Personalization is key to Customer Delight

One size does not fit all. This holds true for clothiers and marketers alike.

Every individual is unique and wants different things. The one size fits all approach simply doesn’t work, especially when dealing with customers who come with expectations of varied levels like a color palette that pops up on Microsoft Word. Sometimes, these expectations are met & some other times, there is a gap. But, to be able to delight the customer, brands need to meet all of their expectations and rise above them.

Customers like to feel in control (There’s even a study to prove this fact). Passive consumption just doesn’t cut it anymore — they feel a need to be co-creators of their individual experiences. Personalization, thus becomes a key factor in shaping that experience.

Personalization helps them cut through the information overload and find offerings that are just right for them. Instead of expending time and effort evaluating multiple choices, they can immediately zero in on an almost-bespoke product or service, or customize it to their tastes.

Personalization is no longer the future of marketing. It’s already here to stay.

It is the cornerstone of business for some companies. Dell, for instance, has always allowed customers to “build” their computers in accordance with their needs and preferences, Starbucks gives free coffee and goodies to customers on their birthdays, and the owner of your local convenience store knows your first name and what products you usually buy.

The arrival of Web 2.0 has given marketing the extraordinary possibilities to make interaction more personalized than ever before. Sites like eBay and Amazon use your past purchases and searches as an indicator of what you might want to buy today. Netflix suggests what movies you should consider watching.

The importance of personalization has not escaped brick-and-mortar businesses too.

Iconic hotel brand Ritz Carlton has implemented the Customer Loyalty Anticipation Satisfaction System (CLASS) at every hotel it operates. The system lets hotel staff take note of customer preferences both evident and barely noticeable, such as a preference for a certain newspaper or a certain brand of mineral water. This veritable treasure trove of information ensures that a customer who loved his Chardonnay at the Ritz Carlton, Atlanta is offered a magnum of Australia’s best, compliments of the house, when he checks into the Ritz Carlton, Sydney. Delight delivered and a lifetime of patronage achieved.

Go beyond fulfilling your customers’ needs — delight them with the unexpected, or at least show them that you care for all their needs, small or large, stated or unstated. Here’s how you could go about it.

  1. Be observant: There’s so much insight you can draw from an otherwise-humdrum interaction with your customer. Note what their preferences are, so you can serve them better next time. As time goes by, you’ll very soon start realizing that the varied expectations of your customers are actually not so varied after all.
  2. Know them better: Visiting you should not be a chore. Strike up a conversation with your customers. Learn and address them by their first names, get to know them better and become as much of a friend as you can be.
  3. Delight them: Make them feel special! A gift on their birthdays, tailor-made offers, the occasional gratis service…it all goes towards delighting a customer who will come to love you.

To quote Jim Tierney of Loyalty360, “Marketers that successfully deliver customer experiences are that much closer to the goal of brand advocacy and customer trust.” (Read his article here).

If you’re cognizant of the fact that your customers come in many a shape and size with different expectations, you’re already halfway to delivering customer experiences par excellence! Break the mould with each new customer and deliver delight at every opportunity.

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