It’s time to make business personal

It’s no surprise that your customers, partners and employees all expect more personalized, relevant experiences. However, the companies that are leading the way here are those that have made relevance transformation a priority — making it their mission to personify the way they do business across the enterprise. Personalization is essential to growth and it is critical that your customers feel it at every step of their journey, from  website, to store, to product, to support. Enhancing your website, improving your product offering and better equipping your sales and support agents to be more personal with customers sounds like a costly undertakingand if you are considering it with the resources you have today, it would be. Fortunately, AI-powered search and recommendations can help bring more relevance to every digital interaction.

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In this post, we’ll explore growth opportunities that arise when you make your customer — their intent, the interests, their knowledge — the central focus of your organization. First, we’ll talk about personalized customer experiences: how the process of providing salient product or content recommendations to the people who interact most with your business is an essential contributor to higher customer satisfaction and increased conversions. Next, we’ll discuss how you can extract invaluable consumer insight from your data that will enable your organization to spot expansion opportunities, whether with new products or into new markets, opening the door to additional revenue streams. Finally, we’ll cover how personalizing the sales cycle has the ability to increase deal size and have a significant impact on your bottom line.

Personalize Your Digital Experiences

Having to search for information is no longer adequate to ensure we get the most relevant guidance, products or advice that we need to take the next step. We expect Siri to tell us where the nearest dry cleaner is according to where we are when we ask. We expect Netflix to suggest movies we’ll like so we don’t have to scroll through hundreds of options. We expect retailers to remember our birthday and send us exclusive promotions to celebrate. Simply put: we expect relevance. It’s become the norm and the sooner organizations embrace it, the sooner they can profit from it.

A recent Salesforce AI Report supports the prevalence and importance of relevance and personalization. According to the report, by 2020 more than 55% of B2C and 75% of B2B buyers will come to expect personalized offers. Before long, companies lagging behind the relevance revolution will simply cease to exist.

So, let’s get right into how personalizing your customer experience can increase revenue without taxing your existing resources:

Higher conversions

Personalized content recommendations are an excellent way to boost conversions. The proof is in the pudding: the B2B publication CMSWire was able to accomplish a huge conversion boost with AI-powered search by improving their content recommendation delivery methods, thereby increasing mobile conversions by 125%.

Content recommendations are especially powerful in ecommerce. The fact that over 35% of Amazon’s revenue is generated by its recommendation engine is a testament to the influence that personalization can have on buying patterns and conversions. Customers want to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, and can be influenced to purchase even more than anticipated if the recommendations are relevant and personalized to their needs and preferences.

Whether you’re measuring conversions as opens, click-throughs or purchases, personalizing the experience for each customer will increase the likelihood of them taking the desired action and contributing to your bottom line. Tailoring your digital experience for every customer would be too heavy of a lift without the help of AI-powered search and recommendations. Fortunately, with AI and machine learning capabilities, all the nitty gritty work is automated, freeing your team to work on more complex and creative tasks that will contribute to the innovation of your company.

Additional cross-sell and upsell opportunities

In a recent MarTech Advisor article, I covered the ways in which an AI-powered search and recommendation engine can help upsell quickly and easily. For instance, I found that many ecommerce companies which proactively recommended related products using a “customers also considered” prompt or intuitive search query suggestions saw significant increase in their cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

Exploring different ways to proactively recommend additional products to your customers goes a long way in growing out your bottom line. Knowing what you should recommend, however, will depend heavily on your data. With visibility into your usage analytics, you can spot trends, behaviors and connections between pages and previous browsing journey. Those insights coupled with machine learning algorithms help your organization to predict what your customers will need next and offer it to them before they even search, enhancing the degree of personalization, increasing customer satisfaction and securing the upsell.

Increased customer satisfaction

Regardless if you’re part of a B2B or B2C organization, if you’re offering products or services, if you’re in fintech or manufacturing, we all have one thing in common: we’re in the business of making people’s lives easier. Without our customers there is no business, so it’s our job to give them what they want and make sure they’re satisfied. They want findable information so they can self-serve, they want an intuitive digital experience regardless of the device they’re using, they want a dependable product or service and in the event they need to contact support, they want to feel like their time is respected and have the answer to their question in record time. With 92% of consumers trusting referrals from people they know, keeping your customers happy has never been more crucial. Personalizing your customer experience will not only help to increase satisfaction, it will lead to higher retention and new business referred by brand advocates.

Medallia was on a mission to increase customer satisfaction by offering a more personalized experience. They set out to build a world class customer community, reduce the required effort to find relevant information all while continuing to increase profits. With AI-powered search, not only has Medallia seen a 5 point difference in their net promoter score and saved money by empowering their customers to self-serve, they’re using support insight to drive product improvement to further satisfy their customers.

Use Content Gaps to Personalize Your Offering

Sometimes what your visitors don’t find using your site search is more telling than the things they do. Your customers’ intent is a valuable resource that shouldn’t be squandered in 404 pages and empty search results: you should be actively capitalizing on the information that your usage analytics provide.

These “content gaps” — a term which denotes the disconnect between what your customers are looking to buy and what you do not currently produce or carry — have the potential to be rich revenue opportunities.

How do you go about actually realizing this process, from start to finish? By closing the loop on what your customers expect and what you plan to deliver. Let’s take a deeper dive at how you can turn inefficiencies into profit.

How “No Results” Can Equal Big Results

Content gap analysis is most commonly used for SEO purposes: you investigate your content map, assess what kind of buyers you’re interested in attracting, and produce content for that audience.

Content gap analysis for your site search works a little differently. If you can pinpoint what your customers are looking for but are not finding, you can have a better idea of what your customers expect when they come to your website. Separating them into personas is one thing, anticipating their needs is a whole other ball game, but entirely possible

Let’s say you run an ecommerce website for various tech products and accessories, and a significant number of customers or prospects are looking for a particular brand of laptop that you don’t yet carry. Using that data to understand your customers’ intent is a great way to illuminate new opportunities. Paying closer attention to search behavior often presents low hanging fruit that’s yours for the picking.

Or perhaps you notice that you have an increasing number of visitors and engagement from prospects in Europe. However, until now, Europe has not been an area you service and you don’t have anything for them. Being able to track who’s coming to your site, what they’re engaging with, what they’re searching for and where they’re getting stuck (i.e.: language page, areas of delivery, etc.), can help your organization tap into a whole new market, or at the very least provide you with a starting point for market research.

Why Now?

Digital transformation has been among the top priorities for C-level executives across verticals but the ones leading the way and reshaping the consumer landscape are those who’ve shifted focus to the relevance transformation, and whose missions are to deliver unrivaled personalize experiences. According to Frost & Sullivan, by 2020, personalized customer experiences will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

But what does personalization look like? A recent McKinsey report emphasizes customers’ demands that simply cannot be ignored by organizations hoping to survive in the digital age. Among them are:

  • The expectation of recommendations they wouldn’t have thought of on their own
  • The desire to be reminded of things they may not be keeping track of
  • Omnichannel experiences
  • Value in a way that’s personalized and meaningful to them

Fortunately, meeting and even surpassing their expectations has never been more doable than it is today. Your data is the voice of your customer — AI and machine learning is your way of effectively communicating to them, on an individual level, at scale. AI can fundamentally change the way your organization engages with your customers, partners and employees and present incredible opportunities for growth without increasing costs of operation. The longer you wait, the more money is being left on the table and the better your competitors’ chances are at delivering the experience your customers expect of your brand.

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About Mark Floisand

Mark Floisand is SVP of Product and Industry Marketing at Coveo. He has over 20 years of marketing, sales and general management experience in the technology industry, spanning blue chip and start-up companies across three continents, including Apple, Adobe, BusinessObjects, SAP, Total Defense, Untangle and WeVideo. Mark was most recently with Sitecore, a Coveo technology partner, where he led product marketing. Mark holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; and an MBA from the University of Durham in the UK.

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