Personalisation: Past, Present and Future

The art of personalisation
The Retail Hive: Members Morning, 18th January
Discussion opened by Gianfranco Cuzziol, Former Avon International CRM and Personalisation Lead, Natura & Co

A key theme at our inaugural CX Exchange was the latest advancements in AI and machine learning, and how AI is driving personalised customer communications that can yield a much more loyal and engaged customer base. So, we invited a select group of senior retailers to a bespoke breakfast meeting to explore this topic further. The discussion was opened by Gianfranco Cuzziol, Former Avon International CRM and Personalisation Lead, Natura & Co, who shared his experience and useful tips for retailers who are building their personalisation roadmap.

This dynamic discussion was followed by an exclusive introduction and entry to The Credit Suisse: Frans Hals exhibition, led by Laura Uccello, Senior Manager – Corporate Partnerships at The National Gallery.

Painting 400 years ago, Hals was the first Master of the Dutch Golden Age of painting and played an incredibly important role in the evolution of portraiture as a genre. Hal’s portraits include depictions of merchants living and working in the region at that time.

Hals’s subjects are often portrayed in relaxed poses and situations, engaging with those around them instead of gazing directly at the viewer. His subject’s uniquely characterful and clearly differentiated faces still breathe with life, four hundred years on. Likewise, modern retailers endeavour to place the individual at the heart of their offering.

The Perfect Balance

It can be difficult for brands to tailor customer communications when multiple channels are at play. We know that customers who are active across each and every channel are like gold dust, but what level of personalisation is needed to keep them engaged, and does this vary from one channel to another?

The group agreed that customers want to be interacted with differently at specific points throughout the year—be that summer, winter, Valentine’s Day, or their birthday. Therefore, thinking carefully about the messaging and services customers want to receive at a given time is vital. Examples range from highlighting next-day delivery at Christmas to aiding customers with selecting the right gift for a loved one, especially if the customer themselves does not know the product well.

Whilst there are plenty of personalisation tools at brands’ disposal, knowing which one to choose can be particularly challenging for brands with several customer touchpoints. Moreover, retailers want to greet customers with relevant content—based on individual interests and behaviours—but by putting customers into specific categories, opportunities for browsing discovery and cross-selling can diminish. Brands are keen to strike the perfect balance here.

Customer Intention and Storytelling

Encouraging customers to feel confident enough to self-serve will help to give a true representation of customer intention. An example from the group was using AI to highlight key product information by hovering customised facets above products on the listing page. This helps customers to find exactly what they’re looking for, thereby reducing the overall number of returns.

The group also emphasised the importance of storytelling and how brands can use this to guide customers through different journeys. Integrating AI can then make these stories even more personalised. As suggested by members at our CX Exchange, the ‘dream screen’ is a genuinely personalised experience for all customers, where when a chatbot session closes, that information is captured across all channels for the next customer interaction.

Blending Physical and Digital Experiences

For many brands, stores still provide the most experiential moments for customers. It can be difficult to replicate these physical experiences online, but clienteling tools can give store consultants access to a wealth of customer data to offer much more tailored services and create seamless, phygital experiences.

A key leadership strategy is to educate in-store and eCommerce teams, so they understand how closely related their roles are and that the best results often come from internal collaboration. For example, in-store staff can help customers to find online products that are not currently available in the shop.

We heard time and time again at our CX Exchange just how important it is to be transparent with customers, clearly signposting when chatbots are being used. While some fear that AI will take jobs, the answer is to ensure that human tasks are being moved up the value chain. Additionally, humans need to monitor chatbots to ensure they are meeting customer needs, making them feel valued and boosting loyalty.

Above all, brands need to be selective, remembering that personalisation should only be implemented if it has a clear strategy and intended result behind it.

Discover More…

We’ll be diving into all things AI, machine learning and personalisation at our upcoming meetings. Register your interest via the buttons below to secure your spot and make your voice heard.

Our Digital Luxury Exchange Roundup has been created for our members and partners to revisit their favourite conversational points onsite, and for those who couldn’t make it to get a feel of everything that was discussed.

Featuring key takeaways from our roundtables and masterclasses, storyteller insights, exclusive member interviews, and more! Take a look ahead of this year’s Luxury Exchange…