Giving a customer a personalized experience is proven way to increase profitability for your company, build trust and earn customer loyalty, which will result in long-term dependency for their purchase decisions.
First of all, a customer who feels special is going to trust that you have their best interests at heart and aren’t simply trying to turn a profit. Secondly, consumers now have more power than ever to improve or trash your public image due to the ever-growing interconnectedness of the world through social media. 90% of respondents in a survey from Dimensional Research agreed that online reviews are likely to influence their purchase decisions, and 86% reported that negative reviews may persuade them to take their business elsewhere.
Therefore, a happy customer who feels as though their experience was above-and-beyond the norm of customer service might just take that glowing review to their social media networks, boosting awareness of your brand in their circles, as well as to review sites, improving the overall reputation of your brand.
Guiding the customer through a personalized decision-making process is the best way to approach the tactic of making them feel unique and important. So, what does that entail?
1. Get them talking: Find out what they want.
The number one way to make a customer feel unique is to get them talking; about themselves. A recent study from the Harvard University Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab found that there is an intrinsic pleasure to be gained from talking about oneself and sharing one’s subjective experiences with an audience. No matter how exciting an objective topic at hand may have been, individuals had a greater neural reaction and corresponding pleasurable response to sharing their own personal opinions and experiences.
Therefore, logically, the next step is that if your customer is talking, you must listen.
2. Actively Listen: Don’t just pitch.
Actively is the key word in this step for making your customer feel unique. It should be obvious, but how many of us have felt shut down by being pitched a product that we had no interest in whatsoever, or have been guided to set of products that don’t remotely correlate to what was asked for? We all just want to be heard.
Smart businesses use Guided Selling to approach this step. If the customer is searching for a laptop, then go ahead and eliminate any further questions in your app that aren’t relevant, such as tablet suggestions. If you’re selling perfume, find out if your customer is allergic to anything and throw away any results with that ingredient. See where I’m going with this? The only purpose irrelevant suggestions serve is to frustrate the customer, especially if they confusedly decide on a product only to find out their fundamental criteria has been ignored!
3. Show you are listening: Make personalized suggestions based on their wants and needs.
In a perfect world, you would always carry the exact solution at the exact price that the customer is looking for. But of course, that is rarely the case. Once their search yields inconclusive results, you want to deter them from going to your competitor by providing a suitable alternate suggestion.
Let them know you heard them. Now you can suggest different solutions. Deduce what factors are non-negotiable, and what can be compromised. There must be a trade-off of some kind as well – don’t bother suggesting something twice the price, while lacking the extended battery life they sought. Help them to feel like they got a better deal than what they came for. Perhaps even offer a deal or rain check if the limited edition of what they wanted is sold out.
If you want to explore the topic of personalization in e-commerce more, you should definitely read our article about different ways to deliver personalized shopping experience.
4. Follow-up: Ask how they are enjoying their products.
Some may consider this step annoying or spam, so you must incentivize the consumer to respond, and for an added bonus, try to combine it with their birthday or a holiday greeting, and offer coupons on products similar or complementary to the one they purchased.
A tried method involves offering a discount or voucher for responding to a short survey or participating in a live chat with a customer service representative. However, as far as creating that elusive feeling of uniqueness, this method has become somewhat stale.
Better yet, try asking their permission to share their unique feedback on the company’s main social media account. For example, re-tweeting their uploaded picture of themselves wearing the product, or featuring their positive review on your Facebook page, with a shout-out or sincere thank-you attached.
This exposes the consumer to a potentially much wider audience, resulting in even more license for them to feel special and acknowledged. In fact, passer-bys on your page might buy a product for the sheer sake of the possibility of having their own special moment on your timeline.
The main goal of these points is to make the customer feel unique, so that they will trust you with future purchase decisions, and share their positive experience with others. Feeling heard is a proven way to make someone feel special, and as a result, they will be much more motivated to award you with their loyalty.
Taking my own advice, I’d like to open the floor to you. What positive experiences have you had lately with above-and-beyond customer service? What happened that made you feel special while shopping lately? I’d love to hear what other businesses are doing right, below in the comments! Thanks for reading!