Customer experience: How personalised should your e-mail be?

I made up my mind to buy some furniture online after thinking about it for a little while.

The time came to place the order:

- I want the furniture to be delivered to the store then pick up the parcel, which is pretty bulky, but I’m informed that’s impossible

- That means it has to be delivered to my home, but that’s not convenient for me

- I’m told the shipping costs are proportional to the value of the order (€60 in shipping costs)

- The cart empties when I reload the page

- When I decide to pay, the payment is refused for no reason After several attempts and a good dose of determination, I manage to place the order online all the same and the delivery is scheduled for a few days later. In the end, I’m happy with my purchase, but my online customer experience was catastrophic. After pinging the brand on Twitter to report the issue, I would have appreciated a note in the parcel or an e-mail to apologise. I certainly would have shared this nice little touch on Twitter.

What I appreciated

I received an e-mail a few days later proposing ornaments and other furniture that might match what I just bought. I find this e-mail entirely relevant and interesting as I bought a bookcase, but it’s true that I don’t have any ornaments to decorate it. So I appreciated this suggestion.  

What I wouldn’t have appreciated and my recommendations

However, I would have found it inappropriate to receive a cart abandonment e-mail (as is very often the case) when I tried to place an order on the site but couldn’t for technical reasons. A cart abandonment e-mail can prove highly effective provided it’s relevant. With this in mind, we could for example consider asking the reasons for the abandonment.

The e-mail could read as follows: “Have you completed your purchase? Tell us why not so we can help you!”

- I didn’t have time to complete my purchase + (CTA (Call To Action) : Continue my purchase)

- I’m wondering about the product’s characteristics + (CTA: Be called back by an advisor)

- I don’t have the necessary funds + (CTA: Pay in 3 interest-free instalments)

- I can’t place the order for technical reasons + (CTA: Be contacted by our customer service department)

- I’m waiting for an offer to reduce the price + (CTA:  Sign up to our newsletter)

I think that e-mail personalisation is important as we all want to be considered as unique and “important” consumers. However, in my opinion, it must not be systematic. It must be well thought-out to avoid scaring customers off.

For e-mail personalisation, possible questions include:

- In what context is this e-mail sent?

- What are the circumstances? The trigger?

- Am I going to apply the same level of personalisation for all my segments? For example, an “ambassador” consumer can appreciate receiving a highly personalised e-mail but a prospect might be surprised.

- Is it compatible with the GDPR? And by extension, is the consumer aware of the information I have on them? The GDPR requires explicit consent to be given by the consumer to use their data. They must also be told what it will be used for. And why not make the most of this opportunity to remind them that their data means we can send them more relevant messages? This will make them aware and undoubtedly more amenable if they give their consent. Let’s simply try to be genuinely customer-centred to propose them a level of personalisation meeting their expectations of the brand. They’ll certainly be more receptive!