Can the local barman remember your regular drink? Does the man at your corner shop have your regular magazine saved behind the counter? Customers are drawn to personalized treatment because it recognizes their individual needs. Personalization helps to build a relationship between a company and its consumers, demonstrating value, encouraging trust and offering the perfect environment for the development of brand loyalty.
A truly personalized experience is something that many CX-minded companies have been striving to achieve for some time.
And yet, confronted with the realities of the digital age, many companies have been forced to shirk on their desire, and responsibility, for personalization. The idiosyncrasies of each visitor are far too-often overlooked. In today’s digital world, online success is articulated through total sales, conversions, bounce rates and abandonment rather than customer experiences.
Forrester’s 2016 Customer Experience Index has added fuel to the fire,confirming companies that deliver personalized services grow revenue faster than “CX laggards” by attracting more customers and building greater loyalty. Personalization pays; an Econsultancy and Monetate report showed that companies that have personalized the customer experience see, on average, a 19% uplift in sales.
However, the concept of what constitutes personalization continues to shift. Whereas once generating offers that align with a customer’s previous purchase behavior was sufficient, consumers now demand a far more intuitive, seamless experience from their own personal digital ecosystem.
Appealing to the ever-evolving demands of the modern consumer is a complicated and intricate business. But by concentrating on the central element that appeals to consumers – better personalization – companies can experience real gains. Follow these five guiding principles to ensure that your business isn’t just yearning for personalization; it’s delivering.
Understand your customers
Companies can only grow if they learn how to listen. At the most basic level, it’s fundamental that businesses react appropriately to feedback from consumers. US big box retailer Best Buy’s system of rewarding customers for completing reviews, which are then relayed to its vendors, has proven to be central to their recent reversal of fortunes. At a deeper level, businesses should be learning from the data on their websites to understand more about their online visitors precisely at the moment they’re online. Only by having a real-time understanding of each unique consumer, across all channels in their journey, will businesses be able to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Don’t just scrape data, embrace it
A majority of companies track user behavior, but far too many don’t do enough with the data that they collect. They gather top-level insights, which may eventually have an impact on marketing or advertising decisions, and then leave it at that. Ryan Davis, head of CRM for British retailer Mothercare, argues that “brands need to embrace data-driven insight”, citing the need to be present “at the right time” for the consumer. Knowing when the right time is, and what the right action might be, is all dependent on placing more trust in data.
Use predictive analytics to personalize the user journey
Using data effectively is the key to going beyond understanding consumer trends by predicting user behavior. That’s what predictive analytics does; it uses machine-learning algorithms to understand why online visitors are on a website, and to predict what they’re going to do next. Three UK uses predictive analytics to determine which contact channels should be served to each unique online visitor, and records the data from individual customer journeys to inform offline contacts in the call center. In the words of Three’s sales manager Eleanor O’Donnell, it “changed the way that we do business, and the way that we sell.”
Break down internal silos
Investments in intelligent solutions that promote personalization work best when they are deployed in agile and open work environments. Companies need to break away from traditional, siloed team structures in order to embrace the collaboration needed to foster better relationships with consumers. The development of “agile pods” has helped The Hershey Company to secure its footing in an increasingly omnichannel-dominated environment, a success reflected in CMO Peter Horst’s enthusiasm for a more actively innovative work environment, “you have someone from PR, someone from social, a digital technologist, a copywriter, and a brand strategist all sitting together in real time co-creating, executing, testing, sharing, learning.”
Continually evaluate competitors’ sites
Change is the only reliable constant in CX trends. So it’s always worth keeping a keen eye trained on how your competitors are adapting. Use a tool like Ghostery to see which trackers are embedded on their sites to get a better understanding of how they’re tracking and using behavioral data. Test to see if they’re using dynamic numbers that connect you directly with an advisor in the call center to see if they’re learning from online data. And visit their sites to test if you’re offered different contact channel treatments depending on your behavior. All of these are signs that a company is working hard to improve the customer experience, and build consumer loyalty, through personalization.
Now Interact is a leading omnichannel technology vendor which is dedicated to accelerating the digitization of sales and service. Its Artificial Intelligence solutions use machine-learning algorithms to gain a real-time understanding of each unique online customer journey, personalizing the contact channels that each visitor is offered based on their specific behavioral traits.