Personalization, relevance, and the customer experience

By: Lisa Sigler

June 9, 2016

Customer Engagement
customer experience
customer experience management
Customer Feedback
Voice of the Customer

“Dear [Customer],”

Anytime I get one of these failed attempts at a “personalized” email, it makes me cringe. But even when the mail-merge works correctly, it doesn’t mean that your company is providing successful personalization.

A personalized customer experience is more than just targeted email campaigns or advertisements. It’s the ability to approach and react to each customer individually throughout the customer journey—and it is one sign of a flourishing customer experience management program.

According to Forrester research, personalization is a critical part of the overall of customer experience. Successful personalization comes from being proactive and intentional. Successful firms “treat personalization as an enabler of better interactions from the customers’ view across their journeys.”

What does a personalized experience look like?

Personalization engages your customers’ attention.
When you are doing it right, personalization earns your customers’ interest because whatever it is—the information on your website, the offer in their inbox, the advertisement they come across while browsing—feels relevant to their lives.

Maybe that means that your employees are given the information to customize offers, to anticipate needs, or to offer solutions on the spot when problems arise. Or when a customer calls you, their account history is readily available to your customer care agents who then understand the whole story. At every possible touchpoint, you use the data you have to tailor the experience as much as possible to the individual customer.

One Clarabridge customer, a hotel chain, made sure to put an extra table in the room of a guest who had previously complained about lack of counter space. The customer realized that this small touch was a personal detail that enhanced her specific experience.

Personalization encourages feedback.
Because personalization helps to build a sense of relationship between the organization and the customer, it inspires more feedback. In addition, smart companies use data to personalize the survey experience in order to encourage even more useful feedback.

For example, one major airline uses data to start surveys with the problems they already know about. When the survey begins, “We’re sorry you missed your connection. How did we do when trying to fix that for you?” the customer knows that this is more than just a standard form to fill out, and is more likely to give the airline detailed, actionable feedback.

Personalization feels invisible.
When things go right, personalization fades into the background. Your customers love what you provide for them; they don’t consciously notice that everything you provide is relevant.  In an article discussing the gap between the personalization that consumers want and retail’s ability to provide it, author Greg Sterling expressed it this way: “In many ways, “relevance” and “personalization” are converging in the minds of many consumers.” It’s not about having a customer’s name on something; it’s about making the customer experience simpler by only providing options that have to do with their lives.

Personalization is a way to make sure customers know they matter. By giving them relevant, helpful experiences that fit their needs, you inspire their loyalty. By intentionally designing experiences to be always relevant and only relevant, you show that you understand them and care what they want.

Ready for more? Learn how three CX leaders personalize the customer experience.


Lisa Sigler is Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Clarabridge. For over 16 years, Lisa has used her writing and editorial skills to bring the value and benefits of technology to life. In her current role, she works to demonstrate Clarabridge’s position as thought leader and trailblazer in the Customer Experience Management market. Lisa holds a B.A. of English from Kent State University. Read more from Lisa on Twitter @siglerLis.