The personal touch: don't call me Simone...

by Simon Stanford, Head of Private Sector Sales at Telefónica UK

Personal. Relevant. Appropriate. Timely. Words of advice we’ve all heard about customer engagement – but what do they actually mean? And why is it so important?

I think of it this way. I wouldn’t invite a salesperson into my life that knows nothing about me, doesn’t know what I want or why. The same rules apply in the office. Everyone’s so busy trawling through emails, sitting in meeting after meeting and struggling to maintain a work-life balance that nobody has the time to listen to something generic or irrelevant.

We worked with YouGov on some research, ‘Redefining selling, serving and working,’ that revealed the demand is there for the personal touch in business communications. Almost 69% of the public want businesses to invest more in their personalisation strategies. 42% of senior managers believe personal communications have contributed to increased sales, 56% believe it has increased customer satisfaction and 63% see better customer engagement. You can make a difference by truly taking time to understand the customer.

And nowadays the personal touch goes far beyond just using their first name on an email (but if you do make sure it’s correct, I’ve had far too many emails addressed to Simone).  It’s about careful segmentation to understand what the customer is looking for, when they want to receive the information and how they want to receive it. We shouldn’t be afraid to try something different – people already have enough emails to contend with. Try going back to the drawing board with SMS or MMS messaging (90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes!), or think about getting creative on social media.  The research also indicates the majority of customers think organisations need to invest more in using modern technology – such as apps, online services and social media – to communicate more efficiently with customers. Despite the appetite for digital integration, retailers especially seem to be missing a trick with only 16% of consumers having ever been assisted by an employee equipped with a device.

If you get it right, the benefits of personalisation stretch across both the private and public sectors, as can greater customer understanding. We have a solution called Smart Steps that uses anonymised and aggregated data from millions of mobile phones to deliver invaluable insight. It helped Newark and Sherwood District Council effectively analyse local traffic flow and congestion. As a result, they collated the evidence needed to deliver a convincing case to the County Council and the Highways Agency and were able to devise traffic management plans to solve the problem.

So sure, all this is great and will definitely help you reach your customers but you mustn’t forget the most important step – to carefully measure and monitor the results of everything you do. Are people responding to the message? If not, why not? If yes, what’s made the difference?  Continually analysing and learning helps us get the personal touch into our business communications. Plus, when we combine it with the right coordination between Sales and Marketing, it can boost revenue and we would be happy to help you do the same for your organisation.

Do you use personalisation within your business? What could you do differently?

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