Brands give themselves much higher marks than consumers do on their personalization efforts. Why are brands missing the mark? Too many “personalization” attempts are motivated and measured by profit alone, rather than delivering value that actually matters to customers.

Andrew Park, vice president of customer experience strategy, InMoment

Brands are pouring money into personalization. And for good reason — according to data from Accenture, retailers and CPG brands may unlock as much as $2.95 trillion by mastering a personalized digital experience for consumers.

If brands can create truly individualized, personal experiences for each customer, then they stand to reap the rewards that follow. However, most brands have yet to harness the full potential of personalization to actually improve the customer experience.
InMoment’s latest CX Trends report reveals that customers aren’t too impressed with brand personalization efforts. In fact, when asked if personalization made customers feel “cared for,” only 21 percent of customers said “yes.”

You won’t get points for simply listing their name in the header of an email or wishing them happy birthday (while trying to sell them something).

Brands overestimated their own success, with 42 percent—double that of customers—predicting customers felt cared for with their personalization strategies. With nearly eight out of 10 customers unable to speak to the value of personalization, it’s clear there’s a problem.

Even more interesting is that fact that less than half of brands say their efforts are creating positive feelings for customers. So why are they missing the mark? Too many “personalization” attempts are motivated and measured by profit alone, rather than delivering value that actually matters to customers.

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The basics won’t cut it anymore

Think about the most “personalized” interaction you recently had with a brand. Did a customer service representative know your name and preferences when you called with a question or problem? Did you visit a website and see a curated list of products you love, along with peer reviews and recommendations? Or did you just get a search-and-replace email, or a slew of retargeted ads based on something you’d already purchased?

Unfortunately, those last two scenarios are most likely. And customers aren’t easily impressed with those tactics. You won’t get points for simply listing their name in the header of an email or wishing them happy birthday (while trying to sell them something). And while remarketing ads and product promotions can deliver value to customers, they’re only the first step in creating more genuine and meaningful personalized customer experiences.

Brands and customers have different definitions of personalization

There’s a disconnect between what brands think customers want when it comes to more personalized experiences and what customers actually want. For example, more customers (48 percent) would rather brands know their buying habits (how much they buy, when they buy it and where) than brands think. Only 39 percent of brands assume this expectation.

Additionally, 45 percent of customers expect brands to know their interaction history (calls, chats, email history, social media engagement, etc.), while only 36 percent of brands said the same.

That’s not all. When asked which factors brands should prioritize to improve the customer experience, 69 percent of customers ranked “knowing me” as being the least important.

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That’s not an indictment of the theory of personalization, but rather the execution. At least as it stands today. It shows a failure of brands in using what they know about customers to offer value that customers actual, well, value.

On the positive side, there are some brands really getting it right.

Get personal with your customers

Sephora uses customer information to inform more than just advertising. Beyond personalized product recommendations driven by its Beauty Insider program, the beauty brand leverages customer data to seamlessly blend in-store and online experience.

Its “store companion” geofencing feature gives customers access to product recommendations and reviews, their past purchases, new exclusive offers, store events that might appeal to them and inventory availability. If a customer has a gift card with unspent dollars, they’ll receive an alert the second they enter a Sephora location. Another feature of Sephora’s app allows users to snap photos of their own face to test new makeup looks and learn how to use difficult styling techniques (like contouring).

The brand shows a commitment to using customer data to create more engaging and convenient experiences, not just getting inventory off the shelves. And they’ve got an army of loyal shoppers to show for it.

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The takeaway here: personalize with purpose, not just for profit.

When you ask for customer information, you’re setting an expectation that you’ll use that data to make their experiences better. If you can’t follow through on that promise, customers won’t offer up their data at all — and they’ll move on to brands that use it to meet their needs. Now more than ever, it’s critical to gather the right feedback and data from your shoppers and use it to inform unique and unforgettable experiences.

InMoment provides customer experience management technology.

 

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