Today’s consumer can afford to be picky with the products they’re offered by vendors. Thanks to an explosion in product options, buyers can play the role of king makers in business. They’re making some companies into industry leaders by purchasing their products enmasse, and sinking others by avoiding them. The success of business comes down to being able to woo these sceptre wielders to buy.
Then there’s digital technology, which has opened up a new battleground for brands. Customers get bombarded with tons of adverts every single day, from businesses courting their patronage. They can choose to click ‘buy’, or tap the cancel button. They are in charge.
It’s therefore not a surprise that customers are demanding personalized services. They get a lot of things marketed at them all the time; they can tell when you’re genuinely interested in solving their problems, and when you’re simply trying to ram your product down their throats. You’ll do better at selling to them if you tailor your products and services, as well as your communication, to fit with their preferences and expectations.
The good news is, you don’t have to spend a large chunk of your budget on creating a personalized product or service experience for your customers. There are many useful strategies you can employ to make your customers feel special enough to keep coming back. Some of these don’t even cost a dime. Have a look.
Be cheerful and courteous
This usually prepares the way for easier customer-vendor interactions. Attendants who smile at the customer and speak to them courteously tend to positively influence the customer’s perception of their company. Of course, underwhelming performance in other aspects of the company might sully that initial impression, so you should work to fix those parts too.
When you bring a cheerful demeanour to every one-to-one interaction with your customers, you create a pleasant personalized experience for them. And when it’s a culture for your business, you’ll become known for it, and pull more people to your business as a result.
Address them by their names
Make this a deliberate policy for yourself and your team, and you’ll be surprised what positive impact it has.
Maybe you’re already doing this in your physical interactions with your customers. What about your phone calls? Do your emails address their recipients by name (there are ways to do this quickly)? Also remember that answering their mailed inquiries presents you with a chance to do this. And when you respond in a warm and concerned way, you’ll make a good impression on your email’s recepient.
Don’t sound automated
Some customer care representatives make the mistake of trying to sound robotic. But acting automated and not responding appropriately to emotional cues from customers (such as happiness, disappointment, excitement or agitation) might make them come across as cold and disinterested. A few people won’t mind this, but many will.
Be responsive, empathetic and helpful. However, you don’t want to be too chirpy. Just maintain the professional balance your job requires.
Track customer preferences
This should be a bit easier for businesses which operate online. If you’re running a website or social media page, you can get insights into your customer’s click through habits, purchasing patterns and other relevant data by deploying analytics programs that can help you collect such data. The information you gather with data analysis tools could be for single persons, segments of the customer base, or the entire customer population.
When you have these insights, you should use them to determine how your services could be tweaked to fit with the needs of individuals and groups of customers.
Connect with customers on several fronts
Some customers are on social media quite regularly. A number of them will prefer emails. A few will take voice calls over all other channels. If you’re live on all these mediums, you’ll have your customers covered.
Engage your customers through their preferred means of communication. Respond to their emailed questions, take their complaints over the phone (and deal with them promptly), and acknowledge them directly when they compliment you on social media.
Use customized packaging and stickers
This works particularly well for special occasions or holiday seasons. You can create a buzz around your product by offering buyers customized products and gifts. They could be the regular sort of item you sell, with a sticker bearing the buyer’s name slapped on; or it might be something with a more permanent marker, like shirts with the customer’s name printed on it. You could inform your buyers to preorder these items if they want them, and even provide specifications for the customized items they’re ordering.