Personalizing Customer Experiences in Unusual Times

image of satisfied woman getting personalized at home experienceHow can brands keep personalizing customer experiences in strange times? Answering this question is a top concern for business leaders given that consumer preference for personalization is near-universal.  Accenture found that 91% of consumers prefer to shop with brands that personalize their recommendations, offers, and reinforcement of positive behavior. When business leaders personalize correctly, they can drive the outcomes they want. In normal times, customer journey analytics and historical data can point you in the right direction. During a crisis or when a customer’s circumstances have changed rapidly, it is much more difficult to personalize. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can improve your customer journey to deliver personalized experiences even when many consumers’ circumstances have rapidly changed.

This process starts with getting the right data. In times of crisis, personalizing customer experiences is made more difficult because the “right data” from normal times might paint the wrong picture of a customer’s current reality. This is not a reason to abandon your customer journey efforts – instead, you need to proactively ask customers and prospects for their information. When you do, be transparent.
Three-quarters of consumers say they are fine with sharing data, but they want to be able to direct its use. To thrive, brands must be able to collect customer data and use it in an integrated journey.  Here are two ways to properly personalize customer experiences during unusual times.

Manage Customer Expectations

companies are personalizing customer experiences with new ways of shoppingCustomers are feeling the chaos in the world around them. Businesses have both a responsibility and an opportunity to help customers feel like they are on solid ground. When a crisis disrupts normal ways of doing business, you need to explain to customers what has changed, what might be different, and how you will provide the best possible service regardless. For restaurants, this might mean providing clear guidance on how to order food for delivery or pick-up. For retailers, it may mean changing the experience entirely to promote more electronic shopping.

The data behind your normal experience will have changed during a crisis so usual behavior patterns won’t reflect the new reality. Meanwhile, communicate with your customers about the data you need to make their experience better. Proactively ask about preferred channels or how they’d like to receive messages. You should also work closely with your internal teams to identify what areas of your business will change. With the supply chain interruptions, workflow, staffing changes, and other emergent business realities, you must let customers know what you can and cannot do – they’ll thank you for it.

Refine and Smooth Your Customer Journey Processes

Digital planning to streamline the customer journey for personalized cxDuring times of crisis, a consumer’s world can feel extremely narrow. Typically, the customer journey unfolds across multiple channels, but during times of social distancing, the experience necessarily becomes more exclusively digital.  This means it may be the time to start building out a digital customer journey if you haven’t already. Personalizing customer experiences can actually be simpler when certain channels are temporarily irrelevant. While normally, you may have to worry about significant on-site experiences, now the journey is more streamlined.  Meanwhile, with more digital experiences overall, your share of customer attention may shrink. 

The solution is to streamline your customer experience, to make it easy for customers to interact. Even with this streamlining, you need to be able to provide a positive customer experience across time and channel. This is where journey mapping and journey discovery can come in and help you trim your journey down to the most impactful and successful experiences. Begin by identifying these most impactful touchpoints with a journey discovery project.  Then ask questions like: Where are customers falling off? Which touchpoints aren’t delivering great experiences?  How should I measure the revenue impact of a particularly negative experience? Once you know where these issues are, you can begin to fix them with smart journey strategies.

Get the Most Impact from Personalizing Customer Experiences 

download: customer journey maturity modelSome businesses have been personalizing customer experiences for years, but if you are still in a campaign management mindset, difficult and unusual times can be a major challenge. No matter how advanced your customer journey is at the start of a crisis, you must improve customer experience. This will let you deliver better experiences in both good times and bad. To help brands with this, Kitewheel put together the Customer Journey Maturity Model. This document is a powerful tool that can help you optimize your CX. In the Customer Journey Maturity Model, you’ll find our framework to advance up the levels of the customer journey maturity pyramid. At each level, your business will strengthen your ability to actually deliver on the promise of personalized experiences for your customers.