In today’s highly competitive business world, the importance of customer experience cannot be overstated. Companies that prioritize delivering personalized interactions are better positioned to enhance customer satisfaction and retention and ultimately drive business growth. The 2023 Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report highlights some of the key trends in this area and underscores the value of personalized experiences in improving customer engagement.
Driving Customer Engagement
One of the most important takeaways from the report is that customers are increasingly expecting more personalized interactions with businesses. In fact, over 80% of customers say that they are more likely to do business with companies that provide customized experiences. This means that businesses that are able to deliver personalized interactions, such as tailored product recommendations or proactive messages, are more likely to build long-term relationships with their customers.
The importance of personalized interactions is further highlighted by the fact that nearly 70% of customers say that they have switched brands due to a lack of personalization. This underscores the fact that delivering personalized experiences is not just a nice-to-have feature but rather a crucial factor in driving customer loyalty.
Shifts in Consumer Behavior
I spoke recently with Jon Aniano, Senior Vice President of Product for CRM Applications at Zendesk, about the Zendesk report and what’s on the horizon for Zendesk. Jon explained, “The world of great customer experiences always follows consumer behavior changes.”
He emphasized that over the last decade, there has been a dramatic transformation to messaging as the dominant form of communication. He noted that when he recognized that he was interacting with his grandmother more over Facebook Messenger than by phone, he realized that there was a massive culture shift in how we communicate. Many people prefer SMS, WhatsApp, or Apple Messages, and that is a human behavior change from how we interacted 5 or 10 years ago.
“Now, people expect to communicate with businesses in the same way. Sounds simple,” he said. “But translating messaging experiences between friends and family into great customer service experiences is challenging. There are high expectations for not only immediate responses from a business, but also for rich experiences that empower the customer to easily find answers on their own.”
The Zendesk report also highlights the value of proactively engaging with customers. By anticipating customer needs and reaching out before they even have a chance to raise an issue, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and prevent potential problems from escalating. This is where the new proactive messages feature introduced by Zendesk can be particularly valuable. For example, Zendesk customer Spartan Race found that customers were 60% more likely to purchase a race if an agent reached out proactively to address any questions or simply say hello.
Zendesk explains that the feature is designed to help brands reach out to customers with more meaningful, contextual, timely, and personalized interactions. The key benefits include:
- Provide proactive support, such as offering automated self-service based on user behavior and interaction history, as well as show delays on product delivery and scheduled maintenance;
- Drive customer engagement, acquisition, and retention with custom greetings, guided onboarding, and announcements; and
- Increase sales and conversion rates with targeted messages based on user events and past interactions.
Proactive messages allows businesses to reach out to customers with personalized messages based on their behavior and interactions with the company. For example, a customer who has abandoned their shopping cart could be sent a message offering a discount or providing additional information to help them make a purchase decision. Similarly, a customer who has been inactive for a period of time could be sent a message to remind them of a product they previously showed interest in.
By using proactive messages, businesses can not only improve customer engagement but also reduce the number of support requests. Without a backlog of tickets, agents can focus on more complex tasks, personalize their communications and support, and in turn, allow customers to feel more valued because they receive personal, proactive outreach from a business.
Better Experience = Happier Customers
In addition to proactive messages, there are a number of other ways that businesses can deliver personalized experiences to their customers. Successful CX strategies that deliver optimal experiences balance self-service, automation, and agent assistance, with advancements opening up new possibilities for customized support.
Technologies such as chatbots or virtual assistants can also provide personalized support to customers. By leveraging artificial intelligence and natural language processing, these tools can deliver personalized recommendations and support to customers in a timely and efficient manner.
Aniano shared, “Messaging over a rich channel has raised the bar for CX. There’s a lot of stuff that companies need to do to adapt to these new standards, including finding ways for AI to work behind the scenes to improve operations such as infusing these messaging interactions with AI-powered insights.”
He noted things like intent detection—using AI to determine the intent of the customer in order to send them down the right path. He also stressed the need to break down silos and integrate systems. “You can’t have a great rich messaging experience unless your customer experience solution is integrated with your order management system, or your inventory system, or your sales system, or whatever the case may be.”
Ultimately, the key to delivering personalized experiences is to understand that every customer is unique and has different needs and preferences, and requires an individualized approach to data analytics. By taking the time to understand these individual differences and tailoring interactions accordingly, businesses can build strong relationships with their customers and enhance customer satisfaction and retention. The truth is the effectiveness of AI depends on the quality of the data. In the past, agents lost productivity navigating through multiple data systems without integrated data. With proactive messages, a bot can collect important customer data upfront and use tags to route to the right agent with all the context they need to resolve issues faster and more effectively.
The new proactive messages feature introduced by Zendesk is just one example of how businesses can leverage technology to deliver personalized experiences and improve customer engagement. In an environment where CX leaders are increasingly leaning on and adopting new AI to deliver optimal service while reasonably controlling costs, exploring more personalized, automated customer experience can have a lasting impact.
Now more than ever, businesses are looking for ways to drive cost savings and increase revenue through multiple avenues, such as reducing services costs, eliminating technology silos to drive productivity, and maximizing value from new technology investments. As the business landscape continues to evolve, it is clear that delivering personalized experiences will remain a critical factor in driving customer loyalty and success.