatched to them, their return being processed successfully, etc… Plus, with Syniverse CPaaS Concierge’s integrated voice features, your messages will not sound robotic.
- Integrating chatbots into your customer experience can help free up your human resources for more important priorities. This is because chatbots will efficiently and effectively handle most common questions in a conversational way, letting your people devote their attention to where it’s really needed.
Syniverse CPaaS Concierge has already proven itself, having enhanced engagement by up to 40%, increased revenue for a single mobile marketing campaign by over USD 1.2 million and helped a specialty retail chain achieve 34X ROI on a single SMS campaign. The platform is also used by financial institutions around the world, an area where customer service is truly king.