Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the collaborators are his.
Customer needs are evolving at a breakneck pace in the digital world. When the pandemic pushed companies to complete their digital transformation, brands focused heavily on addressing technical weaknesses and eliminating friction on digital platforms. A smooth digital journey was once a differentiator for businesses, but now it is a requirement, a basic necessity. A total of 90% of customers expect a perfect experience, regardless of where the point of contact takes place.
To gain a real competitive advantage in today’s environment, digital companies need to elevate their customers ’travel to prioritize personalized experiences. Personalization is the next “must-have” for the customer experience that will define 2022 and 2023. In the last two years, 73% of companies have increased their personalization efforts in their customer experiences.
Why do customers expect a personalized experience? What can companies do to offer personalization effectively and what would be the consequences of not doing so? Keep reading to learn how to relate personally to customers.
Related: The future is “digital”: what customer experience experts need to know
Consumers now expect a personalized experience
Customers want to be seen as more than just a transaction – they want to build a relationship with a brand and expect it to fit their specific preferences.
According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, 71% of customers expect companies to offer personalized interactions and 76% are frustrated when do not do it receive a personalized experience. Several studies have shown the consequences of not properly adapting and curating the customer experience: most consumers reported that they may not buy from a retailer if the brand is wrong with personalization.
Customers believe that personalization enhances their business experience. Customers are more likely to convert, interact with messages, and recommend brands that offer personalized experiences.
Personalization has become so significant to customers that almost three-quarters of consumers appreciate that companies use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant, as long as their personal data is not compromised externally. As regulations tighten and data privacy sensitivities increase, this stimulus should be highlighted.
Understanding the evolution of customer preferences and expectations, companies must live up to the opportunity and offer personalized contact points along the customer’s holistic journey. In short, each customer interaction must be personalized.
Related: What to do and what not to do to deal with consumers in the digital space
How to use data to drive personalization
Each brand’s journey toward successful personalization begins with data. In order to tailor the digital experience to each customer, companies must first understand who that customer is. Personal interactions, preferences, shopping history, name, location, and more than one customer can report personal interactions.
Businesses need to think about personalization in a holistic and cohesive way – most customers are interacting with brands across channels and expect to be served, regardless of whether they sign in to their computer or mobile device.
A holistic approach to personalization requires a personalized approach to data collection and analysis. Digital Experience Intelligence (DXI) platforms capture and analyze 100% of customer interactions throughout the digital journey from end to end. Powered by AI, DXI can sort millions of data points in minutes to provide useful information. Not only is this essential for maintaining a seamless digital platform, it also immediately alerts computers to technical errors and anomalies, but DXI can also be a valuable tool for accelerating customization.
Customer data collected and analyzed by DXI platforms can be used to implement personal and personalized contact points across platforms, while measuring the success and involvement of each contact point. This data is invaluable as it allows teams to collaborate with agility, as they use a single source of truth. Customization on digital platforms is most effective when engineers, merchandising professionals, UX designers, IT, sales teams, and marketing experts work closely together.
The right data tools can also help solve some of the biggest barriers for companies to customize the customer experience: data management and data analytics. A total of 67% of retailers report that their biggest challenge in personalization is the collection, integration and synthesis of customer data.
If a business is overwhelmed with the idea of customizing each interaction, it should start small with a few impactful moments (selected using existing customer data) and then escalate to full customization over time. The more data a company uses as personalization grows, the greater its profitability.
Related: 4 customer experience trends that your business needs to consider
What do consumers want from their personalized experience?
Customers want to be recognized by the companies they buy from. They expect brands to get to know them and their interests. In the aforementioned McKinsey & Company study, when consumers were asked to define personalization, respondents said they “associate it with positive experiences of feeling special.”
Examples of personalized positive contact points in the digital experience include:
- Hyperlocal stock information in stores close to the customer
- Relevant product / service recommendations based on your shopping / browsing history and demographics
- Communications aimed specifically at the customer
- Special attention / incorporation after the first purchase
- Directed promotions
- Celebrating a customer’s milestones
- Post-purchase check
Related: Why a “personal” customer experience is critical to the success of your business
The benefits of creating a personalized experience
Personalization can increase revenue, build customer loyalty, and accelerate growth. Companies that prioritize personalized digital experiences are more likely to grow faster than those that don’t.
According to one report, 86% of consumers say that personalization plays an important role in their purchasing decisions. Customization efforts increase customer satisfaction and engagement rates. Customers are more likely to buy from companies with personal contact points and come back and buy again later. When implemented successfully, personalized customer journeys reduce sales and marketing costs by 10 to 20%.
The competitive advantage now lies in the ability of a company to evolve the customer experience so that it is personalized. Brands need to innovate in new ways to make their customers feel special and to build relationships with each person they become.