You have competition. And depending on your industry, much of that competition probably does pretty much the same thing you do. Sure, maybe you’ve differentiated based on your packages or pricing, but at the heart of your business, you’re solving the same problem as the other 10 people on the block.
Which leaves you wondering, “How do I stand out?” How do you prove that your business is the right choice, the right partner, for potential customers? According to our Director of Customer Services, Kate Cygan, it’s all about your relationships.
“Prioritizing a personalized customer experience is a great way to stand out in a crowded market,” Kate says. “It helps you to build trust and respect with your customers that brings your relationship beyond transactional and makes it a true partnership.”
Kate is going to walk us through a few key points of creating a personalized customer service experience, including why it’s important, how to do it and what tools can help.
Benefits of Creating a Personalized Experience
Catering to customer needs and ensuring they receive what they paid for takes a lot of time and energy. And many businesses know that they can provide perfectly adequate results by following a cookie-cutter approach to their services.
But is that how you want people to see your business? As “perfectly adequate?” Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Consider these three stats from Netomi:
- 80% of consumers would rather work with a business that offers a personalized experience
- 93% of companies see more conversions when they implement personalization
- 65% of customers say that personalizing services positively influence their sense of brand loyalty
TL;DR: Personalizing your customer service helps you convert leads and keep loyal customers.
“Personalization is how you build trust with customers,” Kate explains. “It makes the customer feel heard and secures the thought that they are an individual in your eyes, not just another number or source of revenue. Personalization shows that your agency cares about them, their goals and where they’re trying to go.”
How to Personalize Your Services
Each of your customers is unique. They all have different needs, goals and ideas of what success looks like for their business. The first step to personalizing your customer experience is to recognize this individuality. You have to approach every relationship with understanding and empathy.
Using this mindset, there are three main ways Kate suggests tailoring your service to each customer.
1.) Get to Know Them
Lasting relationships go beyond the surface. Think about your family members or long-term friendships; you probably know a lot more about them than their names and occupation. Your customer relationships are the same way. If you want to develop a lasting partnership, you need to dig deeper.
As you onboard and start working with new customers, make an effort to get to know them. This could be small talk before a meeting starts, asking how their weekend was or sending helpful links and resources that might be valuable to them. Every interaction is a chance to add a personal touch to the relationship.
“Over time, you’ll start to develop a rapport with the customer,” Kate says. “You can follow up on the vacation they mentioned last week and ask how it went. Or they might be excited to tell you about the company retreat coming up. Although your relationship is professional, it should also feel meaningful to your customer.”
Building this relationship also builds trust in your brand. It helps customers to feel like they’re valuable partners and an important part of your success (just as you are of theirs).
“Having that deeper relationship creates some security. They know you care about more than just what you do for them, but also about their success, whatever that may be.”
Kate also notes that it's critical to form a sincere connection. Your company needs to be truly invested in its customers so that your team can align with their goals, anticipate their needs and find ways to make your services fit their business.
2.) Understand Their Company Structure
Even small businesses can have complex processes when it comes to decision-making. It’s important to remember that you’re never dealing with an individual customer; you’re also dealing with their entire company.
“Each engagement is unique because you never really know what customers are up against when trying to push things through on their end,” Kate explains. She notes that every organization functions differently, relies on different roles for decisions and has to field feedback from different people.
The more you understand this process, the better you can cater to a customer’s needs. You’ll find new ways to work with them and help them hit their goals, no matter how many hoops they need to jump through on their end.
“It’s important, as a partner, that you understand what they need from a deliverable standpoint, but also what they need to achieve inside of their organization. Because ultimately it takes both to create a win for them,” Kate says.
3.) Be Sensitive to Timelines
Everyone has their own timeline. Even though you might aim to have something completed in six weeks, that may not be realistic for your customer. They might have to run deliverables up the ladder to get final approval or discuss a project with their board before making a decision. Both of these take extra time on their end.
Part of personalizing your service is understanding these challenges. Work with your customers to provide as much time as possible for them to get approval and give you the go-ahead for next steps. If you find it’s taking too much time, offer some ways you can help them push things forward on their end.
Kate suggests making a video your customer can share with their team or offering to present your ideas to the group so they can ask questions and get a better understanding of your strategy.
“It’s all about working with their internal processes and helping them to find solutions that push projects over the finish line.”
There are a number of different tools that help you prioritize customer care and the customer experience. Communication channels such as social media and email give you direct insights into customer behavior. Support channels like your help desk or chatbots help your team dial in on customer feedback and address problem areas in the customer journey.
These are all simple tools you can use to support your customers. However, Kate recommends using two more powerful tools when personalizing your customer’s experience.
Your customer relationship management software is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. It helps you organize, track and, yes, manage your customer data so you ensure your entire team is providing top-notch service.
There are tons of CRMs on the market, but we’re particularly fond of HubSpot, which Kate notes is “extremely helpful” when it comes to personalizing service.
She specifically mentions the “notes” section in HubSpot’s CRM, which is available in both company and contact records. This is where your team can log notes from phone calls, emails or meetings so that no one is ever out of the loop about where a customer is in their engagement or the pain points they’re experiencing.
“The notes help with alignment when multiple people on your team are interacting with a customer,” Kate explains. “It also helps with tracking progress in the relationship, recording customer insights and continuity of information if the customer is passed on to a new team or account manager.”
The second tool Kate loves to use for customer support is video, in all its forms.
“Video is key for personalization because it puts you face-to-face with your customer. You can see and interpret body language and notice their emotions in the moment, so you can steer the conversation to address their feelings and concerns.”
In addition to helping you solve problems, video is, by nature, more personal. Sitting face-to-face with someone on a video call — even if there’s a screen in the middle — feels more natural. It’s the closest you can get in the virtual world to actually shaking someone’s hand and sitting down at their desk.
Aside from calls, you can also use 1:1 video to further personalize and build that relationship with your customers. Things like an explainer video when you send over a new deliverable or a thank you video at the end of an engagement go a long way to demonstrate that you value your customer as an individual piece of your overall company.
“Basically, video is a better way to have a conversation with your customers. Email might get your point across, but it leaves a lot out. Video allows each person to express themselves fully and creates opportunities to shift the conversation to what’s most important instead of just what’s on the agenda,” Kate says.
Make It Personal
Personalizing the customer experience is a powerful way to show you’re invested in your customer’s success. It builds a relationship on trust, which encourages customers to continue partnering with you even after their first contract is fulfilled.
Part of personalization is knowing how to talk to your customers. Kate offers her insights on this topic when she shares her 3 Secrets to Improving Your Client Communication. Check it out!