Meet My Friends: Personalization and Customer Experience

Want to build customer loyalty? Start here.

Much is written about personalization and customer experience – the two are natural bedfellows – and if we believe much of what we read, we would be forgiven for thinking that both are highly sophisticated and mature.

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Current attempts at personalization are both one dimensional and reactive.

Both are the product of much development and investment, consequently delivering that most elusive of factors: customer stickability or loyalty.

In truth, while there’s no doubting that retailers increasingly understand they must make a significant commitment to both, that hasn’t translated to action.

Use your resources

Current attempts at personalization are both one dimensional and reactive, at best relying on calendar entries and smart mirrors to create an illusion of personalized engagement.

As an example, I recently received (through my letterbox no less) a card from a well-known national florist, reminding me that it was my mother’s birthday soon and suggesting which flower arrangement I may wish to send. I thanked them for their interest, informing them that my mother had passed away nine months ago.

Now, I hear you asking: How on earth are they expected to know that my mother had passed away?

My response? Don’t be lazy. True personalization is knowing your customer and engaging in a relevant, contextual manner –not simply relying on calendar prompts and firing off unsolicited mailshots.

Show me that you can engage in a relevant manner, and I will happily provide the information necessary to give you the context.

Simple tracking of social media can provide deep insights into many different aspects of our lives – how we are feeling, if we are on holiday, our interests, our priorities, even what mood we are in. And what’s more, as consumers, many of us are willing to pay for what we expect as the new normal.

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True personalization is knowing your customer and engaging in a relevant, contextual manner.

According to a Deloitte report, The Rise of Mass Personalization, one in five consumers who expressed an interest in personalized products or services are willing to pay a 20-percent premium.

What does it all mean?

The implications are clear and serious for retailers who do not embrace the technology required to deliver a personalized experience for their customers.

Never before have we, as consumers, been so demanding, so willing to drop a brand and move to the competition without hesitation. And what’s more, our expectations keep growing exponentially.

Only those retailers who understand this will survive. The outlook for the remainder is bleak.

This article first appeared on Retail Reflections and was republished with permission.

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Andrew Busby is Founder and CEO of Retail Reflections and an IBM Futurist.

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