Back in the early noughties, I can remember when a well-known car manufacturer launched a digital car configurator. It was brilliant; you could view interior and exterior 360 degree spins, and create the exact specification you wanted.
I remember configuring a sleek-looking 1.8 litre, three-door hatchback, in pearlescent gun-metal grey. I opted for full black leather seats, 19 inch Y-spoke alloys, a CD player with surround sound, front seat armrests and, of course, a cup holder.
You can imagine my dismay when I turned up at the dealership and was offered a test drive in a 1.6 five-door, with cloth seats and a tape deck. By spending time configuring the car that I wanted to buy, I expected to, at least, be able to test drive the same model! System capability, technology (or, more explicitly, lack of), and stock availability all played a part in my disappointing car buying experience.
Things haven't moved on that much
This is a simple example of early generation personalisation. Unfortunately, some of the key pitfalls are still an issue today.
Whilst access to explicit personalisation details is becoming easier to achieve with today’s technology, combined with a shift in user behaviour towards actively selecting self-service functionality, the potential of a seamless, personalised and relevant experience is being jeopardised by disjointed and ineffective customer service.
For example, continuing with my petrol-head theme, when I come to buy my second car, why am I asked the exact same questions as when I bought my first car with you, had my car serviced with you last month, and when I registered my vehicle on your website? Surely you must have all this information sat in a system somewhere within your organisation, so why aren’t you using it effectively?
This is not just an issue in automotive, but transcends all sectors. There are, of course, some organisations who are delivering exceptional, relevant experiences, but the overwhelming majority aren’t (with banks being the worst culprits, in my opinion…).
Common reasons to personalise
Here are some common reasons why organisations look to invest in personalisation, some of which I’m sure you’ve heard directly from your leadership team:
- “We want to understand the customer and deliver contextually relevant, in-moment experiences, to the right device, at the right time.”
- “We need to enable customers to self-serve to reduce our call centre costs.”
- “We need to 'improve' our multi-channel campaigns and be more social.”
- “We must ensure the call centre team up-sells at every opportunity.”
- “We want to increase the average spend per customer by x%.”
- "Our competition has a ‘my account’ - what is our answer for this?”
And if you manage an international digital estate, you may also hear:
- “We operate in multiple markets and need to talk to our customers in their language. Right now, we’re missing out to local competitors!”
10 key questions to ask
When confronted with all the above requests, there are ten fundamental questions you must ask ahead of embarking on personalisation. After all, there’s no point investing in it if it’s doomed to fail.
1. Firstly, do you really know who your customers are, what they want and what they need from you?
2. Do you have a platform (such as a CRM system) in place, which tracks a progressive understanding of each individual user?
3. Do you have a marketing presence in every market in which you operate?
4. Who is going to translate and localise content for your local customers?
5. Let's say you have both a presence and translation capability, who is going to write all the content for the different customer types you have identified?
6. You have so much historic data stored for existing customers, but is this ‘digital gold’ locked away deep within legacy systems?
7. Self-service is a great opportunity to reduce costs, but are your systems able to offer that functionality to a digital channel?
8. Whilst joined-up channel delivery is a great approach, do you know where your customers are engaging with you?
9. Do you have a single view of your customer so that as they self-serve a complaint, the call centre (and other channels e.g. social media team), are aware?
10. How will you report the success of personalisation, and who will be responsible for monitoring progress?
If you don't have an answer for each of the above questions, stop right now.
We can help you
The reality is that personalisation is a difficult topic. Most organisations understand the positive business impact it can make but, in general, do not have the right combination of C-level backing, staff capabilities, content strategy and technology to make it a reality.
At Building Blocks, our Digital Foundations Programme helps clients plan for personalisation in line with their ambition, business goals, capacity of the internal team, and capability of platforms.
This programme takes ten days to complete, and will provide you with a ‘quick-start to personalisation’ roadmap, detailing the steps you need to take to make personalisation a business improvement reality.