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Best practices for personalizing the customer experience

Posted September 19, 2019
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With the rise of digital media, Big Data and AI-powered analytics, the era of bombarding consumers with generic promotional messaging is quickly coming to an end.

Instead, customers are finding themselves with personalized recommendations based on their browsing history, marketing messages customized to their individual interests and customer service interactions that take their purchasing history and previous queries into account. In fact, today’s consumers are becoming so accustomed to customized content that they’re more likely to be surprised by a lack of personalization.

A recent TELUS International and Harris Poll survey on personalization revealed that four in five Americans (80%) say the companies and brands they interact with now use some form of personalization based on customer information.

Most companies are working diligently to be transparent about how and where they use customer information, but for this value exchange to pan out, organizations must gain a deeper understanding of the personalization opportunity. Knowing exactly how customers want their personal preferences to be applied allows you to craft a more relevant and enjoyable customer experience.

Survey results: Why personalization appeals to consumers

According to our survey data, more than two in five Americans (42%) say that if a company doesn’t provide them with a personalized experience, they’re likely to switch brands. What’s more, even if a product or service disappoints, 72% of American consumers say they’ll give the company a second chance if it provides a hyper-personal customer experience.

Researchers, including those behind a seminal study on consumer customization and control, have found that people generally enjoy media better inside of a personalized experience than a standard-issue one. That’s because “consumer-centric” — and not “publisher-centric” — experiences give consumers the perception of greater control. That translates into a greater propensity to interact with businesses.

Our own research shows that more than 50% of Americans choose to personalize their brand experience by completing such actions as signing up for email or text notifications and filling out customer surveys. Meanwhile, two in five consumers (40%) proactively update their personal information in an online profile. And about 30% go the extra mile by speaking with customer service agents to ensure their information is as accurate as possible.

The way consumers approach personalization can, however, vary based on demographics. Millennials, for example, are 32% more likely than Gen Xers (19%) or Baby Boomers (10%) to personalize their brand experience by engaging with a company on social media.

Millennials and their younger counterparts, Gen Z, are also more likely than older customers to prefer when companies collect information without them having to do anything; 42% of Gen Z and 32% of Millennials noted this preference compared to Gen X (23%) and Boomers (22%).

The path to better personalization

Employing personalization to connect with consumers isn’t just about determining who values it the most, it’s also about developing the best delivery strategy. When creating a personalized brand experience, it’s important that your customers are aware of, and comfortable with, your approach. This way they’ll always know what to expect and how personalization can reward them as customers.

There are a number of best practices companies can adopt to get the most out of the personalization opportunity:

  1. Offers. Two thirds of consumers polled (63%) reported they’d be willing to share their information by filling out surveys or updating their profile in exchange for an offer. It behooves organizations, therefore, to provide an incentive to their customers, like a coupon or other exclusive deal.
  2. Short and sweet. Almost half of the consumers polled said they’d be willing to take action to personalize their experience as long as it took no longer than five minutes. Companies should try to simplify their forms and streamline data collection methods, which in turn can result in receiving more information with which to personalize customer interactions.
  3. Transparency. When it comes to how companies acquire consumers’ personal information, the majority of consumers — more than 60% — say they’d rather provide it directly, while just 26% are comfortable with brands collecting it without their direct involvement. Again, this underscores the importance of transparency when harvesting and applying personal data to the customer experience.

It’s more and more common for consumers to opt for a personalized brand experience if they have the choice, whether they’re making an online purchase or interacting with a customer service agent over the phone. Brands that extend individualized content to consumers will succeed at cultivate deeper, stronger relationships with their customer base.

Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of TELUS International between May 30th-June 3, 2019 among 2,010 adults ages 18+, among whom 133 are Gen Z (ages 18-21), 647 are Millennials (ages 22-38), 553 are Gen X (ages 39-54), and 602 are Baby Boomers (ages 55-73). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact [email protected].

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