Generate Business with a Personalized Experience
Customer behavior is constantly changing. With endless options available, customers are no longer forced to buy what is placed directly in front of them. Since customer attitudes have changed, it’s time businesses adapt.
Great! You’ve got a new customer through your door. Not only have they come through your doors, they spent money with you and they’re happy! What now? Old logic would tell business owners that the customer will simply come back when they need to purchase new clothes or get a fresh cut and color. What about the new boutique that opened down the street, or the salon that opened next door? I’m sure this is not the first time that you’ve thought about it, but what do you do to build a loyal customer. You’ve done some great leg work. There’s a satisfied customer walking out of your door; we just need them to come back again and again. Maybe you know all of this already, and you’ve spent money on marketing or even offered coupons and promotions to your customers.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t enough anymore. Customers are constantly bombarded with “bigger and better” deals, and businesses that go over the top to fill their needs. You need to compete, and while it may seem like a daunting task, it’s much easier to keep a customer than gain a new one.
The focus of this blog is to help you understand mass customization, what it means to you, and how you can efficiently implement it into your already developed processes to build a loyal customer base.
To begin, we need to understand what mass customization is and what it consists of. Mass customization is a concept that is used to develop strategic marketing strategies for newly targeted or re-targeted markets. To make mass customization successful, it’s important that new customers are targeted without increasing business costs. Using information and resources already available is very important.
Harvard Business Review has analyzed four customization approaches. They are, collaborative, adaptive, cosmetic, and transparent. A collaborative customization approach is effective when the product being offered has many options, and the customer is having a tough time articulating what they need. For example, on Nike.com, a customer can build a custom pair of shoes from scratch. For many customers this is too overwhelming, so Nike uses collaborative customization to help narrow down the choices. An adaptive customization approach is appropriate when the customer can easily customize a product based on their needs at the time. The best example of this approach is found in a Harvard Business Review article pertaining to mass customization, lighting companies that allow customers to adjust the mood of the lights depending on their needs. Cosmetic customization is best summed up as re-packaging the exact same product for different customers. This approach can be seen with companies that allow customers to purchase products and embroider them with a special logo or monogram. Lastly, transparent customization is the best approach when a customer is predictable. The customer does not necessarily want to have constant and direct contact with a business. Transparent customization is best exemplified with automatic fulfillment companies. While the four approaches are distinct, mixing these approaches depending on the needs of your customers has been shown to be wildly successful.
Finding a point of common uniqueness will help you to segment you customers more efficiently. For example, a full service salon that provides styling, massages and pedicure/manicure services will want to segment their customers based on previous services provided. Of course there will be customers that come in for more than one service, but the point is to understand how your customers interact with your business.
As you understand how customers interact with your business, you’ll begin to understand their habits. Knowing what your customer needs and what they want is the basis of growing your customer base.
Once you’ve created the desired customer segmentation, it’s time to decide how you will target your customers. In order for mass customization to be successful, it should not be costly, and using the information that you already have is key. Whether you decide to customize packaging, marketing materials, placement, or terms and conditions, it should not drastically change processes already in place.
In the case of a full service salon, once the customer base has been segmented based on previous services provided, it is most beneficial for the marketing to target customers returning for the same service. If a customer came in for a massage, you are more likely to get that customer back in your store for a massage if you send an email pertaining the massage service that was previously performed or offer a promotion for coming in and having another one.
This type of transparent customization provides a unique interaction with your business without being weighed down with details. You already know what they want, and it’s very likely that they’ll want it again.
Gathering information based on customer actions and using that information to predict your customer’s preferences, is the whole basis of mass customization. Those customer records that you compile have all of the information you need to directly target them.
Catering your marketing strategy to what your customer says they want, makes them feel understood. The process of making this happen should not be complex. Use segmentation to group your customers in order to easily send out emails or promo materials. While you want to be specific, and target as many customers as possible, you don’t want to get buried in the details to where the process becomes too complicated. Start with simple segments and build from there.
Overall, mass customization will successfully build a loyal customer base. Using the customer information that you have and requesting new information where appropriate allows you to build a stronger relationship with your customer that will have them coming back again and again.