Hyper-personalisation: The future of customer experience?by
According to Salesforce’s 2020 State of the Connected Customer report, nearly 70% of business customers and over half of consumers want companies to better understand their needs.
No surprise, is it? After all, the better a brand understands you and your expectations - and shows that they do so by their interactions with you - the more relevant that brand is to you.
In other words, some level of personalization must be “business as usual” for a brand to survive (much less thrive) in today’s business environment.
As important as personalisation is, many traditional methods - think customising touchpoints and interactions across customer journeys by segment or persona - don’t go far enough in our increasingly omnichannel, real-time environment to stand out.
This is why hyper-personalisation is taking off; it takes personalisation to the “next level” by leveraging technology to personalize at scale while much more deeply tailoring individual customer experiences based on the actions that each customer is taking in the moment.
As the name implies, hyper-personalisation is way beyond ‘personalisation’
Personalisation is anything you can do to develop experiences (e.g. products, services, interactions) to meet customers’ unique and individual requirements.
Traditionally relying on things like demographic, psychographic, and customer value data, the goal is to engage with them as individuals rather than as customer types or segments. A simple example? Including customer names in email subject lines.
But since most brands use personalisation in some form today, it’s no longer a differentiator but table stakes. That’s why leading data- and digitally-driven brands are taking personalisation to the next level with hyper-personalisation.
Going well beyond regular personalisation, hyper-personalisation uses technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), real-time data, and predictive analytics to tap into individual customer wants and needs.
It hones in on specific behaviours to reach customers in new and more relevant ways to tailor individualized experiences to and for each customer.
The technologies driving hyper-personalisation today
Most of these technologies are interrelated, meaning that (for example) real-time data without AI or ML to interpret it and suggest next-best offers, interactions, etc., is only part of the total solution. Some of the most common technologies powering hyper-personalisation include:
- Real-time data: For every digital action we take, a company can “see” what we’re doing by gathering and analysing the data surrounding that action. A constant stream of real-time data gives us the signals we need to best leverage customer needs and behaviors in ways that can immediately improve their experience.
- Artificial intelligence: AI can help you interpret the signals that your real-time data is sending. By understanding the vast number of datapoints surrounding customer interactions, you can personalise interactions along that customer journey “in the moment” to provide them exactly what they’re most likely to want.
- Advanced, predictive analytics: Real-time data and AI capture and interpret what’s happening now. Leveraging these tools in combination with advanced analytics helps you determine what customers will want in the future by looking at current and historical data patterns, helping you react appropriately.
Balancing personalisation and privacy
Customers enjoy personalised experiences, but not at the loss of privacy. In fact, privacy may be a differentiator; according to recent research from Accenture, 58% of consumers would switch at least half their spending to a provider that excels in personalising experiences without compromising trust.
For companies wishing to provide customers exactly what they’re looking for, when and how they’re looking for it, privacy and personalisation is a series of trade-offs that need to be carefully considered. And no, “transparently” communicating your policies in (never read) terms-of-service docs doesn’t count.
Doing the right thing - as defined by your customers - does.
Be open and honest, and leverage your data to ensure that you’re appropriately balancing the trade-offs that hyper-personalisation and privacy demand… from the customer’s perspective.
Hyper-personalisation in the years ahead
The personalisation capabilities brought on by the digital age have revolutionised marketing, sales and service. In many cases, brands can build “real” human connections with their customers without, well, humans.
And it’s only just beginning. Just as personalisation was a game changer a decade ago, hyper-personalisation is a game changer today with tools like real-time journey orchestration and optimisation driving one-to-one personalisation at scale.
Tomorrow? Who knows… but just as it’s a certainty that hyper-personalisation is where forward-leaning, digitally adept brands are focused today, it’s just a step along the experience improvement journey. As technology, competitors, and increasingly digitally adept customers continue to accelerate, adapt, and learn, your company needs to do so as well.
That’s why the only way to get (and stay) ahead of your customers and the market is to embrace change and agile innovation and to become adept at leveraging technology and data to ensure that you know your customers better than any competitor possibly could. In turn, you’ll consistently provide them the ever-more highly personalised and relevant experiences that prove it.
Michael Hinshaw is Founder and President of McorpCX, a customer experience consultancy and services firm based in the San Francisco area, working with enterprises across the globe. An innovative executive, speaker, educator, and...