If you mentioned these words to pretty much anyone, they would probably all agree that they were important. But, ask them what they mean and, depending on whom you ask, you are likely to get several different answers.
I think the same is true of personalization in customer experience (CX).
If you ask marketers, almost all of them report that personalization positively impacts customer relationships and, when done well, drives improvement in customer satisfaction, engagement and acquisition as well as increased revenue and retention.
The same is true of customers, with around 90% reporting that they find marketing personalization very or somewhat appealing. A similar number reports they are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations.
These findings are all echoed in NTT’s 2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report. But, the report warns that “organizations and consumers have different views of what personalization means”, with consumers saying that personalization is “not about how well the organization knows them, but how well the organization is listening to them, and how efficiently and effectively they respond to needs.”
The NTT report goes on to say that “Consumers are more interested in being able to choose how they engage with organizations – and having those choices respected – than receiving what organizations think are helpful reminders, or proactive offerings in an attempt to upsell or cross-sell to them. They’re also wary about sharing personal data so companies can send them personalized information.”
So, while there might be an acknowledgement of the importance of personalization on both sides, there seems to be a lack of a shared understanding of what personalization really means.
Much of this misunderstanding can be attributed to the quality of data that brands have on customers. According to a Harris Poll survey on Customer Experience Gaps, sponsored by Redpoint Global, it found that 51% of U.S. consumers say “brands are failing to personalize their experiences because data they have on them is not accurate or up-to-date.”
Given these personalization and data accuracy issues, marketers would do well to work harder and go further to build a deeper understanding of their customers, their preferences and what a personalized experience means for them.
That will require them not only to collect more data. But also to seek out better data.
Squaring these two things is not hard and can be solved by the marketers that are willing to get out from behind their desks and to go out and talk to customers.
For the willing, they should start with questions like:
- What does personalization mean to you?
- What are your preferences around data and security?
- Which pieces of personal information are you happy for us to use?
- Are you happy for us to use your data to allow us to be more proactive?
- Are you happy to self serve?
- Do you want to be able to speak to somebody when you contact us?
Asking those questions will allow them to collect up to date and accurate as well as meaningful data around different customers and their preferences surrounding privacy, marketing campaigns, customer choice, data protection and security.
Moreover, acting on this new data is likely to show customers that some brands are listening. They, in turn, will likely reward them with their custom.
However, for those unwilling marketers, there is a danger that they’ll still be talking about personalization next year and how important it is but will be no further forward in understanding what it is or means to their customers.