Modern customer service is based on the empowered customer. Understanding who your customers are, knowing how they like to interact, and engaging them across channels is the only chance marketers have to influence the various different paths to purchase.
Today, customers are in control of the purchasing journey. They take the route that works for them, and if you fail them at any point along that journey, you most likely will lose them. And they do all this without revealing who they are (until it suits them).
Moreover, customers have high expectations and demand a more personalized experience. But how can marketers keep up when most customers decline to part with their personal data?
Turn Web Visitors Into Personas
Customers love their anonymity and generally prefer to be left to their own devices during the research process, but they also love when brands surprise them with personalized offers. The marketer's holy grail may be providing a bespoke purchasing path for each and every customer, but if that's not possible then the next best thing is to bunch customers into personas. Knowing which persona a customer fits means targeting that customer with more general personal offers.
Research from ResponseTap has shown that with the right science and insight, most customers can be linked to five typical buyer personas. Here are a few of them:
- The Socialites (38%): The majority of online shoppers are members of this persona who like to compare and take recommendations from friends, family, and other communities before making their final decision. Socialites are emotionally engaged with their shopping and will be quick to share their disappointment on social media if they have a poor experience.
- The Perfectionists (36%): These people know exactly what they are looking for, will conduct extensive personal research, and expect for brands to deliver their promises at every single touchpoint along their journey. 60% of Perfectionists prefer speaking to someone on the phone to verify their facts and information.
- The Ain't Got Timers (21%): This persona cuts right to the chase with the buying process. Typically this group consists of busy professionals and families who value brands helping them making the most of their time and offering them a seamless omnichannel customer experience. Marketers should watch this group closely and learn from what they do.
Ultimately understanding the actions and behaviors that identify someone as a Socialite, a Perfectionist, or an Ain't Got Timer enables marketers to create better, more targeted, experiences for those consumers.
Using Personas to Facilitate an Omnichannel Strategy
Huge changes in the past few years to do with customer preferences and preferred communication channels has made it difficult for marketers to keep up. Brands are acutely aware of all the potential touchpoints, planning their strategies accordingly to be prepared to deliver a seamless customer experience, but the next step is to tailor the purchasing path, using customer personas to connect data across channels.
The fundamental aspect of omnichannel is that it puts all present and future customers at the fingertips of a business. If the brand is able to manage customers effectively through this journey—while understanding their habits and needs better—they will triumph in cultivating loyal customers.
Identifying nuanced differences in customer habits and delivering a fulfilling experience for each persona as they encounter your brand increases the likelihood of purchase and brand advocacy.
How Knowledge of Personas Improves the Offline Experience
Understanding which of the personas typically interact with your brand makes facilitating this omnichannel experience far easier and more efficient—especially as the customer moves between online and offline channels. The phone, for example, is still the No. 1 choice for customers, according to [PDF] Oracle.
Integrating the phone into an omnichannel strategy has always been a challenge due to the absence of trackable data. But when your call center staff members recognize the different personas, it means they can build a rapport with the customer more quickly and are likely to deliver a much better customer experience.
A Persona in Action
Let's say a Perfectionist researching a holiday to Italy has decided to ring the call center for some more information.
Distinguishing the online clues and behavior that makes someone a Perfectionist (e.g., extensive time spent on pages, impressions on numerous online resources, use of multiple channels) means his or her call can be routed not only to the call center rep best suited to deal with Italy, but to a person who is also sympathetic to the needs of this persona (i.e., a rep who recognizes the caller wants clarity and questions to be answered quickly.
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Profiling customers in this way may seem a crude method, but until personalization technology becomes more sophisticated, or unless online shoppers suddenly become much more open with their personal data, it may be one of the best tactics available.
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