January 31, 2024

15 Steps to Delivering Radically Personal Customer Service

Make every customer feel like 1 in a million with these 15 radically personal service ideas.


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You Know Me. You Really Know Me.

Imagine walking into your favorite shoe store. You pick up that limited edition sneaker you’ve had your eye on the past week, and look around for some help getting your size. You smile at Anne — you met her last week when she helped your son into his first ever pair of big-boy sneakers. Anne makes her way over to you, and with a warm, inviting smile on her face, greets you with a “Hey, can I get your case number?”

It’s a far-fetched scenario we’ve painted there, we know. But it’s the kind of jarring experience most customers go through when they reach out for support outside of your store — whether it’s over the phone, on live chat, email, or social media. At the end of the day, this isn’t because of any lack of skill of your contact center agents; it really comes down to the technology.

More specifically, it comes down to the customer service platforms that agents use which make it hard for them to see who a customer is. The key details about a customer that are integral to building rapport — their name, what they last spoke to you about, what their last purchase was — are spread across a span of tickets, platforms or order management systems. Which means agents are left without the context and social cues that make an in-person interaction so much easier to personalize and build relationships on. In today’s crowded market, a personal, personalized experience isn’t just about a friendlier welcome for your customers — it’s become the difference between whether they shop from you or your competitors.

In this guide, we’ll explore 15 actionable ways you can deliver a radically personal experience for your customers.

Show Your Customers You Know Them

Your customers don’t expect you to know everything about them the first time they shop with you — that would more likely than not creep them out. But the more they shop from and interact with you, the more they expect you to remember who they are. In fact, being able to recognize your customer and their history with you not only makes them feel valued, but also makes for a more seamless, effortless experience they’ll love you for.

Greet Them By Name

Think about that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you walk into your favorite coffee place and the barista greets you by name, and has your order going as soon as you walk in. It’s that feeling of being remembered and valued that keeps you going back.

Make customers feel less anonymous, and more a part of your brand’s ‘tribe,’ by greeting them by name whenever they reach out — and without having to ask them for it over and again — by leveraging a customer service platform that can immediately associate a customer’s phone number or email address with your existing customer records.

Remember What They Tell You

Customer expectations today are high — but they’re far from unreasonable. They’re just looking for the same experience they have when communicating in their personal lives to be reflected in their experience with your brand. For example, when talking to friends and family, a plan to meet up for dinner can start over the phone, be polished up over SMS, and then finalized over email, all without them having to repeat and rehash past conversations each time they switch to a new channel. Customers today expect the same ‘memory’ from companies when it comes to the interactions they have with them.

Help customers save their breath — and some frustration — by giving your agents quick, easy access to a customer’s past communications with you. Having a customer service platform that can aggregate all those communications into a single view — regardless of whether they took place on different channels, or a week apart — rather than making your agents search for and manually collate them across multiple tickets or platforms means your customers not only skip the recap, but can get helped faster.

Put the onus on yourself, not your customers. When’s the last time you knew your order or flight confirmation number by heart? Finding that information usually means combing through pages of emails, or having to log into your online accounts. Take a load off of your customers by putting the responsibility on your shoulders instead — after all, that’s information you should already have. But just be careful that this doesn’t result in a slower experience for your customers.

Notice The (Big) Little Things

Your customers trust you with a lot of information about themselves — from filling out their birth date in your reward programs, or sharing the date of their wedding anniversary while in conversation with your agents. Use that information to surprise your customers and make them feel special. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a huge gesture; even the smallest of actions make a big difference

Put a smile on your customers’ faces with an unexpected gesture. It could be as simple as wishing them Happy Birthday at the start of a chat, or having a bottle of their favorite champagne waiting for them in their hotel room on their anniversary. Make it simple for your agents to leverage that information in the moment by collating and surfacing it into one easy-to-reference space (one your agents can update easily when things change, or they find out something new).

Build Rapport and Relationships

Customers who feel emotionally connected to a brand are more than twice as valuable, on a lifetime value basis, as your highly satisfied customers. And while that connection can take many forms, when it comes to customer service, it’s about building a sense of familiarity and belonging between your brand and your customers.

Turn Agents Into Trusted Advisors

Delivering a radically personal customer experience means making your customers feel valued and cared for. So leverage the natural talent your agents have to be empathetic, trusted advisors to your customers, there to help turn every issue into a solution.

Make recommendations that make your customers feel known. These recommendations can be based on what they’ve purchased from you in the past, or the promotions or product updates they’ve signed up for. Tailored recommendations not only make your customers feel known, but make them more likely to purchase from you again in the future. And again, make it easy for your agents to see all that information quickly, so they can weave it into their conversation naturally and without added effort.

Think of your agents as salespeople, and train them the same way. Imagine if a customer wanted to purchase a pair of shoes that’s now out of stock — rather than stop the conversation right there, a highly-trained agent could recommend another pair in a similar style. Hypothetically, they could also advise that they tend to run half a size bigger than average. That’s service that’s helpful to your customers, and your bottom line too.

Give every customer a concierge-like experience by automatically routing your customers to the same agent each time — or as far as possible. This encourages familiarity and rapport, and also gives your customers reassurance that they’re talking to someone who understands their history. As an added bonus, it also makes them feel like they have their very own personal concierge.

Deliver a V.V.I.P experience to your V.I.P customers. And speaking of personal concierges, while you obviously want all your customers to feel like VIPs, there’s a significant advantage to be gained from delivering an extra-special experience to your top-tier customers. Look for a platform that can help your agents deliver a red carpet experience that sets your brand apart. Being able to route a VIP customer to their dedicated concierge — without the need for bespoke phone numbers or email addresses that are a hassle to remember — or allowing them to easily jump the queue (even when they’re calling your general line), are practical but impressive means of making your VIP customers feel truly important to your brand.

Give your agents the freedom to do what they do best. You want what’s best for your customers, so it’s really tempting to be really prescriptive about how your agents respond to your customers. But trusting your agents to do what’s best in the moment, and empowering them to act on their instincts, can lead to moments of magic that make a lasting impression, and help you build a lasting relationship with your customers.

Act Natural

Your customer experience is more than just the sale. It’s about how your customer perceives the experience at every touchpoint they have with your brand — that includes your corporate messaging, your website, and your support experience too. While you might make them fall in love with you through your marketing, it’s key to bring that same messaging and experience through to your support too, to ensure your customers stay engaged with your brand.

Ditch the ‘reply above this line’ emails. You work hard at making your brand feel human and relatable to your customers, whether on your website, in-store, or your marketing. Bring that across to your support experience too by training your agents on your voice brand guidelines. And ditch the technical jargon in your emails — like ‘don’t reply above this line’ or ‘your ticket has been updated’; they only serve to confuse your customers and detract from the relatable, human feel you’ve worked so hard at bringing across every other aspect of your brand.

Meet your customers wherever they want to be. Like you, your customers are always on the go. And that means they might need to switch from an email to a phone call, mid-conversation, or use more than one channel at the same time (eg. texting a picture of their issue while on a phone call with an agent). Give your customers the freedom to choose the channel (or channels) they want, without sacrificing the quality or speed of service — even if a customer switches channel midway, they should still be able to speak to the same agent. And your agents should also be able to easily see every communication your customer makes, across every channel, even if it’s happening at the same time.

Be Radically Efficient

Delivering radically personal service shouldn’t come at the expense of speed — in fact, it demands it. Shave seconds off of the everyday tasks in your contact center, and use that time to take the extra steps that set you apart from your competition.

Automate It

There are a lot of rote, mundane tasks in the day-to-day of a contact center that take up a sizeable chunk of your agent’s time. Think about how to automate those processes so your agents can spend more time delivering next-level service to your customers.

Leave routing to the machines. Let your platform take on the complicated, time-consuming job of deciding who a customer is assigned to and when. Look for a platform with an intelligent routing system that assigns work based on how close a customer is to their SLA, or according to their specific needs or attributes (eg. routing them to a dedicated concierge if they’re a VIP customer, or skipping them to the front of the queue if they’re booked on a flight that’s taking off soon). That way agents and supervisors are freed up to focus on the more important things.

Help agents stay on task by keeping extraneous work off their plates. If an inbound communication doesn’t need a response (because it’s spam, or a simple thank you from a customer for a job well done), ensure that they’re not routed to an agent, but automatically closed out or rerouted to a spam folder.

Save your agents precious time and keystrokes. Each day brings hundreds of customer requests to a contact center. And a lot of the time, they tend to be about the same thing, like questions on your delivery timings or return policies. Look for options that help cut down on the time agents spend answering the more basic questions your contact center faces — like a self-service solution for customers who’d rather search for answers or themselves. Or an AI-enabled customer service solution that can automatically suggest the answer an agent should use from your company’s knowledge base, or the right topic to disposition an issue with.

Streamline Efforts

Efficient, streamlined processes are key to helping your agents stay on top of customer requests. Being able to eradicate duplication of work, or unnecessary wastage of efforts, means agents can spend their time doing the important work of helping your customers fast, and with a personal touch.

Break down your data silos and integrate your systems with the customer service platforms your agents use. Gathering all the key data about a customer — from their last order numbers, pending purchases, or loyalty numbers — into one space for an agent means your agents won’t have to toggle between multiple platforms and systems to get the information they need to help your customers. Which means they can get to helping them faster.

Think ‘conversations,’ not ‘tickets’. Your customers might reach out to you over a range of channels — over days, weeks, or even months. When those communications are separated across multiple tickets, you run the risk of agents duplicating their efforts if those tickets get routed to different agents. Besides the inefficient use of resources, it also makes your brand seem disjointed, and increases the risk of your customer getting conflicting advice. Look for a customer service platform that threads all your customers’ communications into a single conversation — instead of spread across multiple tickets — that always gets routed to a single agent to handle. That way, you reduce the risk of this inadvertent waste of time and resources.

“We cut our backlog by 93% in less than 3 weeks.”

For fabric and crafts retailer JOANN, their mission to help customers find their ‘creative happy place’ means more than just providing a one-stop-shop for crafting supplies; it means being a source of guidance and inspiration for their customers as they pursue their passion.

But being that guide to their hundreds and thousands of customers was taking a toll, with JOANN’S contact center battling a considerable backlog of customer requests. According to JOANN’s Director of Operations and CX, Drew Chamberlain, much of that backlog was due to their customers reaching out on multiple channels to follow up about the same issue — for example, if they didn’t get a timely response on email, they’d reach out again over the phone.

And that meant an ever-increasing backlog that was hard to narrow.

But within 3 weeks of implementing customer service platform Gladly, JOANN was able to reduce that backlog by 93%. Much of that was due to the fact that instead of separating those multiple inbound communications by customers into separate tickets, Gladly threaded them into a single conversation — which meant agents could respond to customers in one go, rather than over multiple tickets.

“You could send me three emails and three different team members might respond to each one,” explains Drew. “Now one team member can respond to you. They can build that relationship with you. They have a history of any interactions that they or other team members may have had and can really give you the experience that you need and are looking for. Not only did that cut down on our backlog of emails…but we also found that our call volume reduced significantly (because fewer customers were calling to check on their issue).”

By reducing the unnecessary duplication of work, JOANN’s team was not only able to respond to customers faster and close their backlog, but deliver a faster, more personalized experience.

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