Personalization: The final frontier in making Customer Experience (Cx) smarter

Posted on 29 Jun 2022

Yes, yes, personalization has been around forever. What’s ‘new’ or ‘smart’ about it, right? Apparently, smart brands do. Moving past that sass, it is important to understand that the definition of ‘personalization’ has changed. It has moved from meeting the needs of your customer to matching the expectations of your customer.

But, how can you consistently match the expectations of your customer? Now you’re asking the right questions!

Well, there are a few ideas which you can knock around and see which fits best:

Tracking your customer journey

The simple and outdated version of this is understanding your customer’s wants and needs. Brands can no longer just be satisfied with just their customer’s needs and wants. They have to go a level beyond and understand the expectations of their customers.

The only way for this to happen is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and track his or her journey, feel the surface for shards of glass or the odd, misshapen stone which might endanger your customer to take a different path enroute to your competitor as the destination.

Now that that is clear, what DO you need to trace your customer journey and identify roadblocks? If your first guess was DATA, you would get a ‘Dead on, mate!’ Yeah, way to go, you!

Also, is time to unveil the next idea, which is also the most important one here! Incidentally, tracking your customer journey is actually a part of the next idea, throughout all its stages!

Design Thinking 

The best thing about Design Thinking is that it upsets the status quo and those who consider status quo as their holy grail. Make no mistake, no progress whatsoever is possible without upsetting these people.

But what is this ‘Design Thinking’? It is a solution-based, hands-on approach that challenges assumptions and first attempts to understand the customer. (deliberately avoiding the use of the word ‘empathy’ here considering how it has been abused and thrown around) Once the brands understands the customer, it can then design personalized solutions and follow it up with smarter customer experience.

There are 5 phases in Design thinking:

1. In her shoes – If you’re going ‘Isn’t that a Cameron Diaz movie!’ this section is exclusively for you. David Ogilvy mentioned ‘Your customer is not a fool. She is your wife’. You can consider this an ode to that quote. Anyway, this phase involves putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and understanding her problems.

2. Define, don’t stereotype – Now there is a marked difference between stereotyping and defining your customer’s needs and problems. Based on certain data, you should not jump the gun and arrive at a conclusion. You would have to start over again.

Here’s what you do: Define the personas of your customers and identify the emotional triggers for decision making. Then stumble upon the HMW – How Might We solve the problem framework. That is the destination here.

3. Ideate – Here, you can use another framework called IHFO – Innovation, Hygiene, Functionality and Outlier. It’s pretty self-explanatory as you might have understood. Divide your ideas into four components: Ideas that solve the Hygiene issues, then focus on the Functionalities your customers would prefer based on the problems, needs and expectations you arrived at in your definition phase. ‘I wish I had...’ framework helps you understand what would have made the decision-making process easier and hence gives the opportunity to come up with innovative solutions that are often not obvious.

4. Prototype – You will then productize your solutions into prototypes - like the name says it will ideally be a solution that is the first of its kind developed by you for the problems you defined.

5. Test – It is what the name says. It is a Test alright! The most exciting part here is that you don’t know if it is going to work. It is a thrilling exercise, like seeing an airplane take off for the first time. Or better, journeying in an airplane for the first time – all that nervous excitement of digging your nails into the skin of your fellow passenger when the plane takes off.

It is important to remember that the entire design thinking process is iterative. It involves making adjustments, retracing your steps through all the processes and then arriving at incrementally innovative prototypes and testing it all over again.