From ASOS to Nike and Netflix, many of the world's biggest brands are targeting hyper-personalisation of the customer experience to connect in new ways
Effective use of big data can help brands and businesses strengthen their relationships with customers. Nitin Rakesh, co-author of Transformation in Times of Crisis and CEO of IT services company Mphasis, explains how hyper-personalisation of customer experience can deliver big rewards.
We’re living in extraordinary times. Covid-19 was a catalyst for accelerated innovation in the fields of science and technology, and it’s redefined the way brands interact with customers. In Europe, the pandemic has hastened the adoption of digitalisation for customer engagement by three years.
At a time of volatility, anxiety and a lot of conflicting information, consumer expectations are shifting even more in favour of relevant, real-time and multi-channel communication.
Customers hold all the power to impact a business’ performance and growth trajectory, and what they want most is high levels of personalisation. The economic reverberations of the pandemic also mean that consumers are much more cautious in terms of where they direct their budgets, so the way brands navigate this new landscape is critical.
Engagement must be meaningful and address customers’ unique needs, otherwise businesses risk coming across as out of touch and uncaring. A KPMG report found that, of the 27 markets analysed, 19 cited personalisation as the strongest pillar to inspire customer loyalty.
So to build relationships that last, businesses need to approach everything from a customer-centric angle and have the ability to deliver personalisation at scale. They can get there by accelerating their adoption of cognitive technologies and data science to offer richer, more personalised experiences.
It pays to personalise – are you adding value to your customers’ lives?
It’s hard to ignore the benefits of taking a customer-first approach. In retail, for instance, personalisation at scale can increase customer satisfaction by 20% and lead to growth in sales conversion of up to 15%.
In increasingly crowded markets, with many similar products and services, it’s the experience factor that allows a brand to differentiate itself and add real value to customers’ lives. Unprecedented access to big data and digital technologies makes it possible.
There have been some stand-out examples of brands using advancements in virtual and augmented reality, for instance, to enhance the user experience during lockdowns.
ASOS is the first retailer in Europe to roll out an augmented reality tool with See My Fit, which allows customers to “try on” clothing on models via digital mapping tools aligned with their specific measurements. In this way, ASOS provides a richer, more involved and personal experience that makes people feel directly connected with the product.
Others have empowered customers to design their ideal product themselves, such as Nike’s 3D shoe customisation platform.
This approach is a great balance between giving shoppers the chance to buy something that’s custom-made to their preferences, while helping Nike to manage its economies of scale. In the current climate, optimising cost and operational efficiencies in this way is a shrewd move for any organisation.
An integrated strategy to boost customer satisfaction
An effective customer journey starts with a deeper understanding of their needs. Netflix does this well, analysing individual viewing habits not only to recommend other shows but to create original content based on those insights.
This is where one-to-one personalisation reaches the next level and becomes co-creation with the customer. For Netflix to achieve this, it has to identify specific content characteristics of a show and compare it with others using those touch points.
The business pay-offs are transformational, giving Netflix insight into new products that are guaranteed to do well, plus access to new markets and audience micro-segments that may have been hard to reach previously.
There is much to learn from the way in which digitally-native players such as Netflix approach customer engagement. They consider the full context in which transactions or decisions happen, by being able to integrate various data points seamlessly.
So if someone uses a credit card to make a purchase, while a traditional provider would focus on undertaking that one transaction, the digital provider would instantly recognise the transaction, cross-reference it and offer a discount at a nearby store or food outlet that it knows the customer would enjoy.
That’s where mass-personalisation becomes hyper-personalisation in real time – directly relevant and applicable to that person at that moment – and it drives customer satisfaction and retention.
To move to hyper-personalisation at scale, companies need to implement a customer-centric digital transformation strategy that has data and the cognitive layer at its core. It’s vital to gain a “single view” of the customer by integrating and aggregating data in a centralised hub.
Data siloes and lack of “data dialect” between departments hamper personalisation and convenience for the user and so an integrated data strategy is a must. Once all relevant customer information is pooled into a data lake, companies can apply artificial intelligence, machine and deep learning for in-depth analysis.
Here, they can reach those valuable contextual insights and predict how to meet the requirements that the individual user may not even be aware of yet.
At times of crisis, customers need to feel that their needs are being put first and that businesses understand them, otherwise they can move onto another, more disruptive provider at the click of a button.
Personalisation is not a luxury. Prioritising the customer experience is non-negotiable for strengthening brand reputation during a crisis and staying relevant beyond it.