Creating a foundation of trust to deliver personalized experiences

Creating a foundation of trust to deliver personalized experiences
Jun 21, 2022
In a consumer landscape where personalization is key, and personal data is sacrosanct, how can companies use emerging technologies to create meaningful (and durable) customer relationships?
Personalization is table stakes, whether you’re an early-stage start-up or an award-winning brand that people have loved for generations. A personal relationship—a sense of specificity and attention that extends beyond a generic email sign-off—is good but not enough where consumer experiences are concerned. Personalization should encompass more than just the customer’s desires. It should extend to their communication preferences regarding channels and cadence. It should encompass everything from the experience that clients have on-site to their web chat and customer service interactions.

Today’s consumers are digitally savvy, and, as such, they have elevated expectations. To engender real customer loyalty, brands must exceed, not simply meet, those expectations. Building this sort of relationship with consumers requires a thoughtful, intelligent, and seamless user experience at every juncture of the customer’s journey. Companies must give their consumers a tangible feeling that they are recognized and understood by the brands they choose.

Caring for privacy in personalization

Customer expectations continue to rise, fueled by the acceleration of digital trends. The challenge for brands is to meet those rising expectations via innovation, with increasingly personalized experiences and targeted messaging. Ironically, however, these elevated expectations come in tandem with profound consumer skepticism when it comes to sharing the data that powers those well-tailored experiences. Many consumers, concerned about the increase in fraud, spam, and identity theft, are understandably hesitant to share their personal information.

Brands must establish trust with their customers by being good stewards of their data and providing the correct value exchange for the data they elect to share. Most consumers are willing to share information with brands if they believe it will result in more exclusive experiences, personalized recommendations, or services geared to their preferences.

Ask yourself what your customer is getting in exchange for their data and whether that value is proportional to the information they provide. If that equation looks one-sided, your customer is probably feeling it. Striking the right balance requires a customer-centric approach driven by the relentless pursuit to build more meaningful and authentic relationships.

The right strategy as a foundation

Brands need to make sure they are investing their time and resources correctly so that they don’t waste customer time or hamper personalization.

We can divide the brand behaviors that risk hampering, or even damaging, customer personalization into three major baskets.

  • Haphazard client recommendations or flavor-of-the-week technological solutions can do more harm than good if they misunderstand the customer’s needs.
  • If your company doesn’t have the right loyalty or customer relationship management (CRM) strategy, that can cause major setbacks to personalization efforts.
  • If your brand lacks a sound customer experience (CX) strategy as a foundation, your personalization efforts will inevitably flounder.

The strategy should drive the technology, not the other way around. New data and fresh insights should refine and inform any successful strategy. Embracing an ongoing feedback loop that identifies areas for improvement or optimization in real-time is mission-critical.

Customers are continually evolving. Driving increased participation with your brand requires you to evolve right alongside them. To craft the intuitive experience that customers crave, you have to pair the right strategy with the right technology. Beyond that, companies must simultaneously cultivate a reciprocal relationship with their customers—one that remains strong through periods of disruption and stands the test of time.

Boost your in-house capabilities with outside help

Brands should lean into predictive analytics in order to deliver personalized experiences and communications at scale. Partnering with a company that has a depth of experience in data augmentation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will equip your brand with the information you need to drive intelligent, real-time decisioning. It will allow you to anticipate the impact of different marketing programs and leverage technology and strategy to analyze and illustrate program performance without sacrificing specificity. Partnering with the right people, and using the right cutting edge technology, allows you to forecast brand developments with precision and plot a clear path toward brand success.

Scaling an individualized experience, which takes a 360-degree view of the customer, to a massive audience is a formidable challenge for most brands. Choosing a partner with a proven track record of excellence across a variety of fields ranging from CRM strategy and loyalty analytics to customer engagement and loyalty technology will ensure a seamless end-to-end experience for your customers—one that translates to measurable returns for your business, whether it’s a scrappy start-up or a long-established institution.

ICF’s global marketing services agency focuses on helping your organization find opportunity in disruption.
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Meet the author
  1. Tom Madden, Managing Partner, Loyalty and CRM

    Tom has more than 25 years of experience helping brands achieve their loyalty marketing and CRM goals View bio

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