How Can You Hyper-Personalize Customer Experience?

This HGS blog should help you answer these key questions:

  • How can our company create a data strategy to personalize our customer experience?
  • What technology works best for personalization of customer data?
  • How do you measure customer data personalization?

It’s a simple fact: Today’s data-driven organizations outperform their competitors—up to 23 times, according to McKinsey Research. However, many organizations struggle to get the 360-degree picture of their customers needed to make hyper-personalization a reality. Where do the answers lie? Attendees found out more at our July 18 #webinar, with insights from our own Head of Data Analytics and Intelligence of HGS-Element Solutions, Venu Gooty. 

Our team kicked off the webinar by achieving a level set for attendees, by issuing our first poll, “How is your company’s current customer experience?” In response, 71% of attendees see room for improvement, commenting, “So-So. There’s much opportunity for improvement.” And 29% hold their current state in affairs in high regard, answering, “Great! Our customers love the experience we provide.”

Poll 2 adjusted the webinar focus to data strategy, asking, “How data-driven is your organization?” The majority of attendees—at 83%—are on the same page—looking for improvement, answering, “A little bit. We sometimes use data to make decisions.”  Only 17% of attendees answered “Completely! We use data to make all our business decisions.”

We took the pulse of attendees and their shift to this latest customer data trend, with our Poll 3 “Where is your business on the personalization journey?” The answers showed several stages of adoption, with 67% of attendee organizations answering “Basic segmentation,” and  a 17% tie for second place with focus on “Behavior-based recommendations” and “Omnichannel campaigns.”

We closed our presentation with a final poll and offered a complimentary four-hour strategy workshop, with nearly half of our attendees interested in hearing more. 

To help lay the groundwork for data-driven success, Venu took questions from the webinar audience:

Q1: What's the first step you'd recommend for a company like ours that’s just starting to personalize customer experience?

Venu A: Typically, customer experience personalization varies by perspective. For example, if you are part of marketing you want to understand web behavior. I think that these days all the businesses are getting pretty web savvy.

So, if you don't necessarily have tag management within your website, you want to do that. Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics are usually core platforms. Customer data platforms are not that difficult to get set up, and I've seen businesses using them and getting started within four to six weeks.

Q2: How do you reconcile the need to capture personal data with customer privacy requirements?

Venu A: This issue is becoming more and more important these days. Take, for instance, the general data protection regulation (GDPR) in Europe. A lot of businesses are starting to adopt GDPR, even within the U.S., although the U.S. has not yet taken an official stance. California is probably getting close to that through the California Privacy Act. A lot of websites are showcasing or mentioning the need for tracking and accepting cookies. At the same time, especially as a part of the GDPR, if the customer comes back and says “I don’t want you guys to hold any of my data within your systems” – you have the ability to delete that.

You may have seen this with organizations like Facebook and others. It's going to become more and more important for other businesses, as well. Customer data platforms, for instance, have some of those capabilities built-in so that once you turn it off or delete it, none of your campaigning or activation mechanisms would ever reach out to that client anymore. It requires a lot of thought and the right strategy needs to be put in place for every organization.

Q3: Is there one essential technology you'd recommend for data capture or personalization?

Venu A: For the web, Tag Manager is a good example of data you should be able to get from emails. You could also leverage other systems like analytics platforms to understand web traffic behavior. Once you start combining that together, you can use big data platforms, data lakes, data technologies, or customer data platforms in order to combine and consume them.

Once you have collected and created the 360-degree view, the orchestration of how you are going to personalize becomes very important. These days a lot of email campaign systems are getting smarter from an artificial intelligence (AI) standpoint, and they can take information from either data lakes or even the web traffic.  Based on this capture, they can try and make special predictive recommendations. The more data you have, the better will be that sort of recommendation.

Q4: What kind of metrics are associated with the types of programs that you are implementing? What levels of ROI expectation do you see?

Venu A: The journey that you take trying to get the data and segment it is a win and provides good ROI. If you can take that and integrate it with some of the back-end systems and make decisions out of it, you advance your ROI to the next level. While these are investments, McKinsey research shows that businesses employing data-driven decision-making are significantly outperforming other businesses. There are very few businesses that are truly data-driven, at this point. There is a lot of opportunity for companies to get there and compete.

Q5: How much company budget would you recommend for a customer personalization initiative?

Venu A: Some of the technology—like Google Tag manager and Google Analytics—is free, so you can get started with that. You need the right skills to be able to support with those initiatives. If you're looking at more complex systems, like customer data platforms, then, depending on the type or size of business, you may be looking at a few hundred thousand dollars from an activation standpoint. You still need to change the processes, and there must be a strategy involving your existing team. I'm not necessarily accounting for that as part of the costs or budget. I'm only talking about the tech investments. But if you're looking at corporate-wide investments for larger organizations, these could potentially run into millions of dollars.

Q6: How does this technology capture and personalization work in the healthcare and financial services sector? Those sectors certainly have a lot of consideration around personal information and privacy and security.

Venu A: We have seen this in our work with a healthcare client using a customer data platform. This client makes sure the data they use is not collected from any specific customer. You can still use a customer data platform to identify anonymous users and track and present information back to the anonymous users based on their behavior online. For example, take a potential customer who has come to your site and has looked at a particular service or disease. You may want to identify the opportunities around positioning your services. Or for healthcare institutions, you may want to position your hospital without explicitly stating that you understand specific disease potential customers might have. However, by highlighting and showcasing that you are an expert in a particular area, you are anonymizing and employing that data for personalization. This works similarly in the banking sector as well. The key is not to get too intrusive and use anonymous data sets.


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