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Enhancing Customer Experience Beyond Personalization 

Personalization is essential for delivering superior customer experiences. Consumers want companies to understand their needs and preferences and interact with them as individuals, not customer segments. According to McKinsey & Co. research, 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when they don’t.

But the “Personalization” provided today by many software products isn’t sufficient to deliver outstanding experiences. To improve CX, personalization must go beyond using a customer’s name, sharing popular AI-generated content, or placing a customer into a persona or segment. True “personalization” (little “p”) must be at the individual level. The individual is the “person” in personalization. In the new digital world, brands must deliver personalized experiences across all customer touchpoints—ideally as part of a connected journey where the customer goes from email to web to store to app to call center and is treated as a known individual during every interaction.


What Is Personalization?

Personalization should mean tailoring an experience or communication to the interests and needs of individuals. Instead of providing the same information and promotions to every website visitor or email recipient, brands should deliver customized content to audiences based on criteria such as physical location, browsing/download history and/or expressed preferences. For example, an electronics store could send an email to customers who viewed laptops within the past two weeks, and including the specifics of the exact laptop they viewed or even configured online.

Consumers associate personalization with positive experiences that make them feel special. According to the same research mentioned above, people want companies to tailor messaging to their needs (66%), provide relevant product/service recommendations (67%), offer targeted promotions (65%), celebrate their milestones (61%), and follow up post purchase (58%). Consumers expect brands to show a commitment to the relationship—not just the sale. By checking in after the purchase, sending a how-to video or asking customers to write a review, brands demonstrate that relationship focus.

Personalization aims to increase customer engagement, sales, and retention by delivering the most relevant content to each user. Most (78%) consumers said they’re more likely to make repeat purchases from companies that personalize.

However, messaging is often focused on what is most popular, not what the individual wants. If messages aren’t coordinated across channels and implemented at each step of the customer journey, personalization will fall short of delivering the best possible experience and business results.

Related Blog: A Retailer’s Roadmap to the Metaverse


Limitations of Personalization


No consideration of context

Personalization efforts typically focus on a single touchpoint (usually the point of sale) and limited communication channels (usually website and email), not all the possible points along the entire customer journey. People often interact with a company via multiple channels. Someone may view their wireless bill via an email link and then call customer service to resolve a problem. Unable to reach the right agent via interactive voice response (IVR), the person visits the website and engages with a live chat agent. Will all these interactions be coordinated? Without knowing what happened at each step in this process, it is impossible to deliver the right message at the right time. Someone who is in the midst of contesting their bill probably won’t take advantage of a speed upgrade offer (sent because they visited the wireless web page). That person is on a support journey, not a purchase journey.


Risk of over-personalization

Online interactions are tracked and analyzed to create customer profiles, which then place customers into segments that determine the delivery of personalized website content. Website visitors may then start seeing only information that is relevant to that segment. This is over-personalization because the focus is segmentation of popular themes, not appealing to the individual intent. Most people have varied interests that change over time. When people only see homogeneous content, they may become bored or annoyed, and the company misses opportunities to promote other products. If you continue displaying ads for laptops after the person purchased one, you’re no longer sending relevant messages, and you risk annoying or frustrating the customer.


Personalization needs real-time decisioning and journey orchestration

While they provide a degree of personalization, content and campaign management platforms don’t provide intelligent, real-time decisioning.

To ace CX, you need real-time customer data (at the individual level) to be able to analyze current behavior, understand context, predict future behavior and adjust the journey to deliver relevant, meaningful messages at the right time via the right communication channel.

Customer journey management platforms make all that happen by connecting data across channels from different touchpoints—whenever or wherever the customer interacts with your brand—to deliver consistent experiences. An orchestrated experience is, in essence, a series of connected real-time decisions spanning all customer interactions that is both proactive in outreach to customers, but reactive in the way it intelligently responds action.


Content management system approach


      • Identify customers who browsed your online store within the past 30 days
      • Send an email (personalized with the customer’s name)
      • Include a coupon to the online store


Journey management system approach


      • Determine that a person is probably expecting a first child since they recently purchased the book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (i.e., understand the context)
      • Check the customer’s purchase history to ensure a match with past activity (i.e., determine relevance)
      • Send a recommendation and a coupon for a child’s car seat
      • Reinforce that same recommendation when the customer visits the website, or even walks into the store and gets to the point of sale
      • Send a follow-up message via their preferred communication channel (e.g., email or text), either thanking the customer for the purchase and recommending a next product, or reminding them of the special offer (if they didn’t purchase the product)
      • Ask the customer how the car seat is working out (the next time they call customer service looking for help) and then offer them a special deal on the next product

Related eBook: Customer Journey Orchestration for Marketers


A Journey-Centric Approach to Personalization

When using a campaign management system, the brand controls customer interactions by sending emails at a particular cadence (e.g., every two weeks), inviting customers to take one specific action (e.g., click on this link to download a coupon). This predetermined, linear journey mapping will only go so far to satisfy customers and build loyalty. Customers are your business’ lifeblood, and they deserve to be treated as individuals, not just a number in your marketing campaign.

In a journey-centric approach, customers control their engagement and journey with the brand, from acquisition and onboarding to support. There is absolutely still a need for outbound communications to alert customers to new offers or send bills, or updates on the loyalty program. But a journey management platform adds to this and provides the additional layer of sophistication that personalization really demands. A journey management system delivers the right information, on the right channel (inbound or outbound) at the right time—a series of next best actions—and also provides a real-time checkpoint to prevent sending the wrong information.


One Integrated Solution for CX Success

CSG Xponent, our customer experience solution, is purpose-built with a customer data platform, journey orchestration, journey analytics and real-time decisioning at the core of the technology. Xponent delivers the right personalized messages at the right time via each customer’s preferred engagement channel—whether the customer comes to the brand, or vice versa. Xponent integrates with your existing systems—CRM, billing, personalization platforms, marketing systems—with no need to rip and replace. You won’t need to purchase multiple systems to take personalization to the next level and deliver exceptional CX. Instead, CSG Xponent can bring it all together.

Getting started is easier than ever. Contact us.

Mark Smith

SVP, Customer Experience