Some customers will not want to give you information even though they realize they will be giving up some potential benefits. As Bruce Kasanoff says in his book, Making It Personal: How to Profit from Personalization Without Invading Privacy (Perseus Books, 2001), “Some people are simply private, and prefer to mind their own business and let you mind yours. Others recognize the growing infringements on private space and choose to take the cautious route.”
So the need to balance privacy with personalization is still a concern. As another writer said, just because technology allows you to know your customers right down to their vacation destinations, their reading habits, their prescription drugs, and the roots of their hair doesn’t mean you should know all these things. If you visit the Levi website and use the Style Finder, the questions you are asked include items such as your preferred type of music and the kind of movies you like to watch. As one scribe comments, “The best technology is not the most advanced technology but the one that best solves your marketing problems. If you want to help your website visitors find styles, then simply ask them what styles they like.”[18 ]
It is worth giving a lot of attention to what information is captured, how it is gathered, how customers can access and control the information, and how your company can safeguard it from others that might want it but shouldn’t have it. Personalization is critical to CMR, but more isn’t always better. Before capturing or using personal information it’s always wise to ask the question, “Will our use of this information make our customer’s life easier?”
If you decide to pursue a personalization strategy, consider these ten commandments of personalization from Susan Cohen, columnist for SAS Com Magazine.
Personalize for customer reasons: You should personalize if it will make your company’s products and services more convenient for your customers.
It’s not about technology: Technology isn’t the place to start—nor is it the most important success factor in personalization efforts.
It’s a corporate culture shift: Are customers at the core of your culture or is your company organized around products and services? Personalization is not an add-on. To succeed, it must be a fundamental element of every aspect of your business.
Preparation is hard—and critical: Understand your customers, refine your business process, and prepare your employees.
Analyze before you personalize: You need to understand your customers before you initiate a personalization strategy.
It’s about people: Personalization is all about people. To be truly personal, you need to use personal language with a personal voice. Remember to treat your customers like individual people during every customer interaction.
Enough is enough: Find what level is right for your customers and your company. More isn’t always better.
Privacy is paramount: No matter what your personalization strategy, do not compromise customer privacy and security.
Customer data is cash: You should treat your data about customers as if they were money. Each time you analyze your customer data you create value for your company.
Measure success: There are many ways to measure: improved return on marketing campaigns; increased overall revenues and profits; increased lifetime value of customers; increases in the number of multiproduct sales; and increased loyalty, which can be measured by an increase in the duration or frequency of customer interactions.
Scott Martin was right, the benefits of personalization and customization can be extraordinary if your strategy allows the customer to gain control.
[18 ] “Back to Levy Story,” webcmo.com, January 26, 2002, p. 6.
Susan Cohen, “Plan Before Personalizing,” sas.com News and Events, January 26, 2002, pp. 1–3.