As our modern society has placed so much value in technology and information, customers today have gained the ability to look behind the curtain and understand when a company is perceiving them as a data point rather than an individual human being.
The tactics that companies may have made use of in the past no longer work to the same extent as customers,particularly the younger generations who have been marketed to in this manner their entire lives, have undeniably become more perceptive. Mass marketing is simply no longer viable to businesses aiming to be customer-centric.
As mentioned in our previous article on the modern influence of Millennials and Generation Z, many customers today are desiring for more personal and valuable interactions with brands.They want interactions that are more than merely transactional.
The modern customer’s digital interactions have dramatically shifted: we’re constantly bombarded with information, whether it be through constant advertising, push notifications or scrolling through endless feeds of short-form content on social media.
This constant stream of information has shortened attention spans, making it vital to immediately grasp the customer’s attention. When customers receive impersonal interactions that are completely irrelevant to their needs, they’ll quickly understand they’re being marketed to and move on without a second thought. This highlights the utmost necessity for brands to understand the value of high-quality personalisation and embed it deep into their relationship with the customer.
Personalisation is the tailoring of a brand’s outreach to appeal and accommodate the individual needs of a customer, based on their personal information that the brand possesses. It’s a method that strengthens the customer-brand relationship, as the customer feels they’re being listened to, understood, and taken into deep consideration by the brand when developing experiences.
Engaging customers is more competitive than ever
In her “Journey to Centricity” book, Ilenia Vidili points out that the top competitors in almost every digital sector are the ones who provide a high-quality experience for the user that is personalised at its core. She states:
“Personalisation can save your customers time and grab their attention in the three-second world so that they don’t have to filter through the myriad of information out there. Spotify, Amazon and Netflix have raised the bar when it comes to the personalisation that customers now expect.”
In this ‘three-second world’, it’s personalised experiences that most resonate with customers, and why wouldn’t they? Creating an experience that is intricately tailored to a user’s preferences should be the very definition of customer centricity.
Businesses can use personalisation to their benefit in multiple ways: Spotify and Netflix transformed streaming experiences with AI-curated recommendations that learn from the media the user consumes, helping to nurture the relationship through a mutual understanding of their likes and dislikes. As well as this, personalised emails to customers after purchases on e-commerce platforms can assist massively in increasing repeat engagement and brand affinity.
Personalisation really isn’t even just a desired preference any more: it’s the norm that customers have come to expect in the digital age, thanks to the premium quality that the big players like Spotify and Netflix have ingrained into the core of their services. Ilenia notes the modern necessity for high-quality personalisation:
“Personalisation is not just about getting the customer’s name right in a newsletter (although that is important); its more about getting into the interests, emotions,values, dreams, concerns, pains, etc. of that particular customer.”
The Next in Personalisation 2021 Report (https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/the-value-of-getting-personalization-right-or-wrong-is-multiplying) displayed that 72% of customers expect the businesses they interact with to recognise them as individuals and have an understanding of their interests. To engage audiences in a customer-centric way, brands should be heavily inclined to move beyond a solely product-oriented vision, and engage with their customer holistically to stay relevant in their minds. This is more important than ever in the world of infinite choice and instant gratification that we inhabit.
Using data to personalise experiences
The importance of personalisation certainly has not been understated, but how can abrand successfully deliver personalised experiences to their customers? The answer lies in comprehensive, insightful, and ethical use of data.
Everything is data and thus, data is everywhere. Every possible digital interaction creates data that can then be collected and analysed into information that companies can use to create personalised experiences for their customers.
The gathering of data can then be shared across the company’s departments to build a unified and holistic customer-centric vision and gauge methods of appealing to customer missions.
The fine line between trustworthy and creepy
It’s important to not lose control and cross boundaries when thinking about personalisation,as the point of contention is just how easy it can be for brands to get it wrong.
Many readers have undoubtedly experienced a moment of confusion or wariness over a company reaching out with just a bit too much detail, enough to prompt questions of “how did they get this information?”, or simply “why are they using this?”.
For example, the usage of location data is a notoriously controversial for customers,as a report found that 72% of consumers found receiving advertisements based off their geolocation from companies they don’t know to be unsettling.
Receiving targeted ads from an online storefront for merely being in the general vicinity of one of their physical stores is undeniably creepy, and feelings like these are something a customer-centric brand will never want to provide their audience with!
In the modern landscape, it’s clear that a vast number of businesses don’t use personalisation effectively. Despite the outspoken desire from customers for empathic and personal interactions, companies are still prone to putting profit first by using personalisation as an undisguised sales tactic rather than a genuine attempt to build valuable relationships.
When a company aimlessly throws all the data they have on a customer when interacting with them, they will likely feel harassed rather than pleased with the level of personalisation applied. When customers become overwhelmed and uncomfortable with bad personalisation, trust is broken and they’re certainly liable to abandoning the brand altogether.
Trust is an invaluable aspect of a customer-brand relationship,and once broken it can be extraordinarily difficult to regain. The use of customer data is an area that is quickly receiving more ethical regulations, as customers will simply disengage when brands cross the line from personable to entirely uncomfortable.
Therefore, to protect the trust present between brand and customer, it’s important to only collect data that is relevant and important to the customer’s needs. The usage of any irrelevant information does nothing to fulfil your mission and merely serves to make your customer uncomfortable and fracture the relationship.
Customers want to be treated like humans, and if a brand’s digital practices are not tailored to the individual customer’s preferences, it can often become difficult to push through and make a lasting impression in a world where individuality is valued so highly.
Keeping customer attention is a more difficult and competitive mission than ever, and many companies constantly risk souring the customer-brand relationship through personalisation that is anything but personal!
This is exactly why it’s vital for organisations to possess a true vision of customer centricity when designing for personalisation, as although there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every individual, the modern customer won’t settle for being treated than anything less than a valued human being.