How to balance personalization and automation in your customer interactions

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Sometimes, you want to go where everybody knows your name. And with technology today, almost every business you interact with knows your name. But knowing your customer’s name likely isn’t enough anymore. If you truly want to create personalized interactions for your customers, you need to dig a little deeper.

Good businesses are constantly collecting information about their customers. They know practically everything about them. However, these businesses are missing out on a huge opportunity if they aren’t using that data to make their interactions resonate on a personal level.

The problem many businesses find when trying to automate personalization is they come off sounding like a robot. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can still have the benefit of a personalized touch without having to craft each message individually.

Why personalization matters

Probably the most important reason you should personalize customer interactions is that it works. Customer interactions with personalized calls-to-action have a 42 percent higher conversion rate than those that don’t. If a consumer has interacted with your business before, don’t treat them like a stranger – and this goes for both in-person and digital interactions.

Your CRM and Customer Interaction Platform are filled with a wealth of knowledge about your customers. However, that data is worthless unless you leverage it to drive customers to your location, encourage repeat business, or to ease the transition from online to offline interactions.

Additionally, because a vast majority of research about your business is done online, you need to look for ways to keep the customer interested before they bounce. And the best way to do that is by providing personalized offers on your website based on previous interactions with your business.

Ask the right questions

One of the biggest obstacles you can face when digging through your data is knowing what to look for. The key is to have at least a general idea of what questions you want to be answered. If you don’t have a specific question in mind, it is really easy to get lost. Below are some suggestions to things you can look for in your CRM and interaction data that will help drive your personalization and automation strategy:

  • What calls-to-action have the highest conversion rates?
  • When is the optimal time to send an email?
  • What is the best day of the week to interact with my customers?
  • Which types of interactions have the highest response rate?
  • What types of content garner the most clicks?
  • Who is visiting my website?

These are just a few questions you can ask to help you get started. You know your business best, so before you start any data analytics projects, go in with a specific question. This will help you stay focused and drill into the areas that will really help improve the quality and efficiency of your content and customer interactions.

Streamlining the customer journey

As mentioned, the way that customers discover and ultimately choose your business is changing. Most of the customer journey is taking place online. But even though e-commerce is becoming more and more popular every year, 92 percent of retail purchases still take place in a physical store.

What that means is that you continually need to look for ways to help potential customers find your business online, provide a smooth transition from online to offline interactions, and maintain consistent interactions post-purchase. Personalized content and automated messaging are of the utmost importance in helping you accomplish that.

Once a customer has visited your website, there are a number of strategies you can employ to help keep your business or brand top of mind. The most obvious and widely used is retargeting. This makes it easy for you to serve up relevant ads to potential customers based on their search history.

The key word in that last sentence is relevant. According to research by Accenture, 65 percent of consumers said they are more likely to make a purchase from a business that serves them ads that are relevant and personalized.

This makes complete sense. Just think of how many advertising messages people have to sift through nowadays from billboards on the commute, to banners online, to midrolls on podcasts. If you want your message to cut through all that noise, it needs to stand out. Having messages that are relevant and personal is one of the most effective ways to accomplish that.

Help narrow the choices

Another way to use customer data to create personalized, automated messages is by providing repeat visitors recommendations based on previous purchase history or searches. That same research by Accenture found that nearly 60 percent of consumers said that they are more likely to make a purchase when a retailer makes recommendations based on their past purchases or preferences. The research also noted that the recommendations would be improved when accompanied by the relevant content or the right offers.

Stay engaged

Once a customer has engaged your business it’s important to maintain interaction throughout the entire customer journey. Because today’s consumer is faced with so much choice, it is getting more and more difficult to get customers to actually visit your location.

At Podium, we have developed technology that makes it easy for you to interact with customers in a personal way via channels that are both familiar and convenient. We make it easy for you to interact at key points of the customer journey to ensure interactions occur at the right time without over-burdening your employees. Below are examples of interactions that we recommend:

  • Online review invitation
  • Appointment reminder
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Answering general questions
  • Follow-up for additional feedback

In-person interactions still matter

Once you get a customer to visit your location, it’s important to make sure the transition from online to offline goes as smooth as possible. If you’ve followed our advice up to this point, you should have a wealth of knowledge about the customer to help you close the sale.

The problem is that many businesses aren’t doing an effective job using that data to their advantage. For example, if you’re a car dealership and your website has an online chat feature, make sure all of those interactions are captured in your CRM so they can be utilized by your onsite staff.

Nothing will frustrate a customer more than having to start the sales process all over again once they transition from online to in-person interactions. One of the reasons many consumers conduct online research before going to a business is to accelerate the sales process. If your business doesn’t make the most of the existing data it has about customers when they visit, you could be the reason the process stalls.

Maintain consistent contact

Finally, after the sale is completed, it’s important for you to maintain contact with the customer to help develop loyalty. There are a number of things our customers are doing to stay top of mind, including:

  • Collecting feedback about customer experience
  • Sending online review invitations
  • Sending service reminders
  • Conducting NPS surveys

These interactions will help you collect more valuable data to improve your business. They also let your customers know on an individual level that you value their feedback and opinions, which will help you foster stronger, longer-lasting relationships.

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