Mixing Business and Personal: What Is Personalized Communication and Why Is It Important?
If there’s one thing that’s clear in our Global Customer Engagement Report 2022, it’s that people want and expect businesses to do a better job of communicating with them. A key part of making that happen — and hopefully turning customers into loyal, enthusiastic advocates — is personalization.
What Is Personalization?
While it depends on the communication channel, how it’s being used, and other factors, personalized communication generally means taking a piece of content or a customer interaction and making it more useful for a customer or prospect, more targeted at their interests, needs, and preferences — serving them exactly what they’re looking for right when they’re looking for it.
Our 11th annual Global Customer Engagement Report (GCER) shows that 60% of people are “very satisfied” with their communication with close friends and family, yet only 45% feel the same way about communicating with businesses. For the most part, the channels are the same — phone calls, texts, chats, video. And the goals are essentially the same — to share or receive information. But that satisfaction gap exists, perhaps largely, because of a lack of effective personalization in business communications.
It’s important to note that personalization isn’t just outward-facing. It goes beyond how you talk to customers to include how you listen to them.
Advanced analytics that incorporate tools like AI and machine learning make it possible to better manage the barrage of customer data that flows into a company from multiple channels — and then use that information to add specific messaging to their marketing that will click with individual customers.
Why Is Personalized Communication Important?
In the classic film “The Godfather,” there’s an especially dramatic moment when Michael is accused by his brother of letting his feelings get in the way of the family’s nefarious operations. Michael’s response: “It’s not personal, Sonny — it’s strictly business.” But when it comes to communicating with customers, that separation doesn’t work. Business should be personal — or at least more personal than it has been.
While there are limits to just how personal personalization can be, companies can definitely benefit by consistently delivering interactions that have, at the very least, a human touch. In fact, according to a 2021 BCG report, companies that deliver more personalized customer campaigns can increase sales by 6% to 10%. And continuing that personalization post-sale can also lead to longer customer lifecycles and better value per customer through increased upsells and renewals. What’s more, 80% of people say they are likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences.
Why Customers Prefer Businesses That Provide Personalized Experiences
People prefer businesses that offer a personal touch — that don’t look at them as just an account number or sales opportunity, but as a human being — for a number of reasons:
It demonstrates that the business is more likely to deliver exactly what they want
It signals that the business will be more responsive when they have a question
It shows that the business will anticipate their needs, and proactively suggest products or services that fulfill those needs
It reduces the amount of information customers are bombarded with every day — only targeted, relevant info tends to come their way
There’s a genuine, pleasant feeling that’s generated when customers receive something that isn’t generic or run-of-the-mill
According to a recent McKinsey report, customers associate personalization with being made to feel special, and they respond positively when a company demonstrates that it’s invested in the relationship and not just the transaction. How positively? Seventy-eight percent of people said a personalized communication would make them more likely to buy again from that company. Simple moves like checking in post-purchase, sending a how-to video, or asking consumers to write a review can boost perceptions of your brand.
What Are the Benefits of Personalized Communication With Customers?
You can sum up the benefits of effective personalization in one word: loyalty. McKinsey points out that personalization is especially adept at driving repeat engagement. Those recurring interactions give you more chances to delight your customers, which generates more successful interactions, which builds more loyalty. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Loyal customers talk you up. According to our GCER, 58% of people will spread the word to friends and family after a good customer experience, 57% will provide positive feedback on a survey, and 34% will post their pleasure online or on social media.
They come back for more. In the McKinsey report, personalization was shown to be especially effective at driving repeat engagement and loyalty over time: “Over three-quarters of consumers (76 percent) said that receiving personalized communications was a key factor in prompting their consideration of a brand, and 78 percent said such content made them more likely to repurchase.”
They provide valuable data. Every interaction with a customer — and every time a customer offers a positive response on a survey or spreads the good word in social media — gives you information about that customer that can be used to create more personalized communication. Data management and personalization go hand in hand, giving you the ability to gather and analyze all this valuable input.
And they can boost your bottom line. Salesforce has reported that 97% of marketers saw an increase in business outcomes due to personalized communication, and in another study, 51% said personalization actress multiple touchpoints increased ROI by 300% or more.
What Are the Steps to Being More Personal With Customers?
There are a number of ways a company can inject more personalization into their communications — or get more out of what they already have in place. Here are a few:
Let them do it themselves (if they want). There are times when customers have simple questions for which they expect immediate, simple answers. Offering self-help options can save time for customers and free up your employees to handle more complex issues. And if the customer wants to talk to an agent, they can.
Give customers channel choices. As the GCER reveals, customers are looking for omnichannel experiences — the results show that one-third of customers plan to do more business over multiple channels, including mobile phones, voice and messaging apps, email, and social media, in the next 12 months. Customers have a favorite channel they want to reach you through and/or they want the option to switch to other channels as needed.
And don’t forget social media. Sending messages to businesses. Receiving offers and notifications from businesses. Posting positive (or negative) reviews. For these and other activities, social media continues to grow in popularity.
Connect customers to the right agent. 61% of consumers surveyed listed being unable to talk to the person best suited to answer their question as either extremely or very frustrating. A tool like AI-assisted dynamic routing can ensure that customers are connected to the right agent, increasing first-call resolution.
Give agents the story before they even pick up the phone. Everybody knows that having to repeat your personal information or describe your issue over and over is a huge pain, especially if it's a recurring problem. Adding context to the mix can be a huge win.
Train employees to be customer-centric. Whether it’s a contact center agent or a regular employee answering the phone, tools like call monitoring, call recording, speech analytics, and more can help ensure they’re providing a positive, winning experience to your customers.
Let’s Get Personal (Communication)
When you consider that companies that excel at personalization generate 40 percent more revenue from those efforts than average players, it’s clear that delivering personalized communication — and doing it well — grows more important every day.
Are you ready to offer truly engaging, consistent personalized communication to your customers? Check out Vonage’s Unified Communications, Contact Center, Communications APIs, and Conversational Commerce solutions to see how they can help you create business interactions that are closer to what customers expect from their friends and family — in other words, more “Hi Bob,” less “Dear Sir.”