Late last year the industry analyst firm Gartner published a report titled “The Customer Experience in 2020”. I have blogged in the past about this report because I really liked the way that Gartner described the changing nature of the customer service team, and how marketing and other customer-facing teams will need to work in partnership with customer services, creating a unified team focused on the customer relationship. But there was an important message in this paper about personalisation too.
Gartner had the foresight to suggest that by 2020 customers will expect a much more personal service than they receive from brands today. In particular this is because customers know how much data is collected on their purchases and preferences. Customers today are well-informed – they know exactly what brands can do with this data and so they expect better choices designed for them as individuals.
In the report Gene Alvarez, managing vice president at Gartner, says: “Customers will not tolerate companies that have amnesia when it comes to remembering them and their preferences for recognition”. He adds: “This makes it imperative for companies to recognise their customers and to serve them pertinent content that demonstrates the proper recognition and treatment.”
Customers today have a belief that they are engaging in a relationship with brands. This does not just apply to their communications, but the entire journey of purchasing and then possibly reviewing products. Customers have an expectation of recognition so brands need to create a personalisation strategy if they have not already started on this path. The customer and brand relationship needs to be mutually beneficial, and with the data demands from some brands now starting to border on intrusive, this is more important than ever. You can’t expect customers to give up all that data and then not offer them something in return.
“If they collect all my personal data,” the buyer or constituent thinks, “then they should at least use all that data to understand me before they interact with me.” Moreover, they expect the relationship to be a positive one. They expect the provider to be competent and efficient, to provide assistance in solving their problems, and to honour promises made.
What do you think about the balance between personalisation and privacy? How much data should customers be expected to hand over when they make a purchase? Leave a comment below and let me know, or get in touch on LinkedIn.