Your Customers Want Personalised Interactions: Here’s How to Provide Them

December 6, 2023

Think back to the last time you had to call a customer service or technical support line. How many times did you have to explain the problem you were facing before you got to a proper resolution?

Chances are, you’ve experienced a situation where you had to repeat the issue you were facing—and the steps you’d already taken to resolve it—multiple times until you reached someone who could help. Now, imagine how it’d feel to call a help desk and be instantly connected with a technician who could see the steps you’d taken and the website pages you’d already visited so that they could provide customised guidance for your situation.

That’s the power of personalisation at work.

Growing Consumer Demand for Personalisation

When businesses and consumers think about personalisation, they often jump to simple actions like adding the recipient’s first name to an email field or surfacing recommended products based on past interactions with an e-commerce website.
But true personalisation goes beyond these types of “one-to-many” engagements. Today’s customers want to have consistent experiences with your brand, no matter how they’re interacting with you—whether that’s on your website, in your app, or in your brick-and-mortar store. And if they can’t get that experience from you? They’re likely to turn to your competitors who deliver them. 

Achieving this type of personalisation requires companies to stop looking at marketing, sales, customer service, and technical support as individual siloes. Instead, they must work together to create a cohesive, consistent customer experience—and the key to doing so is data.

How Customer Data Drives Personalisation

Creating consistent customer experiences across platforms and channels requires two things: data and the technology to utilise it across properties.

On the data front, many companies have long relied on third-party data to fuel their customer experience campaigns—that is, data that’s gathered by organisations without a direct link to your customers. Because third-party data is collected in aggregate, across innumerable individual transactions, it is easily available and provides a shortcut for organisations that haven’t built their own first-party data assets.

However, the increasing attention being paid to data privacy rights by both consumers and regulators is limiting the viability of third-party data. But while momentum around the Australian Privacy Act and GDPR is a net positive for consumers—who deserve to know that their personal data is being protected—many organisations are struggling to reduce their reliance on these vast datasets.

These changes—combined with the growing costs of third-party data—place an increased emphasis on the value of first-party data. But what is first-party data? And how can you collect and use it in accurate, compliant ways, at scale, in order to drive personalised customer experiences?

Building a First-Party, Data-First Strategy

Compared to third-party data, first-party data comes from your direct interactions with your customers. Some examples of first-party data points include:

  • Purchase history
  • Website visits (including individual pages visited and total time-on-site)
  • Email interactions (including email opens, link clicks, and eventual purchases)
  • SMS interactions
  • Social media interactions across platforms
  • Registered user logins

Taking these and other data signals into account gives you a comprehensive understanding of who your customers are and how they interact with your brand. It’s easy to see how these data points could be used to create more personalised interactions. But if you’re like most organisations, understanding how to actually do so can feel more elusive.

With that in mind, consider the following tips on building a data-first strategy that’s grounded in first-party data.

Assess Your Data Supply Chain

Chances are, your company is already collecting a substantial volume of first-party customer data. But to be able to transform it into actionable insights, you first need to understand your existing customer data framework. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where is your customer data being captured? 
  • How is it being stored?
  • How is it standardised and validated?
  • How does it flow between systems?
  • Is your data flowing between systems in a timely manner, or is there a lag that’s holding you back from being able to personalise interactions in real-time?
  • Do you have appropriate provisions in place for deleting customer data?

Not only will this help you identify areas where a stronger data collection approach may be helpful, but it can also reveal areas of compliance risk. If any of your customer data is being stored or transported in ways that are out of compliance with your country’s regulations, prioritise addressing this before attempting to leverage your data.

Plan a Data-First Tech Stack   

The volume and velocity of data that most organisations are collecting these days means that manual interpretation of customer data is virtually impossible (and it certainly won’t translate to real-time personalised experiences).

As a result, you’ll need to ensure that your tech stack is up to the challenge of collecting and analysing your vast customer datasets. If you don’t already have this technology in place, you may need to add:

  • Data storage, including data lakes or data warehouses
  • Big data analytics and reporting tools
  • Website personalisation technology
  • Login and identity validation tools
  • Personal data consent and management solutions, like AdFixus

Secure Initial Buy-In to Drive Early Momentum

If all of this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. You don’t have to solve every first-party data challenge overnight—and you don’t have to give up third-party data completely.

Instead, start by focusing on early wins that all of your stakeholders can appreciate. Even introducing standard naming conventions for your existing customer data or adding first-party cookie technology represent positive steps toward building the kind of data-first strategy that’ll enable you to deliver customer experiences that are safe, compliant, and personalised in the future.

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