• Deliver a personalized customer experience to transform your brand's customer relationships

  • Author: Satta Sarmah Hightower

Relying on mass marketing and generic messaging is no way to build a long-lasting relationship with your customers.

Today, consumers demand a personalized customer experience tailored to their preferences. In fact, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize and remember their preferences and provide relevant offers and recommendations. This means that personalization is now table stakes when it comes to engaging consumers and maintaining their loyalty.

But how can your company drive personalization? Modernizing your technology stack is one of the best ways you can develop an effective personalization strategy that transforms your brand's relationship with customers.

What is a personalized customer experience?

We all know what it feels like to get messaging from a company that doesn't hit the mark, whether it's receiving an email with a discount code for a product after you've already bought it or seeing a display ad that seems like it was meant for an entirely different demographic. Irrelevant messaging feels impersonal, and it makes consumers wonder if their relationship with your brand is purely transactional.

A personalized customer experience has the opposite effect. It helps improve customer relationships by making customers feel like you understand their wants and needs and what's important to them.

Data-driven personalization

Robust customer data drives personalization. When consumers visit different sites via mobile or desktop, click on a display ad, sign up for a newsletter, engage with your brand's social media channels or create a customer profile on your site, they essentially leave digital breadcrumbs your company can piece together to learn more about them and what they like.

With this information, you can deliver highly targeted and relevant messaging. For example, if a customer sets up a profile on your site and browses an item without putting it into their shopping cart, you can send them an email with a discount offer for that specific product, along with recommendations for similar products they may like. Personalization comes in several other forms, too—whether it's a store sending a consumer a birthday email every year to redeem a small gift, a hotel mobile app providing a list of recommendations for activities tailored to a customer's preferences when they check in or a grocery delivery app preloading a customer's shopping cart every week with the 10 items they most frequently purchase.

Personalization is a way to show customers their business matters to you, that you appreciate them choosing your brand over competitors and that you understand their loyalty isn't given—it's earned.

Why invest in personalizing the customer experience?

Personalization is crucial to differentiate your brand and to generate greater return on investment from your marketing efforts.

Research indicates that email campaigns segmented by audience increase revenue by 760% compared to one-size-fits-all mass marketing campaigns. Additionally, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when a brand offers a personalized experience.

Consumers now have seemingly countless options online. They can buy a product from a big-box retailer, purchase that same item from a brand's direct-to-consumer site or even purchase it resale from a consumer-to-consumer e-commerce site. With so many choices online, your brand can opt to compete on quality and price like so many other companies do—but you can also go one step further by investing in building a modern technology infrastructure that lets you make better use of your data to deliver personalized customer experiences.

How to personalize the customer experience and help improve customer relationships

Combining a customer-centric strategy with the data enabled by digital customer experience tools can help your organization personalize your interactions with customers.

Several tools and approaches can advance your personalization strategy:

  • Personas: Using market research and your existing customer data to create different customer personas can help you better understand the motivations of various audience segments and what compels them to purchase from your brand.
  • Journey mapping: Developing a journey map to visualize customers' paths to purchase can help your team develop relevant messaging for each stage along this journey.
  • Feedback: Collecting and analyzing customer feedback can help you better understand where there's currently friction in your customer experience and provide valuable insights you can use to develop a seamless omnichannel experience across mobile, desktop and the web.

However, you can't optimize all these processes without a data management platform to securely store and apply analytics to all your customer data. You also can't achieve this without a reliable, high-performing network infrastructure that allows your business to transfer all this data in the most efficient and secure way possible to the stakeholders who need this information to deploy best-in-class digital experiences.

Too often, companies face challenges with data silos and systems and networks that aren't reliable or have high latency, which slows the transfer of information throughout the enterprise. As companies contend with evolving data privacy requirements, they also have to be mindful of how customers want to engage with them once they've shared their data. Companies need to balance the trust consumers have placed in their brand with delivering a personalized customer experience that is engaging but not intrusive.

When customers choose to engage with your brand, they're giving you their time, their hard-earned money—and, increasingly, their data—to get something of value. That means you should give something of value in return. Sending customers irrelevant messages that don't speak to their needs or concerns isn't how you show them you value their business. However, a personalized customer experience shows them that you do.

By using digital customer experience tools that improve connectivity and reliability and enable you to draw deeper insights from your customer data, you can move away from making customers feel like they're one of many and, instead, make them feel as though you're marketing to an audience of one.

Learn how Verizon's customer engagement tools can help you deliver a personalized experience.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.