I know what you’re thinking, who are you and why would I remember you? Well I’m not asking if you remember me specifically, at least not yet, but will my customers remember the experience that I provided for them? And does it even matter? This is what I find myself pondering…
Ok I get that it doesn’t sound like it should be an existential crisis question but for someone who spends their whole life telling people that the key to success in business is creating memorable personalized experiences, maybe it’s ok for this question to have some weight with me.
Let’s break it down — what even is a memorable personalized experience? To me, someone who by all accounts and purposes has a terrible memory, a memorable experience, in a business sense, is when someone mentions a brand name to me that I’ve interacted with personally, what’s my visceral feeling about them? Does my gut remember them poorly or am I filled with a warm sensation when I remember them? I recently bought something pretty mundane from a local supplier online and not only did the product arrive beautifully wrapped but it came with a handwritten note thanking me for supporting their business. That’s warm and fuzzy memory creation right there. Now if someone mentions Del Montseny to me I’m going to tell them about this amazing experience and how great they are.
Neatly brining me onto why I think this is the key for businesses to succeed… We’ve never seen such competition in the marketplace as we have right now. In every industry, the buyer is king as we all compete to be heard above the noise and win their business. Not only is it crowded out here but you are fighting basic human instincts. When customers have had a bad experience they are on average going to tell between nine and 15 people about it (White House Office of Consumer Affairs). Contrast that to a good experience where they are likely to only tell three people, the odds aren’t stacked in our favor. Now consider reviews, for every negative review it will take roughly 40 positive reviews to undo that damage (inc.com). That’s a lot of work especially when you consider how few customers leave reviews!
Ok great, but what now? It’s a crowded marketplace and people are more likely to be shouting at poor experiences, so how do you compete? Well, I think competing only on price is a doomed mission from the start as there will always be someone who can undercut you so you need to have something else that will stand out. Is it your product? Sure, as long as its patented and no one can reproduce it. OR is it something much harder to recreate, the experience you give your customers? It is very hard for your competition to reproduce the processes that you have in place to create that warm and fuzzy feeling that you generate in your customers but it’s also the thing that will keep your customers coming back to you.
Do personable experiences matter? Yes, they matter more now than ever. As Olivia Rodrigo says, “it’s brutal out here” and consumers are looking for more and more from their suppliers so get on board or get left behind. McKinsey ran a survey in 2020 and 80% of respondents wanted personalization from retailers.
How do you do this? First, treat your customers as individuals and not a homogenous group. Yes you need to standardize processes but make sure you build your customer success processes with flexibility in mind. I’m not saying you need to send beautiful hand written cards to all of your customers but is there a way that you can generate a similar feeling from a different technique? It could be sending a follow up email a week later to a customer who raises a support query to check that the issue definitely is resolved. It could be having an accurate CRM in place so that when a customer calls, no matter who answers the phone is able to get background on the customer to make them feel appreciated. Grand gestures are amazing and you can aim towards that but the most important thing is to do the absolute basics of personalization;
- Use the name that they have provided — if they introduce themselves as Ms Gomez, use this until they correct you.
- Listen to what they have to say — don’t just guess what they might be going to say and assume you’ve dealt with that issue before
- Repeat their terminology — this is a trick I learned from Hilton and has served me very well. Use the exact phrases that a customer uses back to them, it shows you are listening and increases the feeling of empathy
- Reread your notes — before any call/meeting reread your own notes and also check with your team to make sure you know what’s been going on and specifically check for tone so you know if you’re walking into a warzone or the friendzone
- Give a little to get a little — People are far more likely to share something personal about themselves if you share something personal first. This helps to build a more personable relationship with the customer but keep it safe for work.
Follow these tips and you’ll be off to a very good start. If you want to know more about how to serve your customers better, or what software could help you provide that personalized experience reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org