Doesn’t it feel great when the barista from your local coffee shop remembers your name and knows exactly how you like your morning coffee? Doesn’t it inspire comfort when your favorite restaurant’s host recognizes and greets you by your name? And have you noticed that when you deal with these same businesses online—thought a website or mobile app—your experience is often starkly worse? Bringing hyper-personalization to the user experience is the new imperative.
Smart businesses know that providing personalized service, and individual attention, is not only memorable and engaging for the customer, but is also good for business. For starters, it allows customers to feel connected and recognized by the brands and companies they frequent. It doesn’t take long for customers to pick their favorites. However, aim incorrectly and they’re gone.
The same idea holds true for services provided through digital platforms. As more and more services transition online—a shift that has been accelerated by COVID—it is hard to overstate the importance of providing a digital user experience that is personalized, straight-forward, and helpful.
Paradox of Digital Transformation
A great paradox of digital transformation is that brands that established themselves in the offline world have struggled to deliver a high-quality user experience through digital channels (and not for lack of trying). This is despite the fact that digital channels inherently afford far more abundant data that can be readily leveraged to personalize the customer experience, and at scale.
But try to complete a complex banking transaction through the digital property of a well-known offline brand, and it wouldn’t be uncommon for you to be instead steered to a phone or in-person interaction. Or try to change your car title through the DMV’s “virtual field office,” and you’ll, more often than not, end up finding yourself printing and mailing the paperwork.
Digital-Native Brand Advantages
That is a key reason why newer, digital-native brands have been able to take substantial market share aware from long-established incumbents and, in many cases, have expanded the addressable market. This is despite the fact that newer brands lack the recognition, track record, and balance sheets of the incumbents. A key factor that separates the winners from the losers is the User Experience. In today’s market, the user experience is the product.
For example, look no further than Omega Venture Partners’ portfolio company ZenBusiness, Inc. ZenBusiness provides a simple, streamlined, yet robust digital platform for anyone to form, operate, and scale a business. Having enabled over 200,000 business formations, the company leverages machine-learning to personalize the user experience, and AI-enabled automation to drive efficiencies in customer acquisition, monetization, and service delivery.
Most important, the company leverages an abundance of data to hyper-personalize the user journey. That means providing an experience that is intuitive, personalized, and proactive. Machine Learning does the heavy lifting of predicting customer journeys. This enables the platform to proactively nudge users to their next-best action. From the user’s perspective, this is nothing short of magical. The platform anticipates the user’s needs and proactively makes suggestions with context, reasoning, and confidence. The platform becomes an AI-enabled coach who guides the user every step of the way. And each user’s AI coach is hyper-personalized to their unique needs. This is something that legacy platforms just can’t do that at scale.
From Email to Omnichannel
Previously, emails were the primary form of communication between digital properties and their customers. Businesses would send emails to their customers notifying them of the latest promotions, recommendations, and content based on their past purchases and browsing behavior. However, in today’s multi-device, hyper-connected world, brands are realizing that this approach is not enough.
As inboxes become inundated with marketing emails, people are no longer opening and reading them. The optimal opportunity for brands to get a user’s attention is in the moment of engagement. Brands now have to design and deliver tailored communications to each of their customers in the moment of engagement—and do so in real time, while making sure to be consistent and synchronized across multiple touchpoints and channels.
The Future of User Experience is Artificial Intelligence
But how do you accomplish that for each customer? And is it possible? Enter AI-based engagement strategies. AI-driven engagement changes the nature of how marketers make decisions and implement campaigns. With AI, brands can analyze, process, and provide customers with hyper-personalized content based on their predicted behavior and predicted preferences.
As businesses strive to drive digital growth, they will need to better understand their most valuable customers—those who are more active online and willing to pay for products and services that suit their needs—and individualize the user experience. Through increased digitization and advanced data technologies, organizations can build comprehensive profiles of customers and gain a deeper insight to their preferences and behaviors. AI-enabled personalization can then organize the information in real-time to determine the types of customer interactions to have given a situation. By utilizing data and AI technologies, brands can personalize the user experience to accelerate results, appealing to and retaining more loyal customers.
According to the Harvard Business Review and McKinsey, personalization at scale delivers five to eight times the ROI in marketing spend and reduces marketing and sales costs by 10 to 20 percent. Because digital interactions generate abundant data, businesses are able to leverage and analyze their customer data in real-time to develop these personal and unique interactions.
Eight Ways to Personalize the User Experience
This type of hyper-personalization allows for customized and targeted customer experiences. With data analytics, AI, and automation, businesses can reach out to specific customers at the right time and place, and through the appropriate channel. Hyper-personalization can be applied throughout the customer journey from browsing through a webpage to purchasing a product or service, and post-purchase cross-sell, retention, and up-sell.
There are at least 8 key areas where the customer journey can be hyper-personalized:
- Custom advertising creative
- Dynamic pricing and promotions
- Product / service recommendations
- Customized messaging / call-to-action
- Omnichannel customer service
- Push notifications
- Real-time product updates based on history, location, and user behavior
- Loyaltyand reward programs
Some of these marketing strategies are so seamless that most of us aren’t aware they’re happening. For example, Netflix users receive a highly individualized experience that begins from the homepage. The array of movies and shows displayed on the homepage was actually selected and curated for the viewer based on their viewing history and habits. Netflix’s algorithm combines behavioral attributes with predictive learning in order to send its millions of users unique recommendations to increase engagement and retain memberships. And it’s not just the viewing history that’s being analyzed- it’s the ratings, screen times, preferred device, and viewing intervals. Despite all this seeming complexity, the results are successful. 80 percent of Netflix users follow through on recommendations made by the recommendation engine and only 20 percent search for content.
Delivering hyper-personalization to the user experience by utilizing AI technology is a win for both the business and its customers. It drives profit, improves and elevates customer experience, makes data-driven decisions, maximizes revenue, and reduces cost. And as more companies embrace personalization along the customer journey, customers are now expecting a level of individualized interaction.
Businesses need to make a lasting impression on their customers in a short amount of time in order to compete effectively. Hyper-personalization is a means to sift through the clutter and offer customers exactly what they want. Hyper-personalization aids in decision-making and cultivates deeper relationships that prevent customers from looking elsewhere.