How retail can go hyper-personal

By Andy Wilkins, co-founder and CEO of Futr

Offering tailored experiences to customers has been a goal for retailers for years. It’s not hard to see why one in five consumers who expressed an interest in personalised products or services are willing to pay a 20% premium.

Delivering the expected

But it’s not just about the opportunity. Increasingly, personalisation is expected; one study found that 80% of consumers want personalisation from retailers.

Of course, wanting to deliver something and being able to do it are two different matters. For many years, being able to offer truly personalised services was a pipe dream, or at least extremely expensive for both retailer and customer (and is why terms like bespoke and made to measure still retain a certain cachet). Now, however, personalisation is more accessible than ever, hence the increased expectation from consumers.

It’s all thanks to technology, and specifically artificial intelligence. As customer expectations increasingly dictate that service is tailored to their uniqueness, businesses must understand their language and channels of choice, connect experiences across channels, and apply user-specific data in a way that is non-intrusive.

Intelligent segmentation

When used properly, AI makes it easy to segment customers based on almost any metric or behaviour. This is a really important step for retailers. The least complex, least emotional interactions are migrating to self-service whilst higher emotional interactions are supported across a spectrum of channels, like live chat. Great customer value will be created by understanding what interactions have the most emotional value, allowing organisations to provide the right touch at the right time. At the same time, this allows greater focus to be placed on more loyal customers or those with greater propensity to spend, thereby increasing customer retention and satisfaction.

Personalising every step of the way

This isn’t just about serving up new offers or more targeted promotions however; it’s about personalising the entire journey, including after sales care and support. Effective deployment of AI can ensure that every interaction is tailored to the customer’s needs, and not just when they might click ‘buy’. From multiple languages at the touch of a button, video consultation via a native platform, to call-back services at a time convenient to the customer where the agent is fully up to speed with the issue being discussed, AI gives brands the ability to truly personalise interactions with their audiences. At the same time, it can reduce the effort required to deliver consistency. A single communications hub is at the core of this, offering one place to control delivery on web, social, messaging and voice. This in turn drives unified brand messaging with a consistent tone across all channels.

Making flexibility and personalisation coexist

The ability of retailers to provide flexible solutions that enhance the customer experience and engage their stakeholders will change how service professionals do their jobs and transform how customer communications are handled. The ability to connect real-time and scheduled conversations via video, through the same platform, adds an additional ‘bridge’ to improve customer relations. Sentiment and other text analysis can determine how a customer is feeling, while also serving up the right information to aid a successful resolution.

Retailers that can offer personalisation in a way that isn’t intrusive and is relevant will be better equipped to deal with rising customer expectations, increase customer loyalty and capture a greater share of their wallet. To do that at scale requires technology, specifically AI. 

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