In the quest for ever-increasing efficiency, it’s easy to lose sight of a core business reality: Your customers are humans, and they still like to be treated as such.
Customer service departments certainly should leverage automation technology and work toward greater efficiency — but not in a way that frustrates customers. Instead, businesses should use technology to enhance a personalized customer service approach.
In this guide, learn personalized customer service is a top trend in customer service. Then we’ll give you nine ways to start providing more personalized customer service that you can implement right away.
What is personalized customer service?
Personalized customer service is the strategy of using individual customer information to tailor customer interactions. This information can include the customer’s name, purchase history, past support tickets, and anything else that your business might already know.
The four benefits of personalized customer service
98% of companies say that personalization increases customer loyalty and 83% of customers agree, according to a 2022 study by Twilio. Continue reading to understand why personalization is such a key aspect of delighting your customers, making it an undeniable best practice for customer support. A more personalized approach to customer support can help you:
- Meet customer expectations
- Drive more sales
- Raise customer satisfaction
- Get more consistent business and loyal customers
Meet customer expectations
Regardless of whether a customer’s chatting with human customer service agents or some automation tool like an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, nearly 70% of them want to receive personalized communications. Personalization starts with simple steps like including the customer’s first name in email correspondence. Because that’s how people communicate with each other — by name.
Fun fact: While people want personalized communication, they would rather have prompt, helpful customer service. 90% of customers expect a near-instant response to questions, according to a HubSpot survey.
The takeaway? Only use personalization if you can do some promptly.
📚 Recommended reading: Our tips to improve customer service response times and resolution times.
Drive more sales
Personalization matters for another crucial reason: It makes potential customers more likely to place an order. As many as 80% of respondents to an Epsilon/GBH survey indicated they were more likely to make a purchase after a personalized message than a non-personalized one.
For example, imagine a customer asks a video game distributor’s customer support team which game they should get for their child for Christmas. Without personalization, you’d either have to ask follow-up questions or provide a generic recommendation. With customer data, however, you might be able to:
- Greet the customer by name
- See the customer’s previous orders to know whether their child has a Playstation, Nintendo, or X-Box
- See the customer’s location and tell them the last day they can place an order to receive it by Christmas
- See the customer’s 5-star review of the last game they purchased to offer a more tailored recommendation
This is just a short list of potential ways to personalize a message, but it’s clear that personalization offers the best customer experience and gives the customer a much shorter path to a confident purchase.
Joseph Piazza, Senior Customer Experience Manager at messenger bike bag brand Timbuk2 says it best: “Increased customer support should go hand in hand with revenue growth. We want to turn customer experience into a profit center.”
Raise customer satisfaction
Personalized customer service greets your customers quickly and personally. It also reduces the time to problem resolution because your customer service agents have better information at the point of first contact.
Absolute Collagen saw firsthand how fast, personalized service can raise customer satisfaction (CSAT) to near-perfect levels (4.9/5), thanks to mitigating non-personalized “pre-determined, pre-scripted” responses:
Lead to consistent business and loyal customers
When businesses improve their customer service efforts through personalization, they typically see an increase in brand loyalty. HubSpot found that 93% of customers were more likely to return as repeat customers at businesses they categorized as having an excellent customer service experience.
Customer retention doesn’t just lead to more repeat business. A loyal customer base also leaves reviews, refers new customers through word of mouth, and places larger orders than new customers. That’s why repeat customers generate 300% more revenue than first-time shoppers.
📈 Want to gauge the impact of your customer support? Read our take on the importance of customer service and check out our guide to customer service ROI.
9 tips to provide personalized customer service at scale
Providing excellent personalized customer service can seem overwhelming for many businesses, especially during periods of rapid growth. It’s true that developing a comprehensive personalization strategy takes resources and effort, but there are all sorts of simple ways to start transitioning to a more personalized approach:
- Proactively reach out before a customer even needs support
- Mention specifics in customer messages
- Use customer data to inform the support you provide
- Unify conversations in one platform
- Employ an omnichannel approach
- Use social media to your advantage
- Create low-effort experiences
- Ask for feedback
- Prioritize requests in order of importance or urgency
1) Offer proactive support
Proactive customer service anticipates when customers might need assistance, and offers help before they reach out. For example, some brands use proactive support as part of their marketing strategy. They might use an automated live chat pop-up to share product recommendations, offer to answer questions or help new customers make a purchase, or share that a live chat support option is available, should they need it.
Proactive support has many forms, like providing self-service resources like an FAQ page to answer repetitive questions or help with common pain points. It also might be an email that says “Can I help you with anything?” Offering help before people need it feels infinitely more personal than forcing the user to comb the website and find the right contact information.
Proactive support helped Gorgias customer Loop Earplugs increase their revenue by 43% with pre-sales flows. “When customers get a quick and honest answer, they often end up buying more than one product in a short span of time,” says Customer Service Manager Milan Vanmarcke.
The first step towards implementing a proactive strategy of your own is to take a look at past customer conversations and look for common threads. Once you identify your most frequently asked questions, create an FAQ page with them. Be sure to link to any policies you have as well, like shipping, returns, exchanges, and where folks can reach out to get more help if needed.
📚Recommended reading: Our complete guide on proactive customer service.
2) Mention specifics in customer messages
There’s a reason that car salespeople learn prospective customers’ first names within the first few seconds of an encounter. It’s a science-backed approach that builds trust and familiarity.
Using specifics like a customer’s name or last order number goes a long way toward making the customer feel trust for your brand. It also shows that you’re listening, that you care, and that you have accurate information in front of you. Though this type of approach can be more time consuming, using templates with dynamic variables can help. Plus, it’ll lessen the need to go back and forth with customers to get that information in the first place.
Consider signing up for a centralized helpdesk. Some helpdesks allow you to use templates with dynamic fields that pull in customer data like tracking information or the date their recent order shipped. On Gorgias, these templates are called Macros, and you can use them throughout your communication channels, on chat, or via email.
3) Use customer data to inform support
As you work to further customize your approach, refine the way you use the customer data you already have from your other ecommerce tools to inform the kind of care you provide.
Analyzing data from your CRM (customer relationship management system) can help you identify trends and common issues. This data can help you find common questions that are better handled via a FAQ or knowledge base, or that can be generated through automated chatbots or emails, saving your CS teams and your customers time.
Take a look at the demographic information you have about your audience to learn more about what might be most important to them. Use metrics like CSAT to understand how your support is performing, or retention numbers to see how many customers make second and third purchases, especially after requesting support.
How Gorgias can help
With a helpdesk like Gorgias, you can use integrations to pull customer data from different resources. Pull loyalty information from LoyaltyLion, get insight into reviews from Yotpo, or get marketing data from Klaviyo.
This type of information can aid in your personalization efforts by providing further insights into how customers are feeling and what kind of support they’re looking for. For example, you might find some negative reviews and be able to send those customers a follow up email to see how you can help.
4) Unify your conversations in one platform
Personalization at scale requires the use of tools that keep your customer data safe, centralized, and accessible so that agents can answer questions with a consistently high level of care.
Unifying all your customer touchpoints in one helpdesk platform lets reps see all past interactions and information, so they avoid asking customers to repeat themselves. They’ll be able to see information like past order history, returns, past support conversations and resolutions, and how long someone has been a customer.
That’s been a key differentiator for Gorgias customer Absolute Collagen. "We hear all the time in a Facebook group or on the phone how much customers trust us because they know we'll get back to them and resolve the issue quickly,” says founder Maxine Laceby. “It's a real point of difference for us that our customer service team can do that. And the reason they can do that is that all of our channels are in one place."
How Gorgias can help
Gorgias is an all-in-one platform for ecommerce merchants looking to improve their customer service and helpdesk functions, from chatbot-like menus to customer self-service. It’s the perfect place for DTC ecommerce brands to start scaling their personalization efforts and drive more revenue.
5) Employ an omnichannel approach
Customers want to interact with your brand in different ways, and an omnichannel approach to customer support takes customers’ preferences into account. By offering support across all channels, like social media, email, phone, live chat, and SMS, you can better meet customers where they are and give support on their terms.
To do this effectively, you’ll need to ensure that all of your channels connect (a helpdesk like Gorgias will do this for you). And, that you have a support strategy for each channel.
Unifying platforms into one place helped the team at Lillie's Q, a shop that sells authentic Southern barbecue sauces and rubs, offer a true omnichannel experience to its customers. Before using Gorgias as its centralized helpdesk, messages on different platforms were getting passed manually to customer support, a tedious task with a big room for error.
"We received comments and questions from Instagram and Facebook, organic and paid. Our digital content manager was passing a lot of these questions and comments on to our customer service team before we were with Gorgias," says Nicole Mann, the Marketing Director at Lillie’s Q.
📚Recommended reading: Check out our guide to omnichannel customer service.
6) Use social media to your advantage
Support requests come into social media channels for many reasons. For example, angry customers might send a direct message or comment on a post because it feels more immediate, especially if a brand is active. Or, they could respond to a post asking for more information about a featured product they’d like to purchase.
Whatever the reason, people spend 147 minutes on social media per day, which means that by offering support there, you’re able to engage with people directly within the apps where they already spend time. This also allows you to engage with people in positive ways by sharing relevant content with them, posting packing videos of their orders to make them feel special, or reposting a picture of them using your products in real life.
7) Create low-effort experiences
According to The Effortless Experience, only 4% of customers who had a high-effort customer support experience will return to make another purchase from that brand.
When a customer decides to contact support, they’re already likely a little bit frustrated to have to put in any effort at all. But actions like having to go back and forth with a support agent to give simple information like order numbers, shipping address, or email can increase the time it takes to get a resolution.
This effort increases with the amount of time it takes for the agents to respond each time, and whether support even responds at all the first time a shopper reaches out. These high-effort experiences ignore the customers’ needs, which drives disloyalty and can make a big impact on revenue long term.
Self-serve resources or automated responses can get people an immediate response, which means a lot less effort for them, and takes the burden off of your team.
"We realize the impact of building relationships and trust with our customers,” says Caela Castillo, the Director of Customer Experience at jewelry shop Jaxxon. “Quick Response Flows help us do that by allowing us to provide a customer experience that meets expectations and drives lifetime value (LTV) up per customer."
Other options include using a centralized system that shows a customer’s information all in one place, eliminating the need for timely back and forth.
8) Ask for feedback
Customer feedback is valuable data collection for your customer service team. It can help you provide more personalized support based on the information you get.
All you have to do is make it easy for your customers to provide feedback, and take action on the notes you do receive, especially if they cite negative experiences.
A quick way to ask for feedback is to send an email survey that takes less than 2 minutes to fill out. A simple star rating on the experience and comment box should be enough to give you some valuable insight into where you can improve.
📚Recommended reading: Our Director of Support’s guide to collecting customer feedback from your helpdesk.
9) Prioritize customer service requests
Prioritize customer service requests to provide faster, more bespoke service to VIP customers. With customer acquisition becoming more costly and time consuming, keeping existing, loyal customers around can produce more revenue for your business overall.
These customers, especially those with a high lifetime value, should get your most real-time support. Other high-priority conversations include very angry customers and time-sensitive requests.
A helpdesk can help you assign value to tickets, and bring the most urgent ones in front of agents so that they can treat them with high priority.
The challenges of offering personalized service
Most businesses would agree that personalizing interactions is wise. But we all know from numerous personal encounters with airlines, warranty call centers, and maybe even healthcare providers that personalized customer service is far from universal. Many businesses have yet to find a way to successfully bring that personal touch, tailoring their efforts to the individual customer — especially at scale.
Local and small businesses tend to have an easier time offering personalized customer service because they have fewer customers. Think of a local coffee shop or boutique retail outlet that sees regular, repeat traffic: Staff at stores like these tend to learn their customers’ names and preferences and can offer a level of service that big-box stores can’t match.
Digital-first businesses and large ecommerce brands can’t develop these in-person relationships so they need an alternative approach to offer personalized experiences. Specifically, they need tech solutions that collect and use customer data. This means storing customer data in customer relationship management (CRM) software, surfacing that data throughout the customer journey, and implementing it in smart ways.
Deliver world-class personalized customer service faster than ever with Gorgias
If you’re ready to offer personalized customer service, the right tools will help you get there. Gorgias empowers ecommerce businesses to deliver world-class personalized customer service and helpdesk services faster than ever, thanks to deep integrations with Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce — plus dozens of other ecommerce tools — to put customer data front-and-center.
Book your demo to learn more about how Gorgias can transform your customer support into a revenue-generating machine.