Pseudo-Customization Is Annoying; True Personalization is Valued


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The Challenge: A recent article in The New York Times highlighted the fact that customers find poor etailer customization “creepy”. It appears that businesses are still not providing customers with true personalization.


Today’s sophisticated customers expect personalization across all points of contact. And, they expect these communications to be relevant and based on their stated preferences. A common sentiment expressed during recent Voice of Customer (VoC) research we conducted sums it up this way, “I expect more than just ‘we’ve looked at everything you’ve bought over the last X years and this is what we think you’ll like’. With today’s technology, I expect much more than that!”
Speaking with The New York Times, Patagonia’s vice president of global e-commerce described the consequences of getting personalization wrong: “We saw customer frustration at being targeted outweigh any benefit. If you got it wrong once, it outweighed getting it right 10 times.”
Many marketers are liable to draw the wrong conclusion, and do away with customization altogether. But abandoning multichannel customization is not an option.
Customers today view true personalization as a requirement for their preferred shopping venues, rather than as simply a perk. They’re sophisticated enough to expect marketers to provide true preference-driven personalization, not just simplistic purchase based pseudo-customization.
And, per results of our Voice of Customer research efforts, today’s consumers will opt-in to share increasingly detailed personal preference information in exchange for marketer’s promise to deliver relevant information and offers.
This is not to say that traditional targeting methods are no longer relevant. Demographic and transactional data remain useful data points. But, in order to achieve necessary levels of accuracy, they must be enhanced by opt-in preferences provided by consumers.
In the Times article cited above, Mahender Nathan, Godiva’s vice president for e-commerce and digital marketing, made the point well, “In conversation, if you think it’s odd that you know something about someone that they didn’t share with you, don’t use it.”
The inverse holds as well: when someone “opts” to share something with you, they expect you to remember it in conversation?just as customers expect marketers to add value using the preferences they’ve shared.
» Replace Pseudo-Customization with Preference-Driven Personalization

You can only personalize a customer experience based on customer preferences if customers opt-in to share their preferences. To make sure they do so, offer a compelling value proposition.

» Supplement Transactional Data with Self-profiled Preferences

Transactional data is an extremely valuable indicator of historical customer preferences, but it’s not enough. Use it, but only in tandem with self-profiled preferences.

» Understand the Reciprocity of Value Equation

Consumers will opt-in and share increasingly detailed personal preference information in exchange for marketer’s promise to deliver personalized and relevant offers, and communications across the multichannel mix.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman (@ernanroman) is president of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing. He was inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to the results his VoC research-based CX strategies achieve for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, QVC, Gilt and HP. ERDM conducts deep qualitative research to help companies understand how customers articulate their feelings and expectations for high value CX and personalization. Named one of the Top 40 Digital Luminaries and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.


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