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Consider The Singularity Of The Customer: The Role Of Individualization

Customer Interaction Management is one of the first areas involved in the development of analytics-driven Big Data projects within marketing departments. These are mainly:

  • Better understand customers from the data.
  • Anticipate behaviors and risks.
  • Optimize marketing and product design.
  • Customize the customer experience to improve customer service and loyalty.
  • Work in real time.

Big data and algorithms continue to grow, and marketing departments are increasingly seeing the benefits of these technologies, but also the changes they must make. The path of individualization is fraught with difficulties but it is a carrier of value for the company. The difficulties are very much dependent on the change management of the marketing professionals, which results in an experience offered to the client that is out of step with the tremendous possibilities offered by the technology.

Let’s go back to the client and his attention span. Do we have to worry about the limit of the latter? They are bombarded with messages. Is there not a real risk of dropping out? How to avoid this? How not to be ignored by customers?

Before the advent of digital, it was a potential danger. But since the proliferation of link channels and therefore messages with consumers, the threat is very real. The solution comes down to one word: relevance. Part of the solution lies in the personalization of messages, so as to find a favorable echo in each consumer. Rather than addressing a message to the masses or to a segment, with only one person, it is a matter of singling out the message to each individual. Pushed to the extreme, this logic also produces very personalized products. To get in fine exactly what you want. Consumers will pay attention to you as they get a solution to their individual needs.

Often companies focus on “commercial” pressure by avoiding over-solicitation. The threshold of pressure leading to this famous over-solicitation is decided in a completely arbitrary way without any behavioral consideration. Yet the answer is once again individual. It depends on my temporal proximity to the company, my interest of the moment for products or services it sells. Measuring the actual exposure of each consumer gives a different angle of vision. By looking at the number of times a person has actually been exposed to a communication from the company, one realizes almost systematically that he believes according to two dimensions:

  • If the pressure drops, the number of exposures increases. Obviously, there is a pressure threshold below which the number of exposures drops but there is a real lever. For a VOD operator, the number of exhibitions has increased by 28% by halving the number of emails sent.
  • Relevance, by the choice of products/services and the moment.

For the company, it is mainly about building bilateral relations, understanding the respective interests and playing the card of transparency. The company must really invest in order to understand consumers and create offers/communications that are in line with their expectations so that they feel heard and satisfied. This is the concept of common commitment, based on common rewards. The customer agrees that the company benefits from it, only if the game is worth the effort.

Fashion is business-oriented or customer-centric. Pretty words rarely followed by facts. The standard remains caricature to start by choosing a product and then to address a target at a time and with a given message/channel. The singularity of the customer is not taken into account. On the contrary, it should be a customer by client choose what is the most appropriate with a threshold of relevance given all that is possible in terms of communication/offer. The aggregation of these individual decisions will give the action plan. Timeframes and channels will then be chosen by the customer.

The annual customer action plans see quarterly are obsolete because not efficient. The time of a supply-based business relationship is over in favor of a demand economy. The consequence is simple, the company must adapt to the needs of each customer. It is not a question of stopping balances, private sales or product launch operations; consumers are always fond of it. But how then manage the juxtaposition with a brand communication? How to keep consistency for the consumer? The answer lies in the synergistic use of each approach and especially in the value proposition for the customer.

Let us project ourselves into a demand-driven economic world. The consumer can at any time have/buy a personalized product/service. The value proposition lies in the ability of the company to meet its need. The big commercial events are then only relational events. Here is the time of private sales with each for a different value proposition. Customization is omnipresent, the rest is animation.

To be successful in this new world will require a great proactivity. Indeed, although driven by the demand, the company will have a major role to play in the customer experience with the aim of a better loyalty and a better return on investment. Promoting products in line with each customer will not suffice, the next step will be the standard: the customization of the product itself and obviously the way it will be explained/presented. Here we are in hyper-personalization, finally in the real One to One.

Hyper customization

A merchant website or interfaces (banking, travel, advice, leisure, …) that adapt in real time according to the consumer (and all that is known to him), the place, the moment, his mood, its needs, in order to provide the most relevant experience possible. Welcome to the world of hyper-personalization. The transition from individualization to hyper-personalization involves considering new dimensions beyond the product/service. The objective of this approach is to add to the increase in sales, customer satisfaction, the simplification of interactions and develop a greater proximity to the company. What is a good customer experience? Everyone’s answer. Personally, I will highlight four dimensions:

  • Content relevant to individual expectations
  • A contextualization of my experience.
  • The use of adequate channels.
  • The temporality.

The challenge of hyper-personalization is to offer each consumer a unique experience and very close to him. A website that adjusts in real time, prices defined according to the issues, use of contact channels adapting to its constraints/ needs/preferences, an argument taking into account his expectations and feelings of the moment, etc. Is it science fiction? No, it’s just a near future. Everything is brought together for this: technology (artificial intelligence, 3D printers, mobility, …), consumer expectations and the transition to a demand economy. Surprise, relevance, and efficiency remain the three priorities. The surprise is to positively surprise his client all the time. Creating a habit is great because it’s a barrier to exit, but at some point, like any habit, the consumer will open his eyes and look elsewhere. Surprise maintains and develops.

The consumer can no longer be alone in front of a plethoric offer. Companies must accompany him in his experience from the beginning to the end of it. The experience can start spontaneously at the initiative of the person or the company can encourage it by a communication. Obviously, the hyper-personalization of these two cases differs on the temporality and the channels because of the initiative or not of the customer. A communication is delivered to a person at a specific moment, especially with the digital and its supports can be multiple. Choosing the best combination will enhance the relevance of communication. It must be completely customized by the client according to its uses, habits, possibilities (everything comes from customer knowledge).

Then, to be truly customer oriented, we must find in the digital world the human qualities of the best sellers of the real world: listening, advice, suggestion, empathy, argument, … Until then, it did not really appear possible in the relationship digital customer. But the advent of artificial intelligence and its areas of application in the voice, in particular, will soon greatly develop the cognitive dimension of hyper-personalization in real time beyond what is already possible to capture from social media and consumer behavior. In order not to be intrusive and counterproductive, a real service must be provided, whose value the customer must immediately perceive. We are no longer in the distribution of an argument even with a fine targeting.

Originally published at Entrepreneur News and Startup Guide.



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Aashish Sharma

Aashish Sharma

Aashish Sharma is a Founder and Blogger at https//www.entrepreneuryork.com, specializing in Social Media and Digital Marketing.