The great American poet, Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Her wisdom applies in many parts of our lives, including customer experience. Customers may not remember the flavor of ice cream they bought at a shop or exactly what the front desk clerk said to them. But they remember how their interactions with businesses feel. The ones that feel good get a return visit and a recommendation to friends and family. The ones that don’t, repels repeat business and referrals like citronella repels mosquitoes.
Why do feelings mean so much to people? Because our brains make it so. Here is how.
Brain Chemistry and Love
When we experience something satisfying, our brain produces dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter that carries information between neurons in our brain. That, in turn, activates parts of our brain that are responsible for memory, mood, and behaviour.
”Dopamine is a driver of human behavior. Our brains view it as a reward, thereby encouraging the activity to be repeated again and again. Reward and reinforcement are the things that establish personal behaviors, which is what makes us gravitate towards these satisfying experiences.” (Plexure)
Dopamine plays a big role when it comes to pleasure, satisfaction, and – you guessed it – love. Of course, there is much more to it than that. We will leave the more detailed human neuroscience lesson for another time. But we do want to make one point here. When customers feel good about an interaction with a business, the process that takes place in their brains are close to those that occur when people fall in love. And that is something people won’t forget easily.
So how can businesses get into customers’ brains and activate some feel-good chemicals? One way to do that is by getting extremely personal.
The Power of Extreme Personalization
Customer experience futurist, Blake Morgan, uses statistics to show the power of extreme personalization in customer experience. Here are a few.
These statistics go hand in hand with what human psychology shows us. The well-known cocktail party effect is one of the psychological principles that explores human need for personal relevance in their interactions. Have you ever been in a meeting where you turned out of a conversation as soon as you heard something that was not directly relevant to you? Or have you been at a loud gathering, yet were able to focus on a single interaction, disregarding all the noise? Or, perhaps, you got excited when you heard your name on a loudspeaker. These are examples of the cocktail party effect in action. Personalization plays on that psychological human need for relative experiences.
As apparent as the benefits of extreme personalization in customer experience are, creating such experiences can be a bit tricky. After all, unique touches take not only effort, but creativity. So, we are here to give you 6 ways to implement extreme personalization into your customer experience. Perhaps they will inspire you to create your own personalized customer interactions that are so pleasant they become memorable. (And make customers fall in love with you)
1. Listen With Three Senses
Alan Alda, an actor and a best-selling author, spent years learning about successful communication. In his book, “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?” he discusses the importance of listening to people with eyes, ears, and feelings. We must pay attention to people’s words instead of waiting for them to finish talking so we can say our piece. We should watch their facial expressions and body language. And we must listen with our intuition to feel how the other person feels. All that facilitates more empathetic conversations.
This comes in extremely handy when we try to create personal experiences for our customers. In fact, LiveHelpNow’s Director of Customer Success Annie Gray believes that empathy is the number one factor that contributes to wow-worthy customer interactions.
“I think the key to exceptional customer service is the ability to empathize with your customers…Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and imagine how you would feel in that exact situation. Treat each customer as an individual and truly listen to what they have to say before you react.” (Annie, Gray, Director of Customer Success, LiveHelpNow; Authority Magazine)
Listening with empathy helps add that extreme personalization that sparks good vibes in customers’ brains. It makes customers feel like they are being treated “as individuals and not as a homogenous group,” which Gray says creates more memorable experiences. She offers a few tips to achieve that. They include always using the customer’s name, using the same terminology as they do, and sharing something personal with them as well. “Give a little to get a little,” she says. “People are far more likely to share something personal about themselves if you share something personal first.”
Remember, genuine human connection feels good. Get that dopamine pumping.
2. Treat Feedback Like the It’s Gold (Because It Is)
Speaking of listening, let’s talk about more formal feedback.
In today’s digital world, businesses might not ever be able to interact with customers directly. Ideally, a company will have some type of omnichannel communications set in place. Customers should be able to reach out through a variety of channels and get a personalized experience.
However, what happens when a customer never contacts the company? How can a company implement that extreme personalization that wins customers’ hearts? By proactively seeking feedback from them and then using that feedback to improve customer experience.
Ask and You Shall Receive an Earful (Which is Awesome!)
First of all, make it clear that feedback in any shape and form is welcome. Then listen and listen very carefully.
“Make your customers aware that you want to hear their suggestions. This makes the customers feel like they have more say on the product instead of only having the option to leave a review. [Then] actually listen. Some of your customers might have great ways to improve the product or allow you to make a personalized experience for that individual.” (Chelsea Cohen, Co-Founder of SoStocked)
One major worry businesses have is that customers will leave negative reviews. It’s a legitimate fear as on average 19% of reviews a business receives are negative. Additionally, negative reviews can stop an average of 40% of buyers from wanting to buy from a business. (G2)
Sounds scary, yes. But wait! Data also shows that negative reviews have tremendous power.
The Good, The Bad, the Scary – It’s All Fertilizer
No one is ever perfect. So if a company has no negative reviews it raises suspicions. Additionally, it leaves the company with no possibility of future growth, which is never good for business. To grow, we need to make mistakes and use them as fertilizer, so to speak.
“Make it easy for customers to find negative reviews. This seems extremely counterintuitive, but research shows that people tend to trust businesses, organizations, and even other people more when they are completely transparent about both their good and bad sides. Why? Because when things seem too perfect, our alarm bells go off. Even though it might feel uncomfortable, make sure to feature both good and bad reviews on your website.” (Marc Lewis, General Manager, EcoWatch)
So whatever feedback customers give you – take it all. It will help improve their experience as well as create extreme personalization for future customers. Because the more you know – the better you grow.
3. Make Products Fit Customers
We all know the feeling when something fits just perfectly. It’s hard to say “no” when those shoes feel like they were made just for you or the vacation package covers your every wish. So, why not do that for your customers? Experts recommend creating variants of a product to fit every customer’s needs. Now if that’s now extreme personalization, what is?
“The one-size-fits-all solution does not apply when it comes to boosting customer satisfaction. You need to show your customers that you have been listening to them by offering variants of your product, be they different strengths, combinations, colors, comparisons, and so on.” James Edge, Founder of Crush the USMLE
Edge explains that providing choices is what satisfies customers. He gives examples such as, “a health supplement company that offers different types of Turmeric supplements, a homeware company that sells rugs in different colors, or an exam-prep company that offers a resource that students can use to compare courses.”
Another great way of finding the best fit for each customer is to create a product recommendation quiz. Customers enjoy taking quizzes when it comes to their preferences (psychology of gamification at work!) But, most importantly, the results will match customers to products, ensuring a great fit. Want to learn more about product recommendation quizzes? Check out this insightful guide from our friends at Interact.
4. Surprise Customers with Thoughtful Gifts
Everyone loves a freebie. An unexpected gift can make a customer feel appreciated and special.
“One surefire way to boost eCommerce satisfaction is to give the customers an unexpected ‘freebie’ when they make a purchase. For example, if you’re selling a website design service, you could throw in a free training for marketing an online business. It’s also helpful to note the freebie’s usual price, so they know how much value they’re getting.” Cierra Loflin, Chief Marketing Officer, Zodiac Guides
However, it’s important to remember that above all, it’s the thought that counts. While nice for a few seconds at first, thoughtless freebies lose their value faster than a car once it leaves the sales lot. When it comes to extreme personalization and making memorable experiences, thought and creativity go a long way.
Add Value in a Unique Way
Customer experience expert, Chip Bell, calls thoughtful surprises value unique. He believes these types of customer experience go a long way. Because value-unique service is so uniquely personal, it makes the customers feel very special.
“Value unique is doing something unusually different, kind of ingenious or creative and totally unexpected. It’s creating a sense of surprise. So it’s less about generosity and more about ingenuity. “ Chip Bell, Customer Experience Expert.
Getting to know customers on a personal level can help determine what type of gift would delight them the most. And you don’t have to stalk them to get the information you need, as with the right customer management tools it’s likely you already have the answer. Their order history can show their preferences. Their browsing history can tell you what they’re looking for. And if you happen to interact with them directly through live chat, email, phone, or text you can get even more personal information by, well, talking to them. Keep a record of it all and you will have no problem adding that extreme personalization to each customer’s experience.
5. Tie a Bow on the Packaging
Speaking of gifts, it’s important not to forget about the very first experience customers have with your product or service. Beautiful, carefully packaged products show care and personalization.
“When customers receive a box with their items carefully packaged in a beautiful way then they are impressed and highly satisfied. In eCommerce, the customer journey never ends with the sale. The customer has bought the item but hasn’t physically seen it. There is a moment of nervousness in between the sale and arrival of the product for first-time customers. This is why you need to ensure fast delivery and great packaging.” Ben Wallington, CEO of Designerwear
There is another reason for putting together attractive packages for eCommerce customers.
“Many people keep boxes from deliveries to store items at home or to send on as a parcel. Having your brand name on the box will extend the life of your brand in your customer’s home or create brand awareness as it travels through the postal system to friends or families’ homes,” Wallington says.
Digital products and services are no expedition. Instruction emails, presentations, files, and other elements of the onboarding process should all reflect care and personalization. If anything, the digital “bow” on a service means even more than that on a delivered product. It shows that even though a company conducts business through a screen, it remembers that its customers are not numbers but humans who can appreciate some extra care.
6. Never Have Customers Ask, “Where is My Order?”
That’s right. This question should never come up. Extreme personalization means being proactive with order updates. Go beyond order confirmation and let your customers know exactly when it’s due to arrive and where it is in the shipping and packaging process.
“Treat this experience like an Uber ride. Notify the customer about each step in the delivery process. Many companies are now taking a picture of packages on the customer’s front door and letting them know it has arrived. Visibility and communication throughout the shipping process [are so important]” Travis Turner, Director of Business Development for Hire Dynamics.
In case of digital services, be there for your customer every step of the way – from sign up, to onboarding, to continuous follow ups.
Extreme Personalization is Key to Customer Satisfaction
If there is anything companies should strive for when it comes to customer experience it’s to be memorable in customers’ minds. Competition is fierce and expectations are high. If they remember an experience, they will return for more and tell their friends about it, too. Extreme personalization fulfils the psychological need humans have to feel special. And when they do, their brains feel like they are in love. So get personal with your customers and see them fall in love with doing business with you.