Meet my two best friends ‘Personalisation’ & ‘Customer Experience’
Much is written about personalisation and customer experience – the two are natural bedfellows -and if we believe much of what we read, we would be forgiven for thinking that both are highly sophisticated and mature. That both are the product of much development and investment, consequently delivering that most elusive of factors – customer ‘stickability’ or as some would have it – loyalty.
In truth, whilst there’s no doubting that retailers increasingly understand that they must make a significant commitment to both, the reality is very different. When Liam Fox was referring to British business as being ‘fat and lazy’ he could so easily have been referring to personalisation and customer experience. Why? Current attempts at personalisation are both one dimensional and reactive, at best relying on calendar entries and smart mirrors to create an illusion of personalised engagement.
As an example, I recently received (through my letterbox no less) a card from a well known national florist, reminding me that it was my mother’s birthday soon and suggesting which flower arrangement I may wish to send. I thanked them for their interest, informing them that my mother had passed away 9 months previously.
Now, I hear you ask; how on earth are they expected to know that my mother had passed away? My response – don’t be lazy, true personalisation is knowing your customer and engaging in a relevant, contextual manner. Not simply relying on calendar prompts and firing off unsolicited mailshots. Show me that you can engage in a relevant manner and I will happily provide the information necessary to give you the context.
Simple tracking of social media can provide deep insights into many different aspects of our lives – how we are feeling, if we are on holiday, our interests, our priorities even what mood we are in. And what’s more, as consumers, many of us are willing to pay for what in reality we should expect as the new normal. According to Deloitte in a report published in 2015 titled “The Rise of Mass Personalisation”, 1 in 5 consumers who expressed an interest in personalised products or services are willing to pay a 20% premium.
So what does all this mean? The implications for retailers who do not embrace the technology required to deliver a personalised experience for their customers are clear and serious. Never before have we, as consumers, been so demanding, so promiscuous – willing to drop a brand and move to the competition without hesitation. And what’s more, our expectations keep on growing exponentially. Only those retailers who understand this will survive, the outlook for the remainder is bleak.
Andrew Busby is Founder of The Retail Advisory Board