Data-driven personalisation has gone from something consumers were distrustful of, to a relationship-defining expectation in a matter of years. How can you harness customer data to deliver personalised, valuable experiences that drive customer loyalty?

It’s fair to say that Netflix has done a lot of the heavy lifting in changing consumer sentiment around personalisation by showing customers how data-driven personalisation can make their lives easier. 

Avid streamers the world over are more than happy to agree to Netflix monitoring their viewing behaviours in exchange for highly relevant recommendations that save the customer time scrolling through hundreds of titles. 
More than simply changing customer sentiment toward personalisation, the Netflix factor has seen customers come to expect data-driven personalisation to augment their buying or servicing experiences. 

Provided the brand can offer value in exchange for personal data and insight, the consumer is happy to oblige. Value to these consumers is anything that saves them time, effort or money. Failure to deliver on the value exchange will often result in the customer retreating to a competitor who can deliver on that value. 

 

An Acquia study found that 90% of customers agreed that they would be more loyal to a brand that showed they really understood them and what they were looking for.
 


The flow-on effect these consumer expectations have is far reaching. 10 years ago, as consumers we would compare apples to apples. Shopping experiences would be compared with like-businesses and other shops; maybe shops that sold different items, but rarely would a consumer compare their apple with an orange from another vertical. 

Today, consumers are comparing apples with just about any other item that delivers a better experience. We’re all looking for the Uber experience – a quick, simple and convenient way to get from A to B without friction and unnecessary steps. Uber delivers on their commitment and the result has most consumers comparing that experience with other experiences they have with brands. Initially larger brands, but increasingly smaller brands and interactions.

 

Personalisation & Data

As we touched on earlier, the agreement a consumer enters into with a brand to exchange data for convenience needs to deliver them with a positive return on investment (ROI). With the development of Europe’s GDPR, countries like Australia are swiftly moving to develop their own data security frameworks to ensure consumers are in control of the what and how of their personal data. The result of customers having more influence over the collection of their data means it is easier than ever before for customers to refuse to share their data, and they will do so where there is no value exchange.

In a recent report, 60% of respondents said that “Brands do not do a good job using my personal preferences to predict my needs.”

Brands will need to review their value proposition to their customer in exchange for access to their data. 

How will the data you collect be utilised to add value to the customers life? Highly relevant product recommendations? Timely incentives on their favourite services? A quicker checkout experience? 

Deliver on this value and the rewards to your brand are plentiful – improved customer loyalty and retention, larger basket size and stronger brand sentiment and peer-to-peer recommendations, to name just a few.
 

Bringing It All Together

First of all, it is important to draw together all of the data collection points and understand how much of the picture you are getting about your customers. Can you identify an individual and build out a picture of them and their preferences? If not, you’ll need to plug some gaps in the data you collect and improve your understanding of your customer through research. Gathering customer data should be seen as an ever-constant initiative, not just a set and forget. Customer preferences can change daily, you don’t want to be operating on intelligence you gained 6 months ago. 

Once you have a solid array of refreshing data points being collected you will need to bring them all together into the one system that offers you a single source of truth, single view of the customer. This can be done through systems integrations and off-the-shelf products.

Continue to evolve your understanding of your customer – what do individual segments expect from your brand at any point in their journey? What do you need to be delivering upon throughout those unique journeys? What happens when a customer migrates from one segment to another and how will you respond? Ongoing customer research and analysis of existing customer actions through data will help you better understand what your customers need and when.

Develop strategies and tactics that capitalise on what you know of your customer. Think about product or service recommendations as a customer moves throughout the customer journey, how they like to be communicated to and what they value. Tailor your products and communications to them to build a valuable relationship.

Finally, never stand still. Always monitor across multiple data points and refining how you deliver on services. Review your website analytics to see customer behaviours and refine your UX through A/B testing and Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). Monitor customer sentiment and adjust your approach. Agility will be core to responding quickly to changing behaviours and sentiments.

There are a lot of elements to get right and bring together to form a sophisticated brand experience, but the rewards to your business will be well worth the effort – 63% of survey respondents said “I often abandon a brand for another when the online experience is poor”.

Look to engage with partners who are experienced in delivering in this space and work with them to develop and deliver a cohesive and holistic customer view and the tools to deliver on that customer image. Remember that a customer can feel a sense of satisfaction with you or be creeped out, depending on how much you know about them and what you do with that information. Always try to be the barista at the café who knows your name and order, rather than the secret admirer sending creepy texts as they peer through your window.

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