Why personalization and communication matters
According to Joel Bines, author of The Metail Economy, “more than ever, the consumer is calling the shots.” That’s because consumers not only have more choices than ever before, but also more access to information. Social media and technology have made it incredibly easy for consumers to widely share the experiences they have with your brand – the good and the bad – and to influence purchasing decisions.
You don’t have to be an influencer to reach a large audience. Today’s digital landscape makes it simple for anyone to broadcast a message or share an opinion.
“Everyone before now, for the most part, who said the customer comes first was lying. The customer never came first. And the customer knows that,” said Bines, in an interview with Morning Brew. “Now you have to mean it. We the customers know that you’re not putting us first because of information and access.”
This open access to information isn’t the only thing putting pressure on businesses to deliver. Consumer expectations are also rising. By focusing heavily on personalization and convenience, digital advertising and ecommerce have conditioned consumers to expect these touches from their shopping experiences:
- According to a 2020 National Retail Federation report, 83% of consumers felt that convenience was more important while shopping than five years prior. The COVID-19 pandemic has only strengthened these consumer expectations.
- Over 9 in 10 consumers are more likely to choose a brand that ensures a convenient experience.
- 42% of consumers said a lack of personalization in their shopping experiences will drive them away from making a purchase.
With fierce competition in virtually every industry, the stakes have never been higher to deliver a standout customer experience. Shaping a convenient and personalized shopping experience for your customers is a great way to create a competitive advantage. Plus, happier customers means happier employees as they will have to spend less time fielding complaints.
Here’s how you can use personalized email and SMS text messaging at key points in your customer flow to deliver on consumer expectations and make customers feel like VIPs.
When to use personalized email and SMS
Personalized email and SMS can be used at many points in the customer journey to keep your guests in the loop and make them feel important.
Most businesses use emails and text messages just in marketing efforts to drive brand awareness and consideration or in post-purchase communications. But it’s important, too, to integrate 2-way communication into the actual shopping experience.
Virtual queue updates
Sometimes demand for your business will require you to put some of your guests on a wait. Perhaps you’ve reached in-store capacity or you want to utilize a virtual queue to eliminate or reduce physical lines for checkout or fitting rooms.
Using a virtual waitlist like Waitwhile, you can allow customers to join a queue using their phones. Without having to wait in a physical line, customers are free to do what they wish, including browsing your store, which drives sales. According to a recent Waitwhile survey, 33% of consumers said that they would continue shopping or browsing in-store while waiting in a virtual queue.
After they’ve joined a virtual queue, you unlock a 2-way communication channel with them. You can send customers updates and allow them to ask questions or request more time via text message.
Appointment booking and scheduling
If your business takes appointments, personalized email and SMS text messaging is the perfect way to stay in touch with customers.
When a customer schedules an appointment, you can send an email or text to confirm the booking. You can also customize (and automate) reminders to be sent to the customer ahead of the scheduled appointment to reduce no-show rates. Sometimes, you may need to send important information day-of (for example, if there’s unexpected construction in the area that will affect travel times) and a personalized text message is the perfect way to ensure timely and speedy delivery of that information.
Just like for a virtual waitlist, customer communication platforms like Waitwhile allow your customers to also message your business directly, creating an experience that feels convenient and personal.
A thoughtful, personalized follow-up after a transaction can work wonders in making a customer feel valued. Consider sending an email or text message in the hours or days after a customer visits your business to thank them for coming.
This moment is also a great opportunity to solicit feedback from your customers. Send a link to a survey to gather data that will help you improve your business.
Related: How to Measure Customer Satisfaction
How to customize and automate emails and SMS
To customize and automate email or text message communications with your customers, you’ll want to use a guest communication platform like Waitwhile. That way, you can centralize all of your comms within a single platform that’s accessible by all of your staff.
In terms of SMS text messages, there are 4 types you can use in Waitwhile:
- Confirmation SMS: an initial text message that is sent to a customer when they join a waitlist or book an appointment
- Automated Alert: these can be used to automatically notify a customer when their turn is coming up (e.g., when there are X minutes remaining or a notification X hours before their scheduled appointment)
- Alert SMS: a manual notification that tells a customer that it’s their turn
- Custom SMS: customized text messages that can be sent at any point in the customer journey
All SMS text messages are fully customizable, so you can make each message relevant and on brand. Plus, “variable placeholders” ensure that each message feels personalized with any data field (such as name, party size, service type, etc.).
All of the above message types are also available to be sent via email instead. When your customers sign up for a waitlist or book an appointment, consider asking them which communication channel they prefer. That way, you put them in control and allow them to specify the type of experience they want.
As for automation, customer communication platforms like Waitwhile allow you to set rules around when each message deploys. With customization and automation features, you can put your customer communication on autopilot while ensuring you deliver the personalized and convenient shopping experience consumers crave.
Learn more: See how guest messaging works in Waitwhile