Customer centricity and AI: personalisation versus trust
In the fiercely competitive business world, companies are increasingly personalising their solutions and services in a bid to stand out from their rivals. By utilising the likes of big data analytics and AI, companies aim to understand more about their customers and tailor the approach in a bid to drive sales and loyalty. But how can businesses do this well without damaging consumer trust?
The benefits of personalisation could be huge, with 93% of companies seeing conversion rates increase due to personalisation, However, consumer trust has been damaged due to well-known breaches and scandals like Cambridge Analytica, leaving people cautious about handing over their data. What’s more, businesses will face hefty fines if they breach new regulations, such as GDPR.
Companies must now take extra-care when collecting customer data, but it actually goes further than that – there must be an element of give and take when it comes to personalisation.
Data - Driving sales and improving the CX?
The majority of companies have explored, and continue to explore, how they can best utilise technology like big data or AI to drive sales. A lot of the use of this technology has revolved around how businesses can better target customers or improve the customer experience. However, it’s not just businesses that are looking towards a more personalised, tailored experience – customers expect it too. In fact, nearly one third of consumers expect companies they engage with to know more about them, and almost half expect specialised treatment for being a 'good customer,'
The key to creating winning personalised experiences going forward, however, will not be how much data can be collected, rather it will be ensuring trust is built with the consumer and the data they do collect is used effectively. In essence, make sure your company’s use of data creates a win-win situation for the business and the consumer.
For example, companies can use the information they have gathered to offer specific products they know a customer could be interested in, as well as tailor-made offers or loyalty bonuses. However, businesses can’t appear to be spamming a customer – just because they purchased a toothbrush once, they won’t want to be seeing offers for toothbrushes every week. Businesses must make offers more targeted, built on a genuine understanding of the customer.
Another way in which businesses can personalise a customers’ experience is by tailoring the content they see on a website. For example, in the B2B world, if you know your customer is a finance director, you can push content towards them which would be more focused for their interests i.e. discussions around the bottom line or cost. This rids the need for the finance director to search around the website for the information they need and allows the company to grab their attention from the moment they visit the website.
Going forward, we will see companies increasingly use a variety of tactics to create a personalised experience to boost sales, but this approach must give something to the customer, whether that’s special discounts, an improved experience, or hand-picked content.
As well as making sure it’s not all ‘take’ from the business side, companies also need to commence a trust building exercise with their customer base.
Savvy customers now want to know what data is being collected, how it’s being used and how it’s being stored. Therefore, companies need to ensure that it is the consumer that draws the line on the information they share, and this line is likely to vary from sector to sector. For example, people are much more likely to give more detailed, personal information to a healthcare provider than a streaming service.
When data has been collected, businesses must also have a protocol in place for the safe handling and storing of data, and the correct procedures need to be explained to every single member of staff. After all, a lot of data abuse stems from internal issues.
The future of personalisation
Companies will have to overcome the hurdle of trust if they are to deliver standout personalised experiences that keep the consumers happy. Going forward, business leaders will have to think carefully about the data they collect, how it's stored and, more importantly from a CX perspective, what the consumer will get in return. Businesses should be putting themselves in the shoes of customers. What information would you be happy sharing and how would you expect a business to use it and store it?
By Derek Lewis, Head of Customer Experience at Maintel
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”