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Creating a foundation of trust to deliver personalized experiences

Tom Madden, Emily Merkle

Personalization is table stakes, whether you’re an early-stage start-up or an award-winning brand that people have loved for generations. A personal relationship—a sense of specificity and attention that extends beyond a generic email sign-off—is good but not enough where consumer experiences are concerned.

Personalization must encompass more than just the customer’s basic wants. It should extend to their preferences regarding communication channels and cadence and encompass everything from the on-site experience to web chat and customer service interactions.

Today’s digitally savvy consumers have elevated expectations. To engender real customer loyalty, brands can’t simply meet those expectations; they must exceed them to win the hearts and minds of consumers with endless options. Building this sort of relationship with consumers requires a thoughtful, intelligent, and seamless user experience at every point of the customer’s journey.

Brands must give consumers a tangible feeling that they are recognized and understood without stepping over the line and coming off creepy. There are a few key considerations to keep in mind to hit this sweet spot.

Caring for privacy in personalization

Digital acceleration is fueling the evolution of customer expectations. The challenge for brands is to meet those rising expectations via innovation and new AI technologies, with increasingly personalized and targeted experiences across the entire customer journey. However, these elevated expectations come with profound consumer skepticism around sharing the data that powers those well-tailored experiences. Many consumers, concerned about the increase in fraud, spam, and identity theft, are understandably hesitant to share their personal information.

Brands must establish trust by being good stewards of their customers’ data and providing the correct value exchange for the data they elect to share. Most consumers are willing to share information with brands if they believe it will result in more exclusive experiences, personalized recommendations, or services geared to their preferences.

Ask yourself what your customers are getting in exchange for their data and whether that value is proportional to the information they provide. If that equation looks one-sided, your customer is feeling it. Striking the right balance requires a customer-centric approach driven by the relentless pursuit to build more meaningful and authentic relationships.

The right strategy as a foundation

Brands should invest their time and resources correctly so they don’t waste customer time or hamper personalization.

We can divide brand behaviors that risk hampering, or even damaging, customer personalization into three major baskets:

  • Haphazard client recommendations or flavor-of-the-week technology solutions can do more harm than good if they misunderstand the customer’s needs.
  • Not having the right loyalty or customer relationship management (CRM) strategy can cause major setbacks to personalization efforts.
  • If your brand lacks a sound customer experience (CX) strategy as a foundation, your personalization efforts will inevitably flounder.

The strategy should drive the technology, not the other way around. New data and fresh insights should refine and inform any successful strategy. And brands should embrace an ongoing feedback loop that identifies areas for improvement or optimization in real-time to ensure successful outcomes.

Customers are continually evolving. Going beyond mere engagement to drive participation means your brand needs to evolve right alongside consumers. To craft the intuitive experiences that customers crave, you must pair the right strategy with the right technology. This will provide a solid foundation to cultivate reciprocal relationships that remain strong through periods of disruption and stand the test of time.

Boost your in-house capabilities with outside help

Brands should lean into advanced predictive analytics to deliver personalized experiences and communications at scale. Partnering with a company that has deep experience in data augmentation, AI, and machine learning will equip your brand with the information you need to drive intelligent, real-time decisioning. It will allow you to anticipate the impact of different marketing programs and leverage technology and strategy to analyze and illustrate program performance without sacrificing specificity. By partnering with the right people and using the right cutting edge technology you can forecast brand developments with precision and plot a clear path toward brand success.

Scaling an individualized experience, which reflects a 360-degree view of the customer, to a massive audience is a formidable challenge for most brands. Choosing a partner with a proven track record of excellence across a variety of fields, such as CRM strategy, loyalty analytics, customer engagement, and loyalty technology, will ensure a seamless end-to-end experience for your customers. And that will translate to measurable returns for your business, no matter the size or the industry.