When CX Crosses Paths with Personalization: 3 Imperatives for 2020


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Source: Sophelle

Today’s hot trend with customer-facing solutions are the technologies that allow for personalization, even to the point of eclipsing the concept of customer experience (CX). But it’s not a matter of focusing on one versus the other. Personalization is a means to an end of better CX.

That makes the interplay between personalization and CX a vital concern in 2020. Specifically, how do you govern personalization, so you are presenting content in a way that maximizes CX?

There are plenty of technologies that have a personalization benefit to them. Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence (AI), for instance, can leverage knowledge of purchase history or location to suggest purchases. Customers are increasingly using smart speakers to interact with brands, with devices using information gleaned from past device use to fine-tune present interactions. Similarly, other technologies like machine learning is built into various apps to make personalized suggestions at many levels — music choices, commuting routes or shopping options.

The tricky part is that a singular focus on any one personalization technology won’t necessarily guarantee your organization tailors what is presented to the customer in the best possible way. That’s because in many enterprises, there are legacy systems, customer data repositories and procedures that sit outside of the newest, shiniest piece of personalization tech. This can lead to personalization that customers don’t want, or which doesn’t factor in the full customer journey that might stretch back decades.

As a result, it’s imperative that an organization can blend newer personalization tech with customer data and policies that might exist in other systems used to service traditional channels.

As 2020 approaches, it is time to think about the intersection of personalization and CX technologies, and how to manage it. As food for thought, consider these three imperatives:

Personalization technology is growing, but needs governance. There is little doubt that enterprises will continue to invest in personalization capabilities. In a recent survey of connected consumers and business buyers, 75% of respondents said they expect companies to use new technologies to drive better CX. The need to employ new tech like chatbots and voice assistant devices is overwhelming. Customers want personalization, but companies must manage the various technologies correctly, while following the various privacy regulations, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which will kick-in in January 2020. In addition, we must make personalization consistent with the content and processes customers prefer, regardless of the touchpoints.

Success with personalization hinges on purpose-fit content and value delivery. The popularity of multiple channels and touchpoints is both a huge CX opportunity, and a potential source of customer disenchantment. Each touchpoint has unique strengths. Chatbots are great at quickly answering basic questions and routing customers to the likeliest options. Some customers, however, are still going to want to talk to a customer service representative, especially with service or product support issues, or detailed billing questions. Ideally, these touchpoints are linked and share common data, so when a customer is escalated to a live person, that representative knows the area of inquiry and has access to that customer’s history across all dimensions, whether it’s sales/billing, service, warranty or claims. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The connected consumer survey also found that 78% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments, but 59% say it generally feels like they are communicating with separate departments rather than one company. There is a remedy to this problem. It requires thinking from a customer’s perspective, and is helped by cloud-based capabilities for knowledge management and workflow

AI-based insights will proliferate, but should blend with the full customer journey. It’s rare that all customer data will sit in one system. There may be call center systems, after sales services systems, web shopping cart history, that all hold different pieces of customer data and preferences. To properly layer AI-based tools over such a heterogenous environment, you need the right platform for tapping into existing knowledge and customer data sets. A cloud-based knowledge system that offers a system agnostic perspective and proven APIs can interconnect with multiple sources of customer data and enrich AI-based tools with consistent information and supporting workflows.

Arrive at a single source of truth in a flexible manner. To be truly interconnected, it’s imperative that your knowledge system be outside of your applications, rather than shackled to one app. A single source of truth can be achieved, but it needs to be interconnected, rather than monolithic.

Don’t get me wrong. AI-based personalization technologies are great. These tools are on the rise as they provide both customer value and internal efficiencies. But it makes sense to take a step back from any one piece of personalization tech and think about how to blend AI-based tools with all pertinent sources of customer data and the knowledge systems that support them.

We need to interconnect personalization tools with the overall customer journey, which likely involves multiple systems. Some of these systems are cloud-based, while others may sit inside a corporate data center. To the customer, it should be a cohesive, happy experience.

Bottomline: it comes back to approaching CX from the customer perspective, which is why the experience provided by personalization technology needs to blend with your existing systems. A brand needs to provide consistent, real time experience to grow the company and maintain its competitive edge.

Steve Pappas
Steve Pappas, a seasoned entrepreneur, investor and mentor, has successfully built and sold several companies. He has spent many years cultivating his approach to CX and each company has held the mantra of “the customer is at the center of the universe”. When he is not driving CX strategy or launching companies, Steve plays the guitar and mentors business heads of small and medium businesses (SMBs).


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