Hyper-personalization – This Time, It’s Personal
I recently bought a smoker box for my BBQ from the local hardware store. I go in there all the time, often with my two children. The store owner Jeff recognized me, and asked “are you starting to smoke on a gas BBQ?”.
“Yes I’m trying it out – do they produce enough smoke?”
“Yes, they produce some and are ok. I started with one of those a few years back. I also tried a charcoal smoker – but I found it was too much work – and I’d rather be spending that time playing with my kids.”
“Yeah – that’s exactly it – I’d like a low maintenance approach.”
“Yup I hear you – starting with the smoking box is a good way to start – see if you like the flavour. After the charcoal smoker debacle, I moved up to a pellet smoker – it monitors the temperature and feeds wood chip pellets to the smoker automatically. I can set it and forget it. One time I had it going all afternoon for some ribs and didn’t have to do a thing with it.”
Wow. Jeff couldn’t have been more on-message if he lived with me for a month. That’s hyper-personalization. He’s seen me with my kids, he has some idea of the things I’ve bought before, and he could relate – and it turned into a heck of a sales pitch. Whether I buy a smoker or not, I felt like he was offering advice, not just selling a product.
But that is hyper-personalization on a micro scale. Jeff gets the advantage of seeing me in person lots of times, and dealing with a small client base. How can you mimic this on a macro-scale for an organization, but still come across as genuine and personalized (vs. most offers, which are impersonal and formulaic)?
An organization needs three things – experience, context, and reasoning – in other words, the organization needs ‘a brain’ to think in the same manner a human being would.
First, the experience. Organizations have lots of experience in interacting with their customers. Transactions. Orders. Call centre calls. Web browsing. Social media comments. There’s loads of data out there. The challenge is bringing it into one place so that it can be managed collectively. Fortunately, new big data technologies can help.
Second, the context. The problem isn’t just bringing it all together, it is linking it all back to one customer. The customer can almost be ‘anonymous’ in some of those interactions. So the organization needs the ability to synthesize all of that data into a realistic likeness of the customer.
Third, reasoning. The organization needs to take the context of the customer – their likeness, their journey, and reason about what will happen next. Just as Jeff reasoned that I was a rookie in the world of BBQ smoking but that the context of me as a father meant that time was important, organizations need the same type of intelligence on each of their customers.
Many organizations are trying to personalize customer service with varying degrees of success. Hyper-personalization is closer to reality than they may realize. The technology exists to consolidate data, understand context, and reason about the next best action. The best way to get started is to look into existing personalization efforts in marketing and customer care to see where there are gaps, and then explore whether those gaps can be met by new technology such as Customer Intelligence Management.