By Katie Mares Customer Experience Consultant for The DiJulius Group
Technology has made it increasingly difficult for the storefront retailers to create an experience that satisfies their customer’s needs. Think about it for a minute, when you go on line virtually all websites collect data and your shopping behavior from the last visit to the site. This information is collected, stored, and then used to customize your experience including using your name, address and making recommendations to you. How do storefront retailers combat modern age technology and create an experience that customers will go out of their way to engage in? Personalization of the experience they offer will allow them to connect with their customers on a new (emotional) level. To stay competitive, we must get personal.
The Golden Rule is a Thing of the Past
Grandma always said “treat others the way you would like to be treated”. Companies can no longer survive on treating their customer the way they think their customer wants or needs to be treated. As more companies become ‘customer obsessed’, they are quickly learning that the way of the past is not going to keep their customer loyal.
The Platinum Rule is the One to Follow
Companies are striving to become increasingly more customer centric. This requires a different frame of mind. There has been a paradigm shift in the customer experience philosophy of those customer centric companies. The platinum rule “treat others the way they need to be treated” is the new way of thinking. No matter what industry your company resides in, you are in the customer perception business. What they think and feel is the reality. The tipping point is the moment you understand this and get to know your customers on a personal level. Only then will you provide your customers an experience that lives up to their expectations. Data from the 2014 EKN Millennial Study showed that consumers are willing to pay up to 41% more for an excellent customer experience, including personalized engagement across all touch points.
Customers now expect a tailored experience consistently across all channels and touch points when they interact with your company. They expect their favorite brands to understand them and their needs without them having to work to tell you this information. With technology and advanced CRM’s, it is next to impossible NOT to collect the data and information needed to provide a tailored experience for your customers. Bruce Temkin wrote in his article on the 11 trends for 2016, “As companies connect rich customer feedback with reams of CRM and operational data, the value of predictive modeling will rise exponentially. We expect to see firms that have built data hubs over the last few years investing in predictive modeling and using the insights to develop a more personalized treatment of customers.”
If you don’t have a complex technology system to aggregate this information for you, there are plenty of other ways to collect and create ‘secret service’ systems with little to no cost that will have a big impact on the experience your company provides, resulting in increased customer loyalty and larger per customer spend.
Secret Service, Uncovering the Personal
The best way to uncover the true needs of your customer is to build a relationship with them. Again, making a shift in the old school train of thought. A simple acronym that will help any company understand their customer is FORD (FAMILY. OCCUPATION. RECREATION. DREAM). This simple acronym can be added to a CRM or to a customer profile (hard or soft copy). Collecting this type of information through conversations with your customers will allow you to tailor each interaction you have with your customer going forward.
Train and Empower your Team
Having a clear strategy on how you use the insights you gather on your customer and ensuring your teams are trained and empowered to do what it takes (within reason) is the key to success of providing a personalized experience. Without this, you will have a platinum mine of information nuggets which will go to waste as no one will do anything with it! Create programs for your teams to follow and give them the freedom to make decisions that are necessary to personalize each interaction with your customers, turning the everyday transaction into an enjoyable interaction.
A competitive edge! Combining Secret Service information and operational data will allow you to understand your customer and give you the competitive edge you need to take your current experience to the next level. The goal? Your customers will think of you first and visit your location because they feel great when doing so.
Let’s get personal!