Personalisation vs privacy: why brands must get the balance right
The way we shop is changing. Consumers now enjoy a multitude of new options at their disposal, whether buying online, on a smart device or in-store.
But there is a gap between the brands looking to engage, and the consumers looking to buy. More than a third of shoppers abandon a purchase after a bad experience - in fact retailers are losing $18 billion a year this way. Abandoned purchases are nothing new, but they do have a knock-on effect, with one bad experience affecting the likelihood of a customer purchasing from the brand again.
Organisations must accept that traditional brand loyalty is being overtaken by “experience loyalty”. Digital-savvy shoppers don’t care much for heritage or expertise. They are more easily guided by the experience of their most recent purchase, price or convenience – and with rival products only a click away, brands cannot afford to ignore the new direction of travel.
While brand loyalty is driven by differentiation, experience loyalty is driven by personalisation. The key to personalisation is data.
The rise of social media, and other channels, has resulted in a proliferation of data, providing consumer product companies and retailers with an unprecedented opportunity to tap into a wealth of insight. Could a shopper’s geographic location improve their experience? Which mix of stories on a news site encourages the most clicks? Which colors (of shoes or phones) does this user tend to favor?
Yet while there is a hunger for data, the flipside is a mismatch between personalisation and privacy. Anecdotes such as the one about the father who discovered that his teenage daughter was pregnant through a targeted mailer are plentiful. A Capgemini report found that while personalisation initiatives are received positively across the world (80 percent), only 14 percent of retailers are perceived positively by consumers on both personalisation and privacy initiatives.
How can organisations perfect this balancing act, collecting enough data to enhance the experience without collecting too much data, or the wrong type, in a way that treads on the privacy of consumers? This conundrum has prompted The Consumer Goods Forum to develop a set of ‘Consumer Engagement Principles’, designed to act as a framework for how companies engage with consumers and to promote an environment of trust. In an effort to build said trust, one solution that brands such as Nestle and Unilever are trialing is increased transparency in their communication with customers.
This is of course in direct contrast to many existing privacy policies, which are shrouded in legal jargon and hidden away in the far corner of corporate websites. To successfully engage customers in the value of sharing data, companies must not only push privacy policies out of the shadows, but also actively explain the deal customers are getting, quantifying the link between what they share and what they stand to gain.
The nature of the new relationship between customer and brand will vary depending on user preferences and the value the organisation places on different types of data. How much is knowledge of marital status worth, to customer and to retailer? Is postcode more valuable than GPS location?
Those who share basic information should receive a basic level of enhanced personalised service. Sharing more data should result in greater reward. Although the retailer sets the framework, it is the customer who must ultimately retain control.
Retailers face a difficult question. All customers want better service, tailored and personalised to their needs. But not all are willing to share the data needed to make it happen. The only route to a mutually valuable relationship is greater transparency and a more proactive approach to communicating and managing the balance of privacy and personalisation.
By Kees Jacobs, Digital Proposition Lead, Capgemini
Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey
There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.
There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.
There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.
In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.
Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.
So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?
Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney
While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.
For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.
For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.
Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.
It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.
How do companies support the new customer journey?
More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.
These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.
The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?
For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.
It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.
And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.
It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.
At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.
About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.