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Hyper-Personalization: The Future of Customer Experience?
Radically boost brand relevance while improving experience for your customers
According to Salesforce’s 2020 State of the Connected Customer report, nearly 70 percent of business customers and more than 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 personalization is, many traditional methods—think customizing touchpoints and interactions across customer journeys by segment or persona—don’t go far enough. We live in an increasingly omni-channel world of real-time offers, options, and decisions, and companies that understand this environment are the ones that stand out.
This is why hyper-personalization is taking off; it takes personalization to the next level, by leveraging technology to personalize at scale, while more deeply tailoring individual customer experiences based on the actions that each customer is taking in the moment.
As the name implies, Hyper-Personalization is way beyond ‘Personalization’
Personalization is anything you can do to develop experiences (i.e. products, services, interactions) to meet customers’ unique and individual requirements. Traditionally relying on demographic, psychographic, and customer value data, the goal is to gather enough information to engage with customers as individuals, rather than as segments or vague customer types. One simple example of this? Including customer names in email subject lines.
But since most brands use personalization in some form today, it’s now just “table stakes”...not a big differentiator. That’s why leading data- and digitally-driven brands are taking personalization to the next level with hyper-personalization.
Going well beyond regular personalization, hyper-personalization 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 behaviors to reach customers in new and more relevant ways to tailor individualized experiences to and for each customer.
The technologies driving Hyper-Personalization 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-personalization include:
- Real-Time Data: For every digital action we take, a company can “see” what we’re doing by gathering and analyzing 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 data points surrounding customer interactions, you can personalize 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 personalization and privacy
Customers enjoy personalized 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 personalizing experiences without compromising trust.
For companies wishing to provide customers with exactly what they’re looking for—when and how they’re looking for it— privacy and personalization are a series of trade-offs that need to be carefully considered. And no, “transparently” communicating your policies in terms-of-service docs (that are never, ever read by users) doesn’t count.
Doing the right thing—as defined by your customers—is all that matters.
Be open and honest, and leverage your data to ensure that you’re appropriately balancing the trade-offs that hyper-personalization and privacy demand…from the customer’s perspective.
Hyper-Personalization in the years ahead
The personalization capabilities brought on by the digital age have revolutionized 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 personalization was a game changer a decade ago, hyper-personalization is a game changer today with tools like real-time journey orchestration and optimization driving 1-to-1 personalization at scale.
Tomorrow? Who knows. But just as it’s a certainty that hyper-personalization 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 personalized and relevant experiences that prove it.