Why Delivering Personalized Customer Experiences is More Crucial than Ever
Updated: Nov 14, 2022
What Your Customers Actually Want
Consumer priorities and interests spin and change constantly in the new digital world. This was highlighted at the start of the pandemic when companies quickly adapted and focused on ensuring all customers had smooth online experiences. Having a compelling digital presence used to be a differentiator for retailers and e-commerce organizations. However, now it is a basic requirement for companies to provide frictionless online experiences. What consumers want more than ever now are personalized online experiences that are tailored just for them. Consumers want to feel special and be seen as more than just a transaction. What companies need to do now is prioritize personalized experiences within their customer journeys.
Consumers shopping online have individual preferences. Just like in-store shopping, consumers have likes and dislikes. They are searching for items that are specific to them and they want them immediately.
Organizations adopting the personalized approach online have recognized that digital strategy efforts must be connected to an individual. Being able to provide that experience requires companies to access behavioral data surrounding each individual. This means you have to know their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and interests - then deliver centralized campaigns and products that are connected to each consumer.
Using Data to Drive Personalization
Customization can only be implemented when consumer data is retrieved, so companies have to strategize how to gather data around each individual person. A way organizations collect information about individuals is through account creation. This is when customers create an account through an online service and vital data is collected through personal questions. Oftentimes, companies provide incentives for customers to share their details and create accounts. They do this to develop a sense of loyalty for their customers, but also so they can gather information and tailor experiences.
Elissa Quinby, Senior Director of Retail Marketing Strategy at Quantum Metric, says that while getting a prospect or customer to create an account may be difficult, it is a necessary and rewarding step in customer acquisition. By creating an account and saving essential information such as previous shipping addresses, the entire shopping process becomes simple and faster - especially during key moments like the checkout.
Customers who frequent a retailer want their information saved so their experience is seamless. While saving billing and shipping information creates easy experiences, customers are more willing to provide information about their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and style preferences - rather than demographic and transactional information. This is okay though, but retailers need to ensure that whenever a customer gives a new piece of information, they immediately start to deliver value with that information in mind. For example, a customer says during account creation that they like the Boho style. That customer should start seeing more Boho recommendations across the shopping journey.
“When you have permission [to track data], you can create a unique experience for every customer and that will keep them coming back.”
- Sharon Glenn, Chief Content Officer at 6° Media.
Gathering Data Through Digital Customer Intelligence
Account creation is one way to acquire individual preference data; however, it is arguably the most difficult, especially for prospective customers. Organizations must collect this data on their own - and by partnering with digital customer experience companies, they are able to gain insights into more behavioral data.
Personalization needs to be at-scale and real-time, so with a customer experience intelligence platform, you can use behavioral signals to drive deeper personalization. Lack of real-time monitoring can result in revenue loss or wasted ad spend, while real-time monitoring can proactively identify course corrections for campaigns in flight. This means that companies that can identify in real-time how behaviors are affecting their campaigns can be more proactive in their approach. For example, JCPenney, a customer of Quantum Metric, has been able to get more out of its retargeting spending with deeper insights into what happened during a customer session. They do this by accessing behavioral signals to drive audience-specific remarketing, e.g., customers who struggled online or saw an out-of-stock message.
Let's say you sell t-shirts - but every time I go to your site, I look up "men's funny shirts." Since I am a female, you can infer that either I like wearing men's funny shirts or I buy for someone else. You could then ask, Are these for you or a gift? If they are a gift, in my cart you can offer things like gift receipts, shipping to another address, and wrapping. When I enter the site, you can show funny men's shirts first and suggest funny couple's shirts. If I answer that I like to wear them, you can suggest other types of men's T-shirts that I might like.
- Sharon Glenn, Chief Content Officer at 6° Media.
For retailers, deeper customer journey insights can be your competitive advantage. Justin Richmond, Chief Digital Officer of lululemon, said,
Quantum Metric has allowed us to actually watch a session for any piece of qualitative feedback, trace it back to whether it was a bad UX design or if the site was not behaving as it should, and then size the opportunity to prioritize it appropriately. Quantum Metric has helped lululemon systematically chip away at checkout errors, which has impacted millions of dollars in revenue.
How lululemon and JCPenney Use Insights to Increase Revenue
Companies like JCPenney and lululemon prioritize their marketing efforts and drive deep personalization efforts by identifying customers' digital behaviors. Revenue increases through acquisitions and conversions by collecting proprietary customer IDs (CIDs) or other unique identifiers captured from a client by Quantum Metric and then associated with a session replay.
Session replay is an advanced technology tool that allows you to view a customer's session exactly how they experienced it. Many companies use this technology to monitor and improve the user experience on web, mobile, or kiosk applications.
A customer ID is an identifier that gets put on a session. It can come from anywhere, be assigned randomly, or be specific to the user. It's just an identifier and some people use this ID to connect data between systems. So a customer ID assigned on the web (like from QM, Adobe, Google, etc.) might be used to find a customer feedback survey in Qualtrics or a customer record in a CRM system like Salesforce. Once the customer is identified across systems, it can be used for personalization (because we then "know" who the customer is and can give them curated content).
By incorporating customer ID in marketing campaigns, your audience gets more personalized content based on their interests and activity. You get a stronger ROI in your advertising budget while your customers get more relevant ads for their interests.
Digital Personalization is the New Norm
Collecting that data is more important than ever, but companies must deliver empathy and treat their customers like humans - or their customers will just become some number. They need to be able to do this at scale, and they need to be able to do it quickly. The ramifications of poor digital experiences can cost millions of dollars, and the move to deep personalization is on the rise.
If your organization is not prioritizing personalization at scale with deep human connection, your teams will struggle with providing customer-centric and data-driven experiences. Your organization will constantly be putting out fires and making decisions that do not keep the most pressing issues at the forefront of your digital strategy - ultimately negatively impacting the customer.
About 6° Media
If you want to create a digital culture for your company that wins over customers' hearts, 6° Media is here to help. Contact our team if you want to increase brand awareness and improve your customer experience strategies in this crazy digital world.
* Posted with permission from B. Flores