What has the biggest impact: personalisation or individualised CX?

  • Posted on March 18, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

It’s 7.30am and you’ve just walked into your favourite coffee shop. You have the option of two different types of customer service.

“Hi there, how can I help you?”


“Hi Amir, the usual? Cappuccino with soya milk and a croissant?” (How did they know? I wasn’t even thinking about a croissant!)

Which one is your preferred experience? Which one is likely to bring you back to the same coffee shop tomorrow?

In a perfect world we’d all receive 100% relevant messages and product recommendations based on our own individual preferences. It hasn’t happened… yet. But soon the only way to stay one step ahead will be to go beyond personalisation and deliver truly individualised customer experiences.

Personalisation has already yielded proven results: according to figures from Forrester Research, it improves site conversion rates for 51% of retailers and improves average order values for 36%. Individualisation has even greater potential. So why is it only now becoming a reality?

Part of the reason is privacy concerns. I’m taking part in a panel discussion called Building Trust in the Era of GDPR at the Sitecore Experience event in London on 3 April. Come along to the discussion or grab us for a chat.

Another reason is the destructive effects of siloed business operations. Marketing teams, CX departments and technology teams aren’t joining forces to make the most of the data already collected by their business – and turn decision moments into actions.

Personalisation vs. individualisation: what’s the difference?
The terms ‘personalisation’ and ‘individualisation’ are perilously close in meaning, so let’s get our definitions straight: personalisation is offering a personalised experience based on common attributes of an individual’s customer segment. For example, first names in email subject lines, targeting LinkedIn ads according to job title, or sending an email with the customer’s loyalty card points total.

In contrast, individualisation is the practice of delivering a personal experience based on an individual’s past behaviours and preferences across the end-to-end customer journey.

marketing and technology personalization

Personalisation is often driven by marketing teams, but individualisation requires marketing, analytics, CX and technology teams to be working together.

The opportunity is there for the taking
Evolving from generic personalisation to individualisation presents a huge business opportunity, and consumers agree. According to Accenture, 58% would switch half or more of their spending to a provider that excels at personalising experiences without compromising trust.

However, many organisations lack the technology or the capabilities to make it happen: 71% feel that they have insufficient marketing technology skills in-house to build individualised customer experiences at speed.

We’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible. Implementing a successful personalisation strategy is still the first step towards enabling individualised experiences, and here is where to start:

1.Start small: Begin with one or two personalised experiences
Avoid overload by defining your strategy and starting small, beginning with only one or two personalised personas and/or journeys.

2.Prioritise content: Get your content strategy in order
Content is king – even more so when individualised customer experiences are your goal. A broad content library lets you pick and choose the right messages.

3.Own it: Empower your business to take control of personalisation
Empower your marketing team to manage personalisation technology themselves. Platforms like Sitecore let you do this easily.

You can find out more about these three steps in Avanade's strategic personalisation guide.

But surely this means more work?
Creating individualised customer experiences across multiple touchpoints (often online and at brick and mortar locations simultaneously) certainly sounds like a lot of work. But help is at hand, by combining your CX strategy with automation and AI.

Marrying well-governed AI with the right data lets you do more with less time and fewer resources. AI lets you become more predictive and less reactive, using past customer behaviour data to work out what your customers will do next. It can even proactively and automatically serve the right type of offer or content for different users.

Privacy is precious
To achieve this kind of experience, you need customer data, and that creates risk around GDPR compliance. The crucial first task is to establish trust with your customer and maintain it at all times. Customers are more likely to let you use their data if they trust your brand.

I’ll be talking about these challenges at Sitecore Experience in London on 3 April. Join us at the panel discussion on the topic of 'Personalisation in a world of GDPR'. It’s perfect timing, given that privacy is the single most important topic for individualisation and customer experience.

“I’m trying to make it happen, but there are barriers”
I hear you loud and clear. And you’re not alone. Around half of organisations I speak to are experiencing challenges. They have a digital or CX strategy, but they’re not getting results from their investments. They have the data but aren’t extracting its full potential.

Internal struggles seem to be everywhere you look: from breaking down internal organisational silos to getting the customer service or marketing team onboard.

So how do you make individualised customer experiences a reality for your business?

You could do it in-house, but you’ll miss out on the impartial, third-party perspectives an agency brings. You could hire a marketing agency or system integrator, but again, their range of experience is limited. A full service CX, marketing and technology partner is your best option.

How to stay ahead of the game
Avanade will be in booth #4 the Sitecore Experience event at 133 Houndsditch, London on Wednesday 3 April 2019. I’d love to meet you and talk about your experiences of individualised CX.

Find out more about the Sitecore Experience event.

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