2 Awesome Ways We Injected Personalization Into Our Business (and 1 Total Flop) How can a company personalize experiences for customers, even as its customer base continues to grow?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
I previously wrote about how I used personalized voicemails to get $26,000 in sales with a little over three hours of effort. So, how else can a company personalize experiences for customers, even as its customer base continues to grow? Here are two techniques that worked really well for my business, and one that ended up working better with less personalization.
1. The "P.S. Introduce yourself" email
Over the years, this simple email has garnered thousands of personalized replies. It's been our secret weapon to boost email deliverability and engagement.
It's really simple. After someone signs up to our email list, we send out a simple text-only email asking them to introduce themselves. Here's the email template:
SUBJECT: P.S. Introduce yourself . . .
John, I forgot to mention . . .
I read and respond to all replies to my emails. (Yes, it really is me!)
So please introduce yourself, I'd love to learn more about you!
Please click "reply" and tell me more about you, where you live, where you're at in your business, where you want to be.
Looking forward to your reply,
People love this email. What better way to engage with your customers than to get them to talk about themselves? Just be prepared for some lengthy emails filled with personal stories. Seriously, this email will drive a boatload of replies. Only deploy this if you (or your team) can handle replying to each person individually.
2. Multiple support channels
When your customers have an urgent question, how can they get a hold of you? What is your typical response time? Support desks are great, but email isn't fast enough when someone is about to abandon the cart because of a technical snag.
That's why we decided to offer multiple support channels. You can send an email, call toll-free, send a text message or shoot over a Facebook message. Is it a pain to keep track of the different mediums? Sure. Is it totally unsustainable as we double our customer base? For sure. But does it make the customer experience better? Absolutely.
And this is particularly important during big promotions.
For example, during one of our recent launches, we had a technical issue that prevented some orders from going through. We received a few emails about it, but most people opted to call, send a text message or message us on Facebook. The problem was happening now. They needed help right away. By being available via phone, SMS and Facebook, I calculate that we saved at least $14,000 in sales that potentially would have been lost.
If you don't want to give out your cell phone number, you can get a "burner" phone number that lets you send and receive texts and calls. I use an iPhone app called Hushed which sends calls and texts directly to my phone, without revealing my real number. Total game-changer. I plastered this phone number in emails and on the site, so they could contact me directly. And yes, the text messages and phone calls are literally going straight to me.
When I answer the phone, I simply say: "Hi, Ronnie here, how are you doing today?" That simple greeting completely throws people off. Apparently the CEO and founder isn't supposed to answer calls . . . or record voicemails . . . or be accessible at all . . .
But see, that's how we do things differently.
When others hide behind support desks with a two-business day response time, we offer instant chat via SMS and Facebook. Because when someone is trying to order a $2,000 product, email isn't fast enough. You need to be available now. Is it sustainable? Again: It sure doesn't feel that way. But you have to be willing to hustle as you grow.
3. The total stinker: no-show calls
Has every experiment worked? No, of course not.
For example, we wanted to improve our onboarding by offering 1-on-1 implementation calls with my assistant -- which is to say, whenever any customer is setting up our service, they can hop on the phone with my assistant, who will walk them through the process.
On its surface it seemed like a great idea. Customers get individualized attention and get their specific questions answered. But unfortunately, 60 percent to 70 percent of all confirmed calls were no-shows. The calendar software sent a couple reminders and my assistant even personally confirmed with the client the day of. Still, people disappeared.
This completely floored us. People just didn't respect her time, and it was a major time suck as she spent most of her day chasing clients. But we treated it as a learning experience: Although this seemed like the kind of personalization that people wanted, it turned out that they didn't really want it.
Instead, we switched to the personalized voicemail approach. My assistant records a personalized voicemail and sends it via email. Instead of wasting hours chasing someone, it's now a five-minute task. People like that a lot more; they can listen to it on their own time. These simple voicemail emails have opened up some great conversations and has directly and indirectly led to thousands of dollars in sales.