Personalization makes everything you offer or do for a customer relevant to them. There are limits, of course. The line between helpful and overstepping your boundaries is a thin one. Done right you can offer very useful options to your customers and can also make them feel like they are cared for, even if one of your customer service team has not spoken to that customer directly. Done wrong and customers may feel like you have violated their privacy or overstepped. It is a fine line, but thankfully there are many company’s out there that have successfully found that balance.
You do not need to hunt them down and research on your own, either. With this guide you will be able to offer extremely helpful and welcome personalization, no matter how big or small your company is:
Put Your Customers in Charge
The best way to avoid the overstepping of boundaries is to put your customers in charge. In many places this is legally mandated, thanks to the GDPR in Europe and other similar laws from countries around the world. Regardless of what the rules are where you are located, it is smart to give customers the option as to how you communicate with them, and what data they offer.
The bare minimum that they will have to agree to include things like cookies, as well as email. These are essential to allow for basic functions on your website. More advanced choices include things like tracking preferences, buying habits, and more. You could even ask customers to offer information up about themselves for rewards. For example, if they provide preferences or answer a quiz, you can provide them with regular style guides from your product range, or you can offer them a discount on their birthday.
By putting your customers in charge of the data they provide and the data that you use, you can offer the level of personalization that each customer is comfortable with.
Know when Automated Personalization and when Human Personalization are Necessary
There are different levels of personalization. Typically, when businesses talk about personalization, they want it to be automated and that is perfectly valid. A lot of personalization is only possible through machine learning and other automated features, especially if you are large company with a significant customer base. Just because most personalization only comes through automation, however, does not mean that the human touch is made obsolete.
Automated personalization uses your existing data to offer better suggestions and service to your customer. The most basic level of personalization is to take a newsletter subscription or a purchase and use standard data like name and order number to personalize an email.
Hi [Customer Name] is personalization. It is one of the most basic forms of personalization, yes, but you can start to see why automation is so important. By putting your customers in charge of what information you use, you can set the right expectation in terms of what they can expect from you.
Over time you can offer them personalized suggestions from your product range or even from your blog. You can even offer them special discounts and other rewards for being a loyal customer.
Any interaction between your customer and your employees is an opportunity to provide human personalization. If a customer has had the same problem a few times, your team should know this, regardless of whether or not the customer talks to the same person.
To make it both easy and possible for your team to handle human personalization (in this case just good old customer service) you need a single portal so that they can easily chat with customers, even on the go. This way you can connect customers to your customer representative through a live chat bot, or otherwise manage complaints and questions from a variety of sources directly within the same portal.
By combining account information and other personalization features, like the ability to create custom template responses, you can offer professional personalization that will wow your customers and help them get what they want out of your company.
How to Offer Personalization
Offering personalization is possible for every single business. You could be brand new and only have one employee (yourself) and still be able to offer it.
You Need Data
To offer personalization you need data, which means you need a data management system. This should be able to create unique customer profiles for every customer who either buys from you or subscribes to you in some way. The level of detail you keep will depend on what the customer allows, but at minimum you should keep information relating to any orders they make, as well as preferences they have set and their name.
You Need an Integrated System
The data you collect will not just be directly inputted from your customer. Cookies and other tracking tools on your site can really help build custom profiles for every one of your customers (so long as you get their consent). To make use of the information that you collect, you need every single tool you use to run your business to be able to talk and communicate together. This is how you make the process automatic. If you have to have someone manually input your data, then you will not get the most out of it and your personalization offerings are not going to be budget friendly.
You Need Analytics
Analytics can help you understand the data that you are collecting in a human way. Personalization does not just refer to one single person, after all. If customers consistently use one tool or have otherwise made it known that they like or do not like certain aspects of your business, then you need to be able to see, understand, and make changes. This is a more hands-off type of personalization, but it still helps customers feel seen and heard, and is therefore a very useful avenue to invest in for your business.