Imagine yourself at home, searching for an improved method to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes when you surf the web. You’ve been meticulously checking a particular online brand for complaints, reading reviews, and making sure every detail is in order as you search for a trustworthy brand.
Ads for the latest trendy eye candy or gold foils seem to pop up on YouTube every other break now. No matter how hard you try, all you can see on Instagram are clips about cosmetics. There’s no need to worry. Those websites do seem to be keeping tabs on you.
Step right up to the personalised universe, where I’ll be keeping tabs on your every move. Just joking, or am I?
Individualisation In Security
There is a delicate balance between being creepy and personalizing, despite the fact that customisation has enhanced the customer experience. It is the responsibility of every business that values consumer satisfaction to exercise caution when using personalization, especially when things grow too genuine. Does someone really have their eye on you?
Now, what exactly is personalization?
First, we need to agree on what personalization actually is. The term “personalization” refers to the process of making a service or good more suitable for a specific user. Making the customer’s experience more relevant and convenient is the goal of personalization.
There are numerous sorts of personalization, such as tailored product recommendations, targeted advertisements, and more. Customization appears to be an obvious choice at first glance, doesn’t it? Customization is what everyone desires. Eighty percent of customers say they are more likely to buy from a company that caters to their individual needs. And that’s not all either. Sales and customer loyalty can both rise as a result of personalization.
Isn’t That a Stretch?
A whopping 91% of customers would like to buy from firms that can identify them, keep track of their preferences, and then provide them personalised recommendations and deals.
It’s incredible. You can see why both businesses and consumers place a premium on customization and perfection. Customers may get uneasy and decide they no longer want to do business with your brand as a result of improper handling of this issue.
Resist the Urge to Stalk
Inappropriate personalization can swiftly become unsettling. Joe Goldberg is a bookshop manager who becomes fascinated with a customer named Guinevere Beck; the story is told in the phenomenal Netflix series You, which many people have seen. After getting into Beck’s apartment and learning everything he can about her from her social media accounts, Joe begins to stalk her both online and in real life. Joe, it’s safe to assume, is a stickler for individualization.
Although the majority of businesses aren’t engaging in Joe’s level of customer surveillance, there are certainly many instances of unsettling personalization in the actual world. Consider the following scenario: you go to a website, and then an ad for that very thing follows you around the web for weeks. Or perhaps you’ve never dealt with this organization before, but you got an email addressing you by your first name anyway? These are only a handful of the many instances where customization has backfired. Particularly in the financial sector, there is debate over how to best separate personalization from privacy.
Dodgy Business Practices
The ways in which customization could lead to problems are not always immediately obvious:
- Before she told her father she was pregnant in 2012, he found out because Target had mailed a teenage girl coupons for baby-related products based on her shopping history. Based on her shopping habits, Target was able to deduce that she was probably pregnant because she bought unscented lotion and specific vitamins. They then utilised this information to send her targeted adverts. The incident highlighted worries about the volume and use of detail that businesses have access to.
- In 2017, the fitness monitoring software Strava made public a worldwide heat map that showed where and how military troops exercised, including in secret or sensitive areas. Users’ location data was used to generate the map, which exposed the private information of service members who had not thought about the consequences of revealing their exercise data. The incident brought attention to the possible security issues associated with gathering and exchanging personal information.
- Amazon was under scrutiny in 2019 for its use of algorithms to provide individualised suggestions that included damaging material such as conspiracy theories and bogus health claims. For instance, it’s not uncommon for anti-vaccine books to come up in results when you search for “vaccines” on Amazon. The event brought up questions regarding the moral obligation of businesses to guarantee the accuracy and safety of individualised suggestions.
- After coming under scrutiny in 2014 for a study that involved giving almost 700,000 users positive or negative items in their newsfeeds to affect their emotions, Facebook eventually pulled the plug. Many participants felt manipulated and questioned the study’s ethics, despite the fact that its intended purpose was to examine the transmission of emotions through social networks.
- Matchmaking service Hinge said in 2018 that it will begin using AI to determine customers’ “most compatible” preferences and then propose dates that would be perfect for them. Some users felt the app’s algorithms perpetuated harmful gender and racial stereotypes, such as the idea that Asian women should limit their dating relationships to white males.
- The 2019 tailored search results that Google produced using linguistic models built on a vast amount of data dissatisfied many users. Assumptions like women’s proper place in the house and racial disparities in criminal propensity were discovered to be inherent biases in the models.
Technology and Customisation
There are other technical solutions that can be helpful, in addition to these recommended practices! For instance, ML and AI can be employed to tailor the consumer experience in a way that doesn’t go overboard. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can improve the client experience by studying their habits and preferences to generate more personalised recommendations and offers. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can also identify and block intrusive or coercive personalization attempts.
Businesses can use personalization to make their consumer experiences more welcoming to people of all backgrounds. Various client demographics, such as individuals with disabilities, diverse cultural origins, and varied interests and hobbies, can have their specific requirements met through the use of personalization. This is a great way for businesses to show their customers they care about their diversity and inclusion.
Ways to Deliver Unforgettable Experiences (That Aren’t Creepy)
The question then becomes: how can businesses stay out of the “that’s weird” or “stalker” range of doing business?
- Clear Communication
- Data ownership by the customer
- Make ethical and responsible use of data
- When it comes to customization, don’t use a cookie-cutter approach.
One approach is to be forthright about how and why data is used. Customers have a right to know what information is being gathered, why, and with whom. The truth is that if a business is honest about how it uses customer data, 92 percent of people will be more inclined to trust it with their data. Being forthright and truthful is all it takes.
Encouraging consumers to manage their own data is another strategy to stay out of their way. It is important to provide customers with the choice to delete their data or opt out of data collection altogether. This reassures clients that their data is safe and that the business is not exploiting them for financial gain.
Businesses also need to act ethically and responsibly while handling customer data. The goal of personalization should be to improve the consumer experience, not to trick or mislead them. Additionally, businesses should check that the data they acquire is current and correct. Misguided personalization efforts caused by inaccurate data might negatively impact the user experience. Keep in mind that customization isn’t a magic bullet either. Efforts to personalise should take into account the fact that different clients have different tastes.
Sure, customization has the potential to be a game-changer when it comes to satisfying customers. Nonetheless, one must exercise caution and integrity when utilizing customisation. In doing so, businesses may earn customers’ trust and loyalty by providing them with an experience that is unique to them and tailored to their needs.
It should be noted that customization is not the sole strategy to improve the consumer experience. Although customization is a valuable tool, it isn’t always required or suitable. Consider the following example: some clients may choose a cookie-cutter approach, while others may place a premium on extensive customization. It is important for companies to recognise these distinctions and adapt their strategies appropriately.