“Personalization is personal only when I feel and experience it. Thus, personalization done right doesn’t look like marketing.”- Uma Talreja, Chief Digital Officer, Raymond.
The above quote aptly describes what personalization should feel like to the customer. The market today is full of empowered and demanding, albeit not so loyal customers. Technological advancement has made the market highly competitive. If your response time is slower than the response time of your competition, there is a high possibility that the customer would immediately move to your competition. The customer today has less time and more than adequate options and the loops marketers are jumping through every day; is to gain the attention of the customer. Now a customer’s attention can be gained in two ways, a) Carpet bombing and harassing the customer to the point that they pay you attention enough to permanently block you b) Communicating with the customer in a way that makes them feel cared for and understood.
Making the customer feel unique is easier said than done. Marketers are still grappling with how to make customer experience seamless, how to ensure the customer feels listened to? These questions lead to more questions, how does one assimilate customer data so that it makes sense? How to best approach the customer? How does one create systems to map customer journey? How is B2B personalization different from B2C personalization? Here are a few things that can be done:
Single View of the Customer: Practitioners and framework developers all over have been urging brands to have a single view of the customer. That is instead of looking at the customer through the fragmented understanding of different departments; one must merge all this data to create one avatar of the customer. Dealing with data is enough to scare any marketer but the solution comes in the wise words of Amol Oberoi, Head- Digital Marketing, Hilti India; “Don’t freak out about data. You don’t have to assimilate it all in one go.” It’s as simple as that. A customer leaves behind a wealth of data on the different platforms he/she interacts with you. It is not necessary to accumulate all that data at once but it is necessary for all departments dealing with the customer to talk to each other.
This maybe a little easier for B2B as the customer is a business whose requirements would largely be uniform. It gets difficult for B2C because of a high possibility of missing data, contradictory or different data at different portals.
Customer Journey Maps: If you as a brand haven’t started on ensuring that all your customer dealing departments are collaborating with each other to identify the difficulties a customer may face as the process is moved from one department to another, you need to start now! Customer Journey Maps are the Holy Grail to understanding the customer and his/her experience with your organization at all key touch points. There is no hard and fast rule of creating a map; you can create it according to the needs of your brand.
Conversations with Customer: Instead of just sending a mail/message/push notification at your time to achieve your work target focus on the customer. When do most customers check their mails/click on links sent through messages or push notifications? Most analytics tools would be able to give you this data. Instead of sending every message that you have; understand the customer’s expectations. A great example is this instance from the movie “Maid in Manhattan” where the hotel searched on the preferences of its client and set up her room accordingly, including putting a spring of lavender on her pillow, just the way she liked. Of course! One doesn’t have to go to such great lengths but even little things that make the client feel being attended to, can go a long way.
Benefits of Personalization:
• Customer Retention: If a customer feels unique by associating with you. There are more chances that they will stay with you.
• Customer Acquisition: Personalization for a new customer may lead to future meaningful interactions. A little discount for the first buy may encourage the customer to engage with you more. If the customer is near your shop, a little message encouraging them to visit you may get you a new customer.
• Conversion: There are close to 10 times better chances of conversion through personalized communication. In 2013, a U.S. Research firm found out that 75% of Americans would shop at a store which gives them a customized experience. Switch to 2017, where customer experience has gone digital; personalization is the one aspect that hasn’t changed.
• Reduction in Promotional Cost: If you personalize not just content but the channel at which the customer receives this content, you reduce your promotional cost. With today’s analytics tools, it is easy to track which channel of communication say mail, message etc does the customer respond to the most. All the brand has to do now is to send most of its communication through that channel, at the customer’s preferred times and voila! Not just a reduction in promotional costs, but also a very high chance of conversion.
• Gets you attention: In today’s world the customer is bombarded with spam mails and messages all over. In such a scenario your thoughtful, meaningful, and unobtrusive communication makes the customer trust you. So, communication from you would not be pushed aside as spam. Your communication channels would not be blocked out of irritation.
The world is already moving towards digital and personalized solutions. The customer is at the heart of the marketer’s world. Disruptive ideas are already shaking markets and well established businesses. There is this restaurant in Ahmedabad a part of a restaurant chain managed by a charming fellow, who readily prepares a patron’s meals, according to their taste, including dishes that aren’t even on the menu. They also serve complimentary desserts during each visit. You won’t get the same service in any other restaurant of the same chain, which makes this little restaurant extremely popular among patrons. What is great is that top level management never discouraged their employee from trying out a new idea to retain customers. This is key to personalization; leaders have to let their employees be creative while developing a personalized experience for the client.