Reinstate the Art of Personal Selling through Proactive Personalization

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Since the scales of power have tipped in favor of consumers, businesses have scrambled to create experiences that adhere to the on-demand needs of today’s tech-savvy consumers.

Caught in the tornado of the paradigm shift, businesses have grasped onto the promise of data, AI, and technology to better understand their customers and wrestle back control.

In the midst of mediating new and complex technologies, businesses have tried to stay afloat by meeting consumers over the channels they frequent most. Trying to position themselves in shoppers’ path as they navigate the decision journey, organizations have invested heavily in social media advertisements, email marketing and the like.

But is this reactive approach really the best way to serve consumers?

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In my mind, these tactics offer the same utility as a brick-and-mortar sign spinner that’s supposed to drive store traffic by getting the attention of consumers passing by. While it may generate short-term awareness, it does little to foster loyal customers and fuel long-term revenue.

Reactive tactics rely on the fact that consumers will choose your product because your brand is more accessible on more channels. It infers that consumers will remember and come to your business when a need arises. Most of all, it’s grounded in the assumption that all customers will be enticed by the same brand promise, price or product.

But in a crowded digital landscape where customers have endless options, those expectations aren’t feasible. Customers’ decisions all whim on a moment of truth. The channel they use, the products they browse or ultimately buy – it rapidly changes within a matter of seconds.

To meet the dynamic needs of today’s consumers, businesses must look to serve segments of one by proactively anticipating customer needs and giving them the channel flexibility and information to accomplish a purchase with ease.

 

Proactive Personalization + Clienteling

Businesses can support these type of experiences through proactive personalization –  whereby businesses use information about a customer—either based on past interactions or collected from external sources—to instantaneously customize the experience. Remembering customer preferences is a basic example of this capability, but it extends to personalizing and optimizing the next steps in a customer’s journey.

While proactive personalization has been primarily driven through the ecommerce experience (think machine-learning recommendation engines), it has yet to aggressively make its way into businesses’ labor force – a critical connector for optimizing the customer journey and a great opportunity to fuel additional revenue.

Proactive personalization can reinstate the art of personal selling, or clienteling. By using sophisticated technology that integrates real-time data to surface 360 customer profiles and predictive analytics, customer service agents and in-store sales associates can reach across channels to actively create moments of engagement and dialogue through personalized, predictive suggestions.

In this way, technology and people can come together to construct a new customer journey based on the activities, channels, and products that add optimal value for every unique customer. Ultimately, this proactive and efficient customer journey will cause customers to be irresistibly and permanently immersed in the brand experience – creating an unending loop of engagement that drives continuous customer loyalty.

 

Proactive Personalization in Action

Put yourself in the shoes of the customer and imagine how compelling an experience like this would be.

To take the idiom literally, let’s say you purchased a pair of running shoes from a local brick-and-mortar. During your visit, you worked with an in-store associate who fitted you for a pair of shoes based on the intricacies of your feet, level of activity and past injuries/common stress points.

Six months go by since you’ve purchased your shoes. In the midst of your busy day-to-day, your shoes aren’t top of mind – that is, until you receive an email from the store associate you worked with previously. In the email, the store associate notes that its been 6 months since your purchase and that replenishing your shoes is a good idea to avoid injury. In the email, he also includes a link which takes you to a customized microsite on the stores ecommerce website.

On the microsite, you see a message from the sales associate with products below it. The message reads, “Below, is the most recent model of the running shoe you purchased 6 months ago. Since we’re nearing Fall, I’ve also included some warmer running gear that will be optimal for colder weather. Let me know if you’ve incurred any new injuries or need any other type of gear – I’d be happy to send some additional product recommendations your way or have you come in for another fitting.”

In addition to the sales associate recommendations, you can access other programmatic product recommendations that are based on your preferences, history and real-time behavior through the microsite.

 

Every step of the way, this experience adheres to customer’s needs while adding value: it is available and present on the digital channels that consumers frequent, it uses previously known information and established connections to blend channel activities and expand subsequent experiences, and it provides proactive, valuable suggestions that align with the unique preferences and needs of the individual.

Through 4-Tell’s Smart Commerce℠ Platform, we’re empowering teams with the insights and capabilities to implement these experiences across channels. Clients such as GiftTree and Music Direct have already experienced a significant lift in revenue, repeat customers and conversion through these high-touch interactions that drive loyalty and engagement.

Personalized, proactive, and predictive; these core elements open the door to a new era of conversational commerce – an era that depends on our ability to leverage tech and human connection to create cohesive, fluid conversations that grow loyalty.

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