Every email in your inbox addresses you by name, your “suggested” list is filled with products that consistently catch your eye, and your shopping apps frequently notify you about tempting personal rewards. As the brand-customer relationship becomes increasingly familiar, personalization tactics are getting progressively more detailed and creative.
However, the convenience and enjoyment of hyper-personalization is balanced with rising privacy concerns, issues around irrelevant targeting, and the scrutiny of meaningless automated templates. So how do brands use this trend to their advantage while maintaining an authentic connection with the customers they are on a first-name basis with? We asked our experts their thoughts on hyper-personalization and its effects on customer experience:
Jenn McMillen, Chief Accelerant at Incendio
Hyper-personalization, also known as 1-to-1 marketing can dramatically improve customer experience. It starts with collecting zero- and first-party data to lay the foundation of personalization and relevancy. That’s table stakes these days and the contract every company needs to make with its constituents.
With the avalanche of marketing messages thrown at all of us daily, the good things that stand out are the 1-to-1 hyper-personalized messages. Yes, I just bought a new car. Tell me about Teflon coating, fancy cup holders for my phone or extended warranties, not how awesome your other models are. I just bought a pair of navy-blue chinos. Show me tops or jewelry or shoes that coordinate with my pantaloons, so I look fly when I leave the house.
But if data is step one, then overlaying customer lifetime value (or even current value via a tiered loyalty structure, for example) on top of benefits, rewards and promotions is step two. If I am a top customer of yours (hello, Sephora, I’m looking at you), then show me the customer love with a birthday gift that’s better than my friend who shops Ulta more than you. When I’m doing the things you ask in your loyalty program, then make sure I know that there are special rewards just for me as a better-than-bottom member. In the simplest form of loyalty math, give 3% in rewards to your low-value members, 4% in rewards to your mid-value folks, and 5% or better to the high-fliers. It’s a quid-pro-quo. I show you the love, then you show me the love. The more, the merrier.
Kevin Leonor, Customer Success Manager at Zoom
Exclusivity. Instant Ownership. When things are hyper-personalized, it celebrates the user’s uniqueness. When they are placed in hyper-segmented groups, there is a sense of exclusivity and belonging to a group that makes you similar to others while different from the rest. There is comfort in that balance.
Amit Jain, Digital Transformation Program Manager at Accenture
I believe companies have started to realize that they are not in the business of selling a product or a service to their customer but creating an end-to-end stellar experience for their users. And, personalizing the experience as per the customers’ interests is a sure shot way to achieve that. In the last couple of decades, technologies such as AI/ML, cloud computing, and availability of cheap smartphones and high-speed internet has enabled companies to know their consumers at an intimate level. Hence, the personalization of experience is turning into hyper-personalization and privacy is becoming a big concern which needs to be addressed through open discussions and policy making. Industry leaders and policy makers need to come together to arrive at a framework to ensure that innovation is not compromised and at the same time our basic right to privacy prevails. Easier said than done.
Jason S. Bradshaw, CEO at Bradshaw & Koh
Personalization has been considered the holy grail of marketing for decades and yet many organizations still struggle with delivering personalization in a meaningful way.
Before an organization considers the notion of hyper-personalization, I would encourage them to critically evaluate if they are currently consistently delivering on their customer and experience promises. Further before diving into implementation mode, they need to consider will hyper-personalization deliver consistent meaningful value to our consumers.
Hyper-personalization has the potential to deliver an extremely convenient experience for consumers, and in the process a strategic advantage for the business – however if it is delivered in an inconsistent manner, it will do more harm than good.
Ultimately the consumer cares about 3 things:
- Achievement, can I achieve what I wanted to achieve;
- Convenience, can I achieve what I want to without hassle; and
- Emotions, do I feel valued by, and do I trust the business I am interacting with.
If hyper-personalization will ensure you deliver on these 3 things consistently, then it is worth exploring.
Finally, while companies like Amazon deliver exceptional hyper-personalization with great certainty (including pre-shipping items to closer delivery hubs), we all need to remember they didn’t get to that level of personalization overnight. Delivering hyper-personalization is a journey, and if you start down this path you need to commit to it and be prepared to evolve what you mean by it over time.
Michael Creal, Market Unit Leader, CE&X NA CX Customer Success – Emerging Segment, SAP America Inc.
Understanding & managing a ‘single’ shopper’s online experience, based on their individual and historical purchasing patterns & preferences, is the preverbal ‘Holy Grail’ of eCommerce marketing. Hyper-personalization is a clear CX multiplier and data driven answer to minimizing abandon carts. For example, if you were able to not only show what items of clothing a person bought previously, but provide offers around matching accessories, shoes, or clothing – it would be similar to being in a virtual and personalized boutique catering to one’s specific needs and/or wants (i.e., think Wedding Dress showing and fitting). Noting that this type of experience can be had in any industry with Design Thinking driving its construct. However effectively capturing & leveraging this data is at the very heart of this opportunity.
And I would be professionally remiss, if I did not mention/plug our ‘SAP Intelligent Enterprise for Retail’ offering.
Christopher Brooks, Clientship CX
I think there is an obsession that personalization means data personalization. Not the case. If I walk into a store with a sad face, I anticipate the greeter won’t reply with a standard prosaic response. They will hyper-personalize their response to mine. This will be a one-time execution of the experience. There is a time and a place for it. In b2b, we would say customization. Customer A may not take sales calls on Friday because that’s their fulfilment day, so no contact is made. But Customer B may dispatch all week, so contact is okay any time after 11am, because they open later. And similar conditions may apply across invoicing, ordering etc. This is hyper personal. So, it’s a good thing when it is in service of the customers’ needs and expectation, not just for the sake of sales.
Michael Solomon, Professor of Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University
When it comes to CX, we have created a monster.
As some innovative marketers continue to ramp up their ability to customize their touchpoints with customers based upon their prior behavior or preferences, this has raised the expectations bar for everyone else.
Younger consumers in particular, expect to be treated as individuals. Studies show that they assume a marketer already knows who they are and what they need whenever they choose to initiate contact with the company.
But everybody likes to be treated as an individual so personalized messages and products are a no-brainer if you can deliver them well. However, there is an important caveat: Many consumers have a B.S. detector that goes off loud and clear if they suspect a marketer is trying to personalize a message simply by inserting their name or other details into a standard template. In early research my colleagues and I published, we found that this kind of “phone-it-in” treatment (what we called “cosmetic personalization”) actually had the potential to backfire. If you’re going to board the personalization train, make sure you’re in it for the long haul.
Yvette Mihelic, Director of Customer Experience at John Holland Transport
For a number of years now, hyper-personalization has been a key “buzz word” in the broader CX world. In public transport, while work was maturing, the industry itself was lagging with other investment priorities taking the lead. Covid has accelerated the value of hyper-personalization with its ability to provide contextualized engagement with customers to plan and alternatively plan their public transport journeys to meet their changing travel patterns and requirements. While the satisfaction drivers for customers for timeliness and reliability remain important, additional drivers of cleanliness and safety perception (particularly around capacity and the ability to socially distance) have been elevated into the mix.
Through the arming of customers with self-selected (yet pushed) details of their regular or proposed journeys (such as how full a train, tram, bus or ferry is, or the current journey time from origination to final destination), we are seeing customers change their journeys (sometimes once already commenced). The ability for our customers to “choose their own adventure” has subtly changed the relationship between the operator and customer, to the point where timetables and even modes of transport are being changed to meet customer needs identified from micro data, rather than being driven from demographic meta data.
Stay tuned for more expert panels on CXBuzz!