Brand Preview 2019: Make it personal
To create a customer experience that stands out in a crowded, noisy and chaotic environment, you need to make it personal. Creating a customer experience that is focused on the specific needs and desires of your target audience will give you a competitive advantage in 2019.
The challenges in 2019
There are always challenges and opportunities for a business, but each year provides a unique set of circumstances that frame them. The ability of a business to adapt to these circumstances will determine whether 2019 is considered a success. Many factors will influence how well each business responds, but the importance of your brand – your ability to communicate effectively – shouldn’t be overlooked.
In a series of posts, I’ve identified three key issues to consider. The final one is the customer experience, and how to make it personal.
What is ‘customer experience’?
At this point it’s worth considering what the ‘customer experience’ is. It’s not what it’s like to use your product or service. It’s not using your website. And it’s not what your logo looks like or what people say about your company on social media. Your customer experience is all of these things, and every other interaction they have with you. It’s everything they see, hear or read about your business – whether that message comes from you, their friends or the media.
The quality of your customer experience will dictate the success of your business. So understanding how to influence that experience is a valuable asset for an ambitious business.
What’s fundamental to your customer experience, and your ability to make it personal, is harnessing the two factors we’ve already discussed in this Brand Preview: understanding what makes you different and how to make good use of your data. The more you understand about your customer, the more easily you will be able to explain to them what makes you different.
Why the customer experience is important
We live in a technology-driven culture of convenience. Platforms like Netflix, Spotify and Amazon have revolutionised the customer experience, by making it highly personal. This has completely changed consumer expectations of what constitutes a ‘good’ customer experience.
While it might not be the same in the business to business sector, that will change over the next 12 months. It’s true that much of this change in expectation is driven by the technology giants, with access to skills and resources beyond most businesses. But the continuing evolution of apps and plug-ins will see the technology “trickle down” to smaller businesses. This will allow them to develop their customer experience and make it more personal.
Creating the customer experience
We have already highlighted that the customer experience is not a single activity or event, but a combination of many factors. What we want to focus on in this document are two of those factors – your communication and your product or service.
Your communication is important because this is often where the customer experience will begin – and it’s an essential tool for maintaining that relationship over time. The product or service is important because it’s usually the focal point of the customer experience. It is, after all, the reason your customers spent their money with you. So how can you make the most of these two opportunities?
The easiest way to make your communication more personal is to put the persons name on it. The first handwritten letter was recorded in 500 BC, from the Persian Queen, Atossa. Using someone’s first name in a letter or email is nothing new. But the implementation of GDPR has left many companies mourning their lost database, and the potential it held. A survey by Accenture estimates that companies have, on average, lost up to 75% of their database.
But the reality is, with an industry-average open rate of 2% on email marketing, this might not be such a great loss. Companies have traded quantity for quality. The names left on these lists have a genuine interest in the products or services you offer, so they are far more valuable to you. You should be able to enjoy a much better return on your investment of resources.
Understanding what’s important to your customers
However, to make your communication personal in 2019, you will need to do more than use someone’s first name. It’s not enough to simply catch someone’s attention. You need to hold it. That is why the content of your message is so important. The secret to this is relevance. Your content needs to mean something to your audience. It needs to address something they care about. Something they value.
You can only do this if you understand your audience. This is about more than knowing their name, or where they live, or what they’ve bought from you before. It’s not enough to know what they’ve done in the past. You need to understand what they want in the future, and how you can deliver that to them.
Customer experience – some examples
This is where understanding how your products and services fulfil the needs and aspirations of your customers is so important. A great example to share is Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign, launched in the UK in 2013. Coca-Cola took 1,000 of the UK’s most popular names and printed them on their labels. The marketing campaign encouraged customers to ‘share a Coke’.
The campaign created a double benefit for Coca-Cola. The personalised product had a unique appeal, which differentiated it from the competition. But by focusing on the idea of ‘sharing’, it created a different – more personal – customer experience around the product. Few companies have got the resources to personalise individual products. But it highlighted the benefit of focusing on the customer experience and finding a way to make it personal.
Another interesting example of how to create a more personal customer experience is Hiut Denim. Based in Cardigan, in Wales, Hiut Denim make Jeans. They’re not a quantity business, they’re a quality business. They have a small team of ‘Grandmasters’, who responsible for making the jeans, stitching each element together. Every pair that’s made is signed – inside – by the Grandmaster that made them. As a result, every pair is personalised, and so is the experience of owning them.
Customer experience – your next step
The idea of personalising your customer experience in 2019, might seem like a concept that’s beyond your resources – a concept that depends on technology and resources. But in reality, the key to success is focus. For any strategy to work you need to be clear who your target audience is. Then it’s a question of identifying how you can influence their experience. It could be as simple as a personal letter, taking the time to engage with customers on social media or making a change to the way your service is delivered.
What personalisation will look like for each business in the next twelve months will vary, but the value of it will not. If you want to benefit, take a look at your customer experience and make it personal.
Get in touch
If you would like to create a great customer experience in 2019, drop us an email. It would be great to hear from you!
Photo by DanDrew Photography on Unsplash