Overcoming CX Personalization Roadblocks

Keith LaFerriere, Chief Creative Officer

No one likes a roadblock. It impacts progress and has the tendency, particularly in high-speed situations, to make you feel like you've lost ground. Removing them, however, not only clears the path, but allows for you to think and act differently. It allows you to create a set of experience optimizations that invite the brand's guest into the living area, sets them up with high tea, and offers them a myriad of options to satisfy their pallet, without any issues in collecting the preferences along the way.

But, how do brands achieve this personalized approach, without the impediment of any roadblocks?

Asking the right questions

Brands often think that the only person who has the right to ask any questions are the visitors. Not true. As a brand, you have every right to find out what matters, and by silently collecting those answers, you find the balance.

In the digital landscape, something that can block the direct path we want to take isn't always tangible. We have to ask the right questions to balance the thing that's aggravating our process over the thing that's just a minor inconvenience.

Employing surveys can be a way to make these useful and truly meaningful to your customers. First, launch an “old school” campaign by hosting a call with a valued customer and asking to hear and really listen to their concerns and recent complaints. This customer will be the initial model for the constructively critical survey you release to your customers based on these issues. Your next step is to ask questions that are framed from the information that your most loyal customers shared with you. These are the right questions and feedback from these surveys will let you know what's standing in the middle of your brand's traffic.

Sometimes surveys won't be necessary. Common overarching problems that impact an industry can spur the instant reevaluation of a process you use every day. Let's use data mining as an example.

Recent problems with data mining

Service hacks, interruptions, fear, and distrust aren't going away. The more people learn about their sharing habits (and those of their networks), the more it poses a roadblock for brands and consumers trying to interact. Recent Facebook data exploitations have made customers across the digital board adamant that their data be handled with more care. Reevaluating the tech we use on our customer data instantly becomes the first step of an enhanced customer experience. We are taking steps to avoid the crisis they are trying to avoid encountering ever again. And, we have to start asking ourselves the right questions.

Knowing that hurdles like the Facebook issue aren't caused by mere technical oversight, we start looking for the weak points that led to the overall data meltdown there. Are we making any similar mistakes? Are we doing something right that we can work with to make the CX go from good to great?

There are a great many folks that see the recent problem with Facebook as an insider threat. They also believe they've been let down. Emotionally, the disconnect has begun, and so with it goes the value of the experience.

Empathy leads to solutions

Putting ourselves in our customer's shoes, we realize that data mining is like test driving their data to take them to a certain destination. If a valet demolished our car at a hotel, would we ever visit that hotel again? (Maybe, but not with our own car, perhaps.)

It's the same with any digital brand/service. If brands “drive” the data around to reach a specific destination and then “crash”, they've not only destroyed the vehicle they had to engage with our customers, but also the customer's vehicle of engagement.

Accountability presents a challenge when not handled well. Safe “driving habits” and a map to a brand's destination can prevent accidents and incidents on a real road map. Suppose we were to customize the experience to include a “traffic report” of sorts for our digital world. Transparency is a significantly helpful tool.

Customize data use to be ethical/transparent

A current trend for customer data experience improvement is data mining. Most humans agree that the shorter distance a customer must travel through data to reach what they want to see is a better choice for CX optimization. Yet in the light of recent events, this optimization can be a roadblock.

Data mining is often intended to help make the customer's life easier. Yet if we infringe even unconsciously upon their privacy they become expectedly alienated - customers are then likely to run away from you and over to a brand they feel they can trust. Simply put: this defeats the purpose of CX optimization by careless lack of emotional and interpersonal intuition.

If brands are going to use data in any respect, then they need to remove the distrust. They can do this by building on data mining transparency. Customizations need to build around full transparency reporting. Suppose a data account statement could be prepared in custom detail and emailed or even snail-mailed to each valued customer. When your customer can see a roster of every instance their data was used, they may feel more secure in allowing you to “borrow” it to improve CX.

Course correcting with engagement

Engaging interactive software to show the user a walkthrough of what each data use means potentially helps them understand the effort. They shouldn't need to be a web developer to understand how their info helped you make a CX improvement possible if you've showed them in a visual, graphic, and creative way that matches your brand's trademark behavior.

Emotional intuition metrics

Still, with every effort to be transparent, the brand must engage more interpersonally with the customer to avoid censorship. You can do your best to showcase the technical details of your CX optimizing actions, but if you aren't leveling with them they may sense you are being dishonest.

To improve CX, focus more on buyer emotional intuition metrics than on optimization technicalities. Customers currently complain that brands use tech like data retracing to spam them with unwanted, frequent personal emails to make any kind of impact on their buying decision.

Sending out one personal call from a brand representative asking for the customer's current concerns and issues with the brand changes the approach to this roadblock. You aren't asking them to answer questions that feel narcissistic, and they don't feel forced to tell you how great our brand is based on all this gooey friendly content you mailed. Rather, they are being given an open forum with a live representative to express their feedback on your actions.

Make inside-out strategies sturdy

Your technology isn't the only thing that needs to constant work. Your emotional intuition is also important, but this roadblock will be overcome mostly by hiring friendly, well-vetted people. Once you have committed the maximum amount of attention you can spare on these things, move on to internal structure. Roadblocks tend to pop up faster than we come up with solutions. Constantly reassessing strategies is key to course-correcting bumps that obstruct the path based upon time-sensitive issues.

Making personalization issues “personal”

Failing to realize that CX optimization is just as important for your company's well-being as it is for the customer can be a roadblock. Personalization issues are personal. They reflect directly on the company as an entity and the culture of that place as a place to work. If customers are disgruntled with a company, they have a tendency to take it out on the people from the brand they have immediate access to. (That would be your customer service employees.)

Hospitality comes first

Technology may be a contributing factor to improving, building, and course correcting the CX personalization pathway. Yet it is not the first or final thing that creates that path and keeps it on the straight and narrow. Hospitality is the key. Branding hospitality must come before cleverness, and applying measures to maintain the most hospitable CX personalization efforts is the golden rule for maintaining speed and return use of the customer's journey.