Hyper-personalisation – technology vs. team
With the world of customer contact undergoing a digital revolution and the number of self-service interactions at an all-time high, consumers increasingly expect personalisation at every point in their customer journey.
However, especially during peak contact volumes, providing a consistent and personalised customer experience is challenging, and certainly not something customer contact agents can handle alone. The consequence? Long queues and a fragmented customer journey, resulting in disappointed customers, reputational damage and ultimately a negative impact on the bottom line.
So something clearly needs to change. In order to differentiate themselves from the competition and to ensure customer engagement and loyalty, companies must look for ways to become more relevant to their target audience. The question that must be asked again and again is 'what is the best next step for this customer at this very moment?'.
According to a report by McKinsey1), companies must comply with a new standard called ‘the care of one’. This means that all decision-making is focused on serving individual customers and their personal needs. We call this hyper-personalisation.
In this blog we will discuss the how and what of this new form of customer contact, and the role that the employee plays in this.
1) McKinsey: The vision for 2025: Hyperpersonalized care and ‘care of one’
But weren't we already doing a good job of segmenting our target audiences and offering targeted marketing campaigns? Certainly! But hyper-personalisation takes it a step further. It's the difference between providing relevant content through the customer's preferred channel, and having an individual conversation with each customer across all channels.
Just think of the village shop of the past. The shop keeper knew exactly what was going on in the lives of their customers, so you were always offered what you needed at that moment, sometimes before you even realised it yourself. Hyper-personalisation 'avant la lettre'.
So it's all about context. Without context around a customer's history, communication preferences such as time and channel, and up-to-date details of their experience to date, it is simply impossible to deliver a high level of personalisation.
More and more companies and organisations are using hyper-personalisation to gain customer loyalty and trust. Young people in particular are open to this, as long as it leads to relevant offers that actually benefit them.
Know your customer
The thing that is paramount when it comes to hyper-personalisation is to truly know your customer – every customer – inside out. To respond to their needs before they realises they need your product or service, and to exceed their expectations.
This starts long before the customer contacts a bot or employee. It starts as soon as they start searching online for answers. So ensure an optimal customer experience at this stage by providing a self-service solution that can be used quickly and effectively.
You can only really get to know your customer through advanced data analysis that not only examines, for example, the customer's browsing and order history, but also the time at which they usually search for a product or service, their preferred channel, their emotions during previous interactions, and trends on social media.
The customer view that results from this supports customer contact employees to take proactive action to continually surprise the customer. For example, they can preventively solve problems, make a relevant proposal, or proactively contact a customer who got stuck in a conversation with a chat or voice bot. In the latter case, make sure that the employee has a complete picture of the customer's contact history and the steps they have already gone through.
Thus, hyper-personalisation is a way to provide customised customer service by using real-time customer and behavioural data to proactively respond to customer needs. These kinds of initiatives increase customer engagement and loyalty.
Use your data
While most companies possess a wealth of data, relatively few actually do anything with it. The only way to get to know the customer through and through is by applying artificial intelligence (AI) and other tools and technologies that not only provide insight into huge amounts of customer data and interactions, but also make customer behaviour and needs predictable.
These include location-based services, advanced interaction analytics, speech recognition, predictive customer analytics, internet of things (IoT) and real-time Natural Language Processing (e.g. for detecting customer sentiment and emotions). Even though these different technologies each offer valuable insights, it is their combined use that leads to the most integral customer view.
In addition, you will need tools to support the productivity of the customer contact team. To ensure that simple actions and processes are automated, so employees can fully focus on their conversation with the customer and, thanks to the insights obtained in real time, can offer them a hyper-personalised service and thus a superior customer experience.
That obviously means an efficient contact centre platform and seamless integration with back-end systems, so employees are immediately presented with a 360-degree customer view. On the other hand, it also concerns supporting tools such as a real-time knowledge management platform and just-in-time coaching, which increase First Contact Resolution (FCR).
However, there are also pitfalls that you should be aware of. While young people in particular see the advantage of hyper-personalisation, others view it as an invasion of their privacy. It is therefore important to ensure that no one feels forced into providing personal data, and to stay within the comfort zone of each and every customer. That too is hyper-personalisation! Give them the opportunity to connect with an employee at any point in the interaction process, and approach them with empathy. Once the customer gets to know the benefits of a hyper-personalised service step by step, their confidence will increase, and they will feel more comfortable about the use of personal data that is necessary for this.
In any case, you cannot avoid GDPR and other regulations regarding privacy and data protection. In fact, this is one of the reasons that companies are increasingly dependent on customer data they have collected themselves, simply because obtaining data from third parties has been restricted.
The question is also how to make hyper-personalisation scalable. For the village shop we mentioned earlier, it only applied to a handful of customers, but running it across a customer base that spans multiple languages, cultures and demographics is a different matter. The integration of an intelligent omnichannel contact centre platform with a good CRM system and other back-end systems is essential for this. There should never be any gaps in the customer journey, because the result of this is that the customer has a completely impersonal experience with your company and will therefore drop out in most cases. In addition, the silos between the various departments must be broken down, so that one integral customer view is created that everyone has access to.
Finally, perhaps obvious to some: offering a hyper-personalised service does not mean flooding customers with 'personal' offers. Even though you have access to a wealth of information and in theory could approach every customer every day with a tailor-made proposal for a product or service: Don’t. Do. It. Because overkill kills and leads to customer churn.
Technology vs. team
Although technology is the driving force behind hyper-personalisation, it is the human customer contact employee that completes the picture. The success of a hyper-personalisation strategy is determined by the combination in which both the technology and the employee are optimally deployed. Companies that find the right balance between man and machine create customer service heroes. The technology merely serves as an extension of the human employee.
For example, if a customer becomes frustrated while interacting with a bot, this can be determined through real-time speech, voice, or sentiment analysis, after which a customer contact representative can take over. After all, supported by the right tools he is capable like no other of helping the customer with the right dose of empathy.
The step towards offering hyper-personalisation does require a new approach in the contact centre. For example, agents will no longer be able to blindly follow a call script, but will need to rely more on real-time data combined with their own creativity, empathy and logic to assist the customer optimally and personally. With the additional data and context that technology provides, agents can proactively offer support services, products, or features that help customers get more value from their purchase.
Customer contact employee 2.0
On the one hand, this means that the customer contact job will become a lot more challenging and attractive. On the other hand, the agent profile will change and there will be more demand for customer-oriented employees who think critically and are empathetic. A version 2.0 will emerge.
In addition, there will be a need for new ways to measure employee performance. Traditional KPIs, such as the number of calls answered or the average call duration, are no longer relevant in companies offering hyper-personalised service. In this case, the focus should be on how well an employee is able to deliver a relevant customer experience.
The customer contact employee 2.0 is not someone who will quickly leave the company, certainly not if he is offered relevant career opportunities. Not only opportunities within the contact centre, but also in other departments of the organisation. With more and more companies acting from the customer perspective, this type of employee, with his customer-oriented mentality, talent and mindset, is a long-term asset.
It is therefore extremely important to support these employees with the help of digital tools and real-time coaching, but to also give them the opportunity to evolve through a tailor-made education and training program, starting from day one in the contact centre. In this way, the contact centre will not only become a breeding ground for super employees who will prove valuable to the entire organisation, but also a place that attracts new talent from outside.
Would you also like to be able to offer your customers a tailor-made service and provide your employees with the tools to make every interaction hyper-personal? Then book an appointment with one of our experts now. We will be happy to help you on your way!
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