Is personalized service a more effective tool than personalized marketing? Research from Gladly, a customer service technology platform, indicates that it is.
In the company’s most recent Consumer Expectations Report, 79% of customers said personalized service is more important than personalized marketing; 77% of customers would recommend a travel brand to friends and family if they provided a more personalized experience; and 66% of travel customers said companies should know their identifying information (name, location, etc.) to best instill brand confidence.
Mike McCarron, head of customer relationships for Gladly, said that in the past customer service has largely been a collection of silo-ed communications channels – Cisco for phone, LivePerson for chat, Salesforce for email and others for social media. When you try to pull together all these different vendors, said McCarron, you get “a false sense” of omnichannel effectiveness.
You may have delivered all the channels, he said, but haven’t done it in a way that delivers a great experience for your agent or the consumer. Gladly moves all the channels onto one platform that orients all the communications that happen around a particular customer.
One Gladly client is JetBlue. McCarron said Mosaic (high-earning) members of JetBlue’s TrueBlue loyalty program are immediately directed to a high-touch team when they contact the airline. As an example, McCarron said one Mosaic member was trying to charge a booking on chat, which is not possible. Told he had to call, the customer said he didn’t want to go through the whole process again on the phone. The agent told him that as long as he called a specific number, the next agent would immediately see the entire chat and all information associated with his personal profile.
JetBlue, said McCarron, integrated Gladly into its customer platform on matters like seat preferences. That way if a traveler is in touch on any channel with the airline, the staff member (or crew member in JetBlue parlance) will say, “I see you prefer the aisle, I’ll change that for you.” The associate will also know about the three emails, two phone calls and a chat that have been made in the past on a subject.
McCarron said 86% of respondents to Gladly’ s survey said they expect to be able to move between channels and be able to maintain the context of that conversation. Unfortunately, they said, only 30% of vendors deliver that kind of seamless experience.
Another important lesson from the survey, said McCarron, is that all consumers are using all channels, including younger people using the phone and older people using text. Consequently, it is important for brands to offer all channels and enable people to move seamlessly between them.
Personalized marketing, said McCarron, often makes people feel they are being sold to rather than treated well. Consumers, he said, want to say to brands: “if you earn my trust and care, you will get my business.”
In addition, said McCarron, customers will spend more with a brand that delivers great service. He said if you have two vendors — one offering a product or service at a higher price but with better service -- customers will go out of their way to buy the more expensive product. The survey showed 84% of respondents saying they would behave in that way.
Many brand choices are now made, based on end-to-end experiences -- ease of booking, check-in etc., said McCarron.
The pandemic has brought a whole other dimension to personal service as the connection has moved to a digital experience. As a result, every digital interaction is critical. McCarron said that with the growth of online travel agencies, customers might have direct contact with an airline or hotel company only twice a year. “It’s more important than ever to make the best impression on the customer in these limited interactions,” he said.