CX Insight Magazine

April 2020

Let’s Get Personal

Leveraging Personalization to Increase Customer Loyalty and Retention


By: Execs In The Know

With each passing year, customers in many consumer industries further prioritize personalization over product, putting constant pressure on global brands to become more innovative with their approaches. What’s popular today isn’t always popular tomorrow, and a personalized customer journey – both in-store and online – is now the path to a more sustainable, lucrative customer retention rate.

An overwhelming 76% of customers, according to Salesforce, expect companies to understand their needs, while an even greater 84% say that a brand can win them over by simply treating them like a person.

The path to personalization does not come without its challenges. It’s tougher than ever to keep up with evolving technologies and changing customer needs, so how are major brands making sure personalization is at the forefront of their strategies in 2020 and how are they adapting their strategies amidst the onset of COVID-19?

Why Personalization Matters
Face it, whether in “normal times” or during a crisis (e.g. COVID-19 pandemic), when a customer is calling in or logging on – they expect a brand to have empathy, have their information available, and to solve their problem. Hear me, know me, and help me. Sounds simple, right?

We know consumers will share their experiences. As a matter of fact, according to the latest Consumer-Edition of the CX Management Benchmark Report, 68% of consumer respondents said they would share experience with friends, family, and others. This response has been on the rise since 2016.

Brands are losing business because of poor customer experience, with 57% of consumers from the same report claiming they will discontinue to do business with a brand due to poor customer care. Additionally, 84% said a negative experience would impact future purchasing decisions.

When asked what information would significantly impact their level of service, a combined 61% said having more knowledgeable advisors, shorter response/resolution time, and friendlier service. All these service levels can be addressed with a friendly agent who has information at their fingertips so they can provide a solution.

Over the years, personalization has evolved from broad segmentation and demographics to product personalization and online experience to today’s focus on highly personalized customer experiences fueled by data.

The process of leveraging personalization to nurture a more loyal, retentive audience involves being more human at every level. Empathy for the buyer’s journey and unique offers on a customer’s preferred platform routinely turn one-time customers into lifetime brand advocates.

360-Degree View of the Data for Personalized Service
We hear many conversations among CX leaders that detail how execs have little to no problem collecting data, yet run into challenges when it comes to breaking down the silos of information and bringing it together to turn data into actionable insights that can be translated into desired outcomes.

Having an omni-channel analytics solution in place at each touchpoint is necessary to collect, warehouse, and analyze the 360-degree view. Then, the tools to serve up the contextual data to marketing are put at the agents’ fingertips to enable a 360-degree personalized service experience. A modern customer journey touchpoint must be designed to not only answer the question at hand in a timely manner, but also incorporate a concerted effort to collect and learn more about the customer along the way. In times like we are experiencing now, where stress and frustration is at an all-time high, imagine if an agent could build rapport with the customer by naturally weaving in contextual information delivered with empathy about the current COVID situation. The agent could then provide recommendations using past purchase history information, provide an element of surprise by mentioning they see the customer’s birthday is coming up, solve their problem, and collect information about their particular situation so it’s available the next time they call in for help.

Implementing a robust tool, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, can help pull together transactional data, preferences, and other customer information which can serve as a solid foundation for targeted promotions and customer intelligence. Tools are fabulous for warehousing the data, but to be effective, the user interface needs to be set up properly for customer-facing employees to easily parse through the information in real-time on a phone call or in person. Additionally, it is important to train the customer-facing employees to organically weave the data into the conversation so it doesn’t come across as ingenuine, or even creepy. Customers still place tremendous value on privacy and often react unfavorably when they feel companies know more than they should.

When positioned properly, even traditional biometric authentication including customer identification through phone number and automatic number identification matching can be perceived as personal. Within loyalty programs, the common practices of using dedicated phone numbers, custom service levels based on loyalty tiers, personalized greetings, and expressed appreciation loyalty program participation can make a significant impact to a customer feeling valued. For executives from companies not quite as established with data personalization strategies, Experian found the three most pressing challenges in the way of personalization include:

  • Gaining insight quickly enough (40%)
  • Not having enough data (39%)
  • Inaccurate data (38%)

Data is what kickstarts the personalized journey to loyalty and retention. Creating customer journeys to map all the personalization opportunity touchpoints not only provides a vision of what information is needed along the way, but also when it is needed. It can also flush out where the gap in information lies and where you might be able to gather and verify the information earlier in the journey to improve accuracy. Understanding the customers’ journey can then help ensure you are collecting the right information and transforming the data from buying behaviors, purchase history, preferences, channel interactions, sentiment, frequency data, and more to deliver personalization at the right time through dynamic content, website relevancy, app experiences, online advertising, face-to-face interactions, bots, chat rooms, and call interactions.

Breaking News: Loyalty Programs Still Generate Loyalty
As the old yet relevant adage goes, attracting new customers is still five times as expensive as retaining existing ones. Rewarding returning customers for coming back still has many benefits, and it’s still well worth the investment to give this area of an audience some special treatment in 2020.

A report by Accenture Interactive showed that loyalty program members bring 12 to 18 percent more revenue for retail businesses than non-members do. Even a slight loyalty increase can have a major impact down the road in terms of lifetime profits and cost reduction, but once again – this is where personalization comes in.

Loyalty programs in 2020 are much more than a punch card. An overwhelming number of customers are unsatisfied with current levels of personalization within typical loyalty programs, which shows companies are leaving plenty of money on the table.

Routes To Personalize a Loyalty Program
The mobile phone is the one device that opens all service channels to the customer. According to Business Insider, people are checking their phones over 150 times per day. No other platform gets that level of attention, opening the door for companies to get creative by offering points or personalized discounts within their mobile apps, personalized text messages, tiered systems to incentivize customers to hit personal targets, custom phone lines, and more. According to a Virtual Incentives whitepaper, respondents admitted they would be twice as likely to change behavior if they would receive a personalized incentive or reward. This level of personalization not only encourages spending, but keeps your brand top of mind and creates a deep and emotional connection with customers that keeps them coming back to a company they know and continue to grow to admire.

Personalization is not a one-way street. You might know your customer, but how well do they know your company? Through loyalty programs and the personalized experiences that align with interests and needs, your brand values can ring through to build trust and reinforce the emotional connection with your brand to keep them coming back.

The more personalized a loyalty program can be, the more it resonates and keeps your brand top of mind. Ecommerce Insiders suggests six ways to personalize your loyalty programs:

  1. Celebrate Important Customer Dates
  2. Cater to Interests
  3. Make it Custom Through Choice
  4. Get Personal on Social Media to Connect
  5. Allow for Customer Input
  6. Customize Celebrated Holidays

Proactive Messaging
A next-level CX strategy entails the ability to solve a customer’s problem before they ever knew they had it. Customers expect to be reached on their preferred platform, and it remains one of the best ways to generate loyalty. Engaging the consumer with the right message through the correct omni-channel approach in a proactive manner is imperative.

There are two types of proactive messaging – trigger-based and broadcasted. With trigger-based messaging, an automated message is sent when a customer possibly hasn’t used a certain feature, abandoned their cart, didn’t engage with certain content, or any other actions that led the company to reach out to help. Broadcasted messaging is less specific and is often used to shed light on an upcoming event or feature in a high-traffic location. Either form can be used to acquire or educate customers in many ways.

If your company allows customers to create unique profiles to serve as a detailed customer data platform, companies can then expound on that information to recommend specific products to each customer that might interest them. In a time where so many consumers quickly leave websites due to being overwhelmed with too many options, a direct recommendation based on a customer’s browsing or purchase history is a proactive use of data that establishes trust with a customer.

Getting Personal During The New Normal and Beyond
Personalization starts with a customer-centric mindset and breaking down the silos of data. As the business environment continues to evolve through the COVID pandemic, customers will turn to the brands they know and trust. They will turn to the brands they have a personal connection with, who are top of mind, who treat them with personal care, who provide them with relevant and needs-based information, and who deliver experiences with empathy. In the wake of the pandemic, the way customers traditionally interact with brands is changing and it makes personalization even more important through digital and phone channels. Doing this with empathy at scale is the challenge at hand. How are you delivering actionable information to your front-line agents, and using this information to customize your messaging, and training your agents to feel enabled to go off script and make a human connection?

If you are interested in learning more about personalization and the tools that help get you there, you can check out our webinars on personalization, view our latest data and analytics video, get involved in the conversation on the KIA (Know It All) Online Community, or check out our Marketplace for personalization resources and exclusive information from our expert partners.



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