Whilst personalisation helps a company have a sense of attachment to others, without careful consideration, it doesn’t necessarily mean more business.
A well thought personalised website will improve the experience for a visitor. This in turn will help customers make a more informed decision quickly and efficiently, whilst increasing their affiliation with the brand – because it is a positive experience.
However, personalisation does not always improve customer experience and might not always be needed.
Having the right intentions from the outset will help ensure customers’ time with you is enjoyable, rather than people feeling coerced into actions that help a company reach its targets.
A study by Price Waterhouse Coopers highlights that ‘convenience’ and ‘efficiency’ rank highest for people when it comes to customer experience, and they are willing to pay more for it. Personalisation is valuable but is not a prerequisite and will not always make its mark on the bottom line.
Because You Can Does Not Mean You Should
For many companies, personalisation is regarded as something that customers see as desirable, but that can lead to making ill-formed digital decisions. A 2018 study from customer experience intelligence firm InMoment, highlighted that 75% of consumers studied found most forms of personalisation somewhat ‘creepy’, with 40 percent of brands admitting to being creepy.
Instead of focusing on improving the customer experience, personalisation is often being implemented first and foremost to improve conversions, to ‘encourage’ more items into the basket, and/or to keep users on a website longer and for them to see more ads.
Personalisation has become another business tool with short-term goals and demands of ROI.
It is healthier to help a customer to achieve what they originally set out to do, rather than pretend to know them personally. I regularly listen to Audible books and I have noticed that the recommendations I am now presented with look (and sound) the same. Perhaps your recommendations from Netflix or Spotify are starting to look very formulaic? Is this starting to provide a negative experience?
In an article in The Guardian from 2020, John Naughton from the University of Cambridge says that “the tech companies extol these services as unqualified public goods. What could possibly be wrong with a technology that learns what its users want and provides it? And at no charge? Quite a lot, as it happens.” Without realising, users are being taken on a journey curated by organisations that are trying to make more money.
Many companies are either over-using the data via ‘sophisticated’ tools to manipulate users, or under-using the data resulting in lazy personalisation, which is a wasted investment.
Ultimately, when the focus is all on the data and the measurable gain, the customer experience takes a back seat. In time, the person trying to use the website is out of sight completely, even though in every meeting someone will still mention, “we’re customer first”.
Personalisation Is Not A Fix
To make a positive impact, it is important to know who you serve and what they are looking to achieve. Also, what does a great experience look like for them? This is not setting out to know people’s ins and outs, but to get the right information you need to lean into your customers and ask the right questions.
In 2016 Experian created a personalisation spectrum that lists six stages ranging from 1. Static to 6. Predictive Optimised. The article concludes wisely with, “Remember, personalisation is about improving the customer first so unless you have the interests of the customer front of mind you risk undermining the whole exercise.”
When building user profiles or personas there is a process to understand the core goals users have when engaging with a product or service. What becomes clear, even for organisations that have a myriad of customer types, is that customers’ general requirements can be captured in just four or five user profiles. Although the level of detail can vary, we do not need to overthink the data.
Personalisation is not a fix. If a website is designed to help users achieve their goals, then personalisation can be utilised to improve their experience. This will, in turn, improve customer retention, spend, and conversion rates.
Be Interested In The Why
In our lives, we perhaps don’t need the brands we subscribe to treat us as an individual. For the most part, we just need it to help us with what we want it to do and have a gratifying time doing it.
To find the right balance be interested in why people do what they do. Don’t just rely on the data and fall into the trap of assuming knowledge is user patterns.
Design and implement personalisation to improve your customers’ experience from their perspective.
You can still build revenue, as well as trust and loyalty, by better understanding the people who interact and spend time with your website. The journeys created can benefit everyone.