Friday, February 3, 2012

Standardized Personalization?

In a time when customers have become all powerful, finding a way to please them all individually has become a gargantuan task. Customers know that in today’s networked, ‘Facebook before breakfast’ world they have the option to take companies to task at their discretion. At the same time, they have become extremely choosy about every element of the product. Customization can be blamed and so can companies’ need to impress and retain customers. But the end result is a customer who is exposed to many choices, wants more and wants it now, leaving companies with a very difficult question; ‘How do we build a customer service strategy that is personalized yet standardized and effective?’

Marketers on a daily basis deal with reams of customer intelligence telling them what homogenous sets of customers want from their product and base decisions on this research and deliver a product which is largely accepted. As long as the product satisfies a majority, they have a hit. But customer service is a wholly different ball game. Where a freebie may work for one customer, a cashback and a lifetime supply of the product may still lose you a customer. Standardization of customer service in such an environment is no more an option. 
Delivering experiences which resonate with a customer’s behavior, needs and desires has become paramount.

The need to come up with personalized strategies for all your customers may be an uphill task but at the same time generalizing can be suicidal. So the questions companies need to ask themselves are: Where can your service strategy differ? At what stage in the sales cycle can you affect the change? How do you find smaller sets of similar customers to whom personalized service can be standardized? Where does it all begin? Marketers need to start looking at customers from a very different lens then they used to before, because customers are no more a set of people with similar needs and rights. They are now deciding before you react and demanding before you produce.

So how are you going to deliver a one to one strategy?                                                             

1 comment:

  1. Personally I believe we are over-complicating this. As a customer I have a set of very basic, hygiene, needs that I want satisfied first. I am extremely unlikely to go out and trash my service provider unless the said service provider has offended me - and seriously - by NOT meeting my hygiene level needs. And these basic needs are deliver what you promised, treat me with respect, listen to me when I have a problem, and stay with me till a solution is found. This has not changed since the first customer on the planet and will not change till (dare I say it?!) till after social media. What businesses are fretting about today is simply that having got away with murder for a while - customers are now able to fight back and hard in previously unimaginable ways. And so we pretend the "customers’ needs have changed". They have not - they are simply holding businesses accountable because they now CAN!