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Customers want personalization but trust is a critical component for success

December 15, 2017 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

Given the abundance of options for today’s digitally-savvy consumers, it has never been more important to understand their preferences and expectations in order to best serve their needs and retain their business. The intersection of privacy and personalization is a particularly tricky spot to navigate. Today’s consumers are more worried about data privacy than they are about losing their income. At the same time, they expect increasingly personalized digital experiences. There is only one way to bridge that divide, according to the 2017 Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Research: Build Trust.

Accenture’s research, which surveyed 24,877 consumers in 33 countries, found that 48% of consumers expect specialized treatment for being a good customer. And Accenture believes that this entails “next generation personalization” which they call “hyper-relevance.” Many current personalization tactics are static and relate to certain consumer behaviors. However, Hyper-relevance—like today’s digital consumers—is “always on.” It is much more dynamic, constantly changing and always available.

rather than focusing solely on customers’ purchase behaviors and preferences or relatively fixed attributes, such as their address or number of children, Accenture says it is essential to understand on customers’ needs in a given circumstance and the evolving context in which they make decisions.

As such, data gathered from website visits, social media posts, or previous purchase histories will not suffice. Rather, what’s needed is information that is much more personal in nature—such as health data transmitted via wearable biometric technologies. Needless to say, that’s getting highly personal. And when things get that personal, the potential rewards go up immensely. However, risk also rises.

It is heartening to note that two-thirds of those surveyed said that they are willing to share personal information with companies. But there’s a catch. They will only do so in exchange for some perceived value. And if that value exchange—or the trust upon which it is based—is broken, customers will quickly move on.

Accenture emphasizes that securing and maintaining consumer trust is a prerequisite to achieving the promise of intelligent personalization. They point out that it takes time to build trust, but that it can be shattered with one wrong move. Thus, companies must counter that risk by constantly presenting themselves as trustworthy, keeping their promises, and upholding their end of the value exchange agreement.

As companies seek to deliver hyper-relevance, Accenture makes three recommendations:

1. Look beyond the traditional customer journey

Companies that distinguish themselves with hyper-relevant experiences look beyond the traditional customer journey. They identify and prioritize those areas where hyper-relevance can deliver added value and quickly address the unexpected. Ask questions like: What can we offer once we realize our customer has missed her flight? Received a job promotion? Been forced to flee a hurricane? In these situations, customers need different things and relevance becomes supremely important.

2. Rethink data

Hyper-relevant companies don’t rely solely on descriptive analytics or traditional sources of information. They invest in predictive analytics, collaborate with an ecosystem of stakeholders to capture real-time snapshots of every consumer, and mine data in new ways to understand the customer journey that extends beyond core products and services and across channels. In addition, hyper-relevant companies redouble their data security efforts. They ensure customers have full control of their data across touch points. They eliminate duplicate requests for customer information and permissions. And they make sure all customer data is secure and visible to employees on a need-to-know basis.

3. Earn trust continuously

Trust must be a key consideration when designing hyper-relevant experiences, creating new customer value propositions, and serving as a critical resource when customers need them most. A company’s commitment to delivering the experiences that were promised and meeting customers’ expectations is paramount. Hyper-relevant companies understand their baseline level of trust, and eliminate issues or irrelevant offers that detract from the trust quotient. They make trust sustainable by establishing a rigorous process and a robust, cross-functional governance structure to continuously measure trust and hyper-relevant effectiveness—and act on their findings. Most importantly, they manage trust as the critical growth enabler it is.

The virtuous circle

Companies that are attentive to their customers’ concerns and reinforce their trust quotient are more likely to persuade customers to share personal information. That, in turn, helps to inform the design the kinds of hyper-relevant experiences that today’s consumers expect. So, while companies are finding valuable ways to leverage data to super-serve their best customers, they have also begun to realize that the digital trust consumers place in companies is as critical as the data itself.

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