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Why Businesses Struggle to Personalise Products (...And How to Ensure You’re not One of Them)

  • 6 mins read
Jon Hume
by Jon Hume
Client Services Director

Jon is Client Services Director at Graphite Digital. An experienced digital strategist with a passion for helping big businesses leverage technology.

Published on Monday 11th June 2018

‘When you market to everyone, you market to no one’. That’s a common quote thrown around but few companies truly take it to heart. Many are stuck in a loop churning out ‘one-size-fits-all’ customer experiences.

Personalisation isn’t fully understood by all. Some stop personalising their customer experience after they insert their customer’s name in their email marketing campaign. If that’s all a company’s doing to ‘personalise’, they’re doing their customers, themselves and their bottom line a disservice – with a 2017 McKinsey survey revealing personalisation can increase company profits by 15-20%. 

It takes time, effort, and communication to learn about your customers and what they really want from you. As there are many steps that are needed to learn this information, employees tend to stay in their lane – despite knowing that they could be doing much more to create a personalised experience.


Why are some businesses so poor at personalising their products?

  • Teams aren’t being trained/nobody’s been asked to focus on personalisation.
  • They don’t know how their customers are using their products.
  • No real understanding of what a good customer experience is.
  • They aren’t looking beyond the opt-in data that customers initially submitted to them.
  • Companies just copy others, with expected features such as ‘Other customers viewed/purchased’ type messaging on their platforms.


Building a personalised customer experience takes time

Creating a tailored personalised customer experience is a commitment. Even the biggest companies can’t deliver a personalised experience from the get-go: they need to give the user time so that they can observe their actions, listen to their questions and feedback. Then – and only then – they can start to improve their experience.

For instance, I recently ordered a new game from Amazon, ‘Sea of Thieves’ (a pirate-themed Xbox One game). I continued to shop on Amazon for a few minutes and then I saw this…

Amazon Reccomends

A vertical stand for a PlayStation 4? I just bought an Xbox game! And don’t get me started on the pirate accessories. (I don’t think I like any game enough to dress up for it....).

But just a few days later I was browsing on Amazon again – and this time all of their product suggestions were items I’d consider buying.


Some people don’t view personalisation as a good thing

A client of ours told us something about customer views on a personalised approach that alarmed us (at first). They said customers would often give statements along the lines of:

‘Personalisation is just used so you can send me even more emails.’

‘I work as a specialist in a specialist field, you don’t provide content tailored for me as what I need is very specific.’

Plus, a 2018 Gigya report claimed that 44% of people ignore all future communications from brands that do not target them correctly...

This is a big problem. There’s a fine line between neglecting customers and blasting them with impersonal junk. Thankfully, GDPR is here, which makes it easier for you to create a customer-centric customer experience, but that fine line needs to be found if you are to delight your customers.

Don’t let those quotes put you off. Those were from people who received poor or no personalisation from companies whatsoever. If a company had a process to assess their customers’ needs, and tweaked their product for both customers, I’m confident they would have said something different.

When a customer experience makes the effort to be as personalised as possible, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Everyone wants to be understood. Whether it be by a close friend or company – the human need to be understood stays the same.

Personalising your products will improve your customer relationships; an impersonal customer experience will only push customers away.


How to consistently personalise your products

We all need to know more about our customers. But how do you achieve this without boring your customers with endless checkboxes, or getting shady like Facebook did with a Cambridge Analytica-esque scandal?

1. Always keep the user at the centre of your thinking

Innovation can pull you in different directions. It’s easy to follow the competition or to satisfy your own ego with products that impress you, but – are they adding value to your users?

When you maintain laser focus on giving as much value as possible for your customers, personalisation will always be on your mind and it should naturally become a company-wide priority.

2. Develop a strategy to stay on top of personalisation

A clear strategy is needed to ensure no customer information slips through the cracks, and the info that is collected is used to improve the experience for each individual. Your personalisation doesn't end at the customer opt-in form. This is where it starts.

Developing a strategy around how you can help the user to complete their tasks more effectively and building an understanding of them as an individual by monitoring how they interact with your product over time. Look beyond the opt-in forms, there’s much more to learn as the customer continues to use your product - keeping a close eye on your customers’ actions leads to those lightbulb moments, giving you new ideas to produce more value.

Observe your customers. Talk to your customers – and listen to what they have to say.

3. Build personalisation into your business, not just your marketing

Without structure and processes in place, you can’t develop a culture of personalisation into your company. Roles will need to be assigned and teams will need to be trained to ensure personalisation is a company-wide commitment.

Companies spend big money to get expert help in these areas, but it’s often an extremely short-lived change if they don’t apply what they’ve learned into their company’s way of working.


View your customer experience with fresh eyes

Innovation can be daunting, especially with irritated customers using social media to name and shame poor customer experiences. Too many companies play it safe, leaving innovation to their competitors (which is actually the most dangerous move you can make).

We know the problems organisations face, which is why we offer free Experience Workshops. These are 2-hour sessions, designed for you and your stakeholders to reassess your customer journey with our team, giving you time to consider opportunities to improve your own customer experience.

Book your spot at a free Experience Workshop. We’ll assess your customer journey to see what we can do to add more value to both your customers and organisation.