In a memo to his employees last year, Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks, said, “Please recognize this and as you always have – remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day.”1 He was acknowledging the fact that brands must strive harder, consistently and continuously, to win customer loyalty in the digital age.
Loyalty, today, has moved beyond offering discounts or creating membership plans in a bid to improving customer experience and building emotional resonance. To make sure organizations earn loyalty they must connect the dots when it comes to customer actions – both online and offline.
Personalization enables brands to build emotional resonance by using data to provide more personalized and targeted products, services and content. Today, many believe personalization is a misnomer considering the rise of hyper-personalization, which is more granular and built on one-to-one interactions.
Customers today demand relevance and real value from marketing in exchange for loyalty. The true value of personalization can only be harnessed when organizations work on capabilities that are founded on enhancing Customer Experience (CX).
Here are 5 ways in which brands can personalize customer experience:
1. Design a Data-driven Culture
Brands today need a single source of truth about customers. Integrating data is essential to building that. Organizations must design a data-driven culture where data doesn’t reside in silos, rather it should be easily accessible across the board, so it enables marketers to analyze and act on the data in real-time.
To develop a data-driven culture, brands need to measure everything that can be quantified and that can convert data to smart insights. A data-driven mindset will enable brands to hyper-personalize products, services and content and earn customer loyalty.
2. Invest in Customer Profiling
By integrating first-party insights garnered from social logins, brands can provide customers with a more holistic experience. Marketers can also leverage Data Management Platforms (DMP) to gather data from internal and external sources.
With DMP, brands can design a personalized customer journey by creating dynamic experiences leveraging cross-devices and targeting cross-channel campaign execution and advanced analytics. The importance of customer profiling is evident from a recent survey by The Relevancy Group, which found that 39 percent of senior marketers planned to use data management platform within next year2.
3. Map Customer Journeys
Today, every consumer is retargeted by an advertisement for items they have shown interest in and receives a promotional e-mail customized with their names. Customer experience has become more complex as it spans multiple channels and devices. For brands, one solid interaction is not enough to constitute effective personalization.
Personalization should permeate customer experience at every touch point. Personalized customer journeys start with an in-depth understanding of the customer base and a strategy that aligns with it. Brands must set expectations and deliver on the brand promise.
As Harley Manning, Research Director, Customer Experience Practice, Forrester, rightly says, “Before you can even start thinking about how to delight a specific customer, you have to think about what all of your customers expect from the brand.”3
Even before a customer makes a purchase when they visit your site, they search with keywords that are relevant to your brand and they view different products. Marketers should be able to leverage these behavioral patterns and preferences to design a personalized customer journey.
4. Automate with Analytics
Do organizations know what their customers will do next? With predictive analytics, organizations can preempt customer needs. Predictive analytics can automate decisions real-time based on learned behavior to improve customer behavior and profitability. Beyond predictive analytics, organizations are also experimenting with machine learning to find trends, detect trends and cluster or categorize information. Irrespective of whether you use cognitive computing, machine learning or predictive analytics, you will still require human input, judgment, and expertise to produce results.
5. Measure and Maximize
Through the purchase cycle covering multiple touch points, a customer can feel delighted, indifferent or disgusted. Sentiment analysis allows brands to mine opinions and respond to customer feedback. Brands can also use social listening to gather insights into content, test product ideas and more. A study by Oracle found that 86 percent of the customers are willing to pay higher for a great customer experience and are already doing so.Brands will only be able to personalize customer experience effectively when they have metrics that can be measured and improved upon.
Personalization, when done right, can deliver five to eight times the Return on Investment (ROI) on marketing spend, and can lift sales by 10% or more, according to a McKinsey research titled ‘Big Data, Analytics, and the Future of Marketing & Sales’.4Personalizing customer experience requires organizations to develop an ecosystem that connects insights to outcomes as part of a continuous learning cycle.