Customization is like catnip to consumers—dangle it in their faces and watch them go nuts for it, desiring more and more over time. Look no further than the popularity of apps like Bitmoji, which allows people to create cartoon avatars of themselves for use in texts and on social media, and it’s evident that consumers crave experiences that are tailor-made for them and able to be customized to their preferences at a moment’s notice. A recent survey by Epsilon found that a whopping 90% of consumers see the appeal of personalization, with 80% stating they were more likely to do business with a company that offers a personalized customer experience.
Here’s the rub when it comes to consumers’ overwhelming desire for personalization: in order to have their cake and eat it too, it requires them to share some of their data with these companies. Data is the fuel that powers truly personalized customer experiences. For the Spotifys and Amazons of the world to offer those perfectly curated playlists or suggest products that fit one’s style to a T, it requires leveraging personal consumer data to uncover preferences, patterns and behaviors in order to predict what they desire and, ultimately, give it to them without them having to ask.
In today’s crowded marketplace, companies must prioritize customer experience in order to remain competitive and sticky. By giving their customers a more personalized, customizable experience, they are satisfying their innate desires while providing them value such as better customer service, convenience and cost savings. However, that job doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of a brand. Customers need to provide them with data points about themselves to give companies something to build a personalized experience around. And in today’s current climate of data breeches, that is understandably difficult for some consumers to reconcile.
Data misuse and privacy are top-of-mind concerns for many lately, but consumers don’t have to sacrifice all of their personal information as the price for a great, personalized customer experience. It falls squarely on a brand to use the data consumers share with them responsibly and wisely. Companies should be sure to provide transparency around their use of this data and communicate to their customers what choices they have when it comes to their information being shared and used. These efforts can be bolstered with a design thinking approach that empowers consumers with visibility into data usage and makes the process of signing off on how companies use their data simple and straightforward.
Creating this sense of trust and security is undoubtedly a process, but it goes a long way toward cementing brand loyalty among customers. Salesforce found that 70% of consumers say a company that understands their individual needs impacts their loyalty. In turn, customers can feel confident knowing that their data will be used reasonably and responsibly for their overall benefit. And these benefits are nothing to scoff at. Be it increased customization, predictive services, discounts/special offers, streamlined chat/referral tools or an overall engaging brand experience, it’s no wonder personalization is a huge consumer craze.
To bask in such stellar customer experiences, consumers need to come to terms with the philosophy that if they give up a little bit of their data, they can receive quite a lot in return. Adobe found that 77% of marketers understand the importance of real-time personalization, but that 2/3 of them struggle to give consumers the personalized content they desire in real-time without data inputs from them. When it comes to personalization, it’s a two-way street. Remembering that businesses have much more to lose from mishandling the small nuggets of data a consumer offers up for a top-notch, personalized customer experience and that consumers have much more to gain should assuage lingering concerns and grant them greater peace of mind.
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