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Here’s how you can deliver extreme personalization


Two articles caught my eye yesterday – Robert Nascenzi wrote an article “Real-Time Segmentation Levels the Playing Field” over on Destination CRM while Jeremy Nedelka wrote “The Ultimate Personalized Marketing” over on 1:1. Both articles focusing me in on what I have called “extreme personalization”. Jeremy’s article was a cute story about a school targeting applicants directly with personalized billboards and similar tactics. The campaign resonated with students because it “went out of its way to speak directly to them” and the article drew the (correct) conclusion that “in today’s world you have to create a deeper customer relationship”.

Now this is interesting but for many companies probably seems unreasonable. After all personalized billboards, for instance, won’t scale when you have huge numbers of prospective or actual customers. But analytic techniques can help out here. Moving on to Robert’s article we enter the realm of analytic segmentation. He gave the example of a company using advertising to bring in customers but then “Through no fault of their own, the wrong agents often make the wrong pitches with the wrong messaging to the wrong people”. He went on to say:

It’s time for companies to take all the knowledge they have about their customers, all their selling skill, and all the market research available on consumers as a whole — and apply it to brand-new prospects before the agent even picks up the phone.

and, obviously, continue to apply this throughout the rest of the conversation and indeed relationship.

Taken together these two mindsets, plus a focus on decisions, can deliver extreme personalization and here’s how:

  1. Use analytics to understand and segment customers and prospects at a fine grained level
  2. Establish a robust set of personalization information
  3. Replace campaign thinking with decision thinking where the decision as to what letter to send this customer, which agent deals with this prospect, what offer to extend to this person, which local store to mention when talking to this customer is individual
  4. Use the analytics and segmentation to make sure you make the right decision for each customer and use the personalization information to make it “personal”
  5. Deliver these extremely personalized messages, offers, products to the right people across all your channels

This is a topic on which I have written before and one on which I am sure I will write again. The way to use analytics to deliver a great customer experience is not to present information to people, not to gather information into dashboards, but to deliver personalized, targeted decisions.


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  • Jeremy June 5, 2008, 12:32 pm

    Thanks James, I believe that’s the first time one of my stories has been described as “cute.” I agree completely that the level of personalization that school showed doesn’t scale for large companies (and wouldn’t have for the school if it wasn’t for a huge endowment) and you’re right on about analytics technology being able to create a similar effect much more efficiently.
    Ultimately you have to care about the little things as part of your company’s culture. If employees don’t really care who the customer is or what they’re looking for, that’s not service. All it takes is a little investment and a little attention to detail to make a huge difference for customers.