Leveling up on the personalization maturity curve

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In my last post I laid out the different stages of the personalization maturity curve. In this blog I will examine what your organization needs to do to level up to deliver the personalized customer experiences consumers expect. 

Start with strong sponsorship from a business unit – not technology driven

The first step is to gain support for the initiative from one of your business units, and for them to act as the main sponsor and driver. Embedding personalization in your customer journey and experiences is not about the technology. It’s about focusing on enhancing customer engagement to increase revenue and loyalty while reducing operating costs. Of course, IT, customer experience, enterprise architecture, compliance and security teams are all key stakeholders and must be included when embarking on ‘personalization’ initiatives. However, a business unit, such Cards, Personal Loans, Mortgage Lending, Wealth, Insurance, etc. should take the lead by building a business case for expected ROI, and how to measure success.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Use a walk – jog – run mindset

In my previous blog, I discussed the stages of personalization and how different elements must come together.

Organizations that succeed on this path are the ones that not only see the big picture but also adopt a practical road map, achieving personalization maturity stages in discreet, measurable and visible steps.

Don’t try to launch on day one personalization across all customer interaction channels like mobile, web, chatbot, call center, ATM, for all your products and services. That is a great goal to have but start small, say with one channel like Mobile Banking and focus on a limited number of use cases, say Card activation and usage. The business unit must prioritize areas of focus that will later guide the technology, data and infrastructure requirements and deployment, and not the other way around.

Create and empower a cross-functional execution team

Once the initial focus of the personalization initiative or project is determined, senior executives must create the right team. Senior executive buy-in and alignment is necessary to not only ensure success of an initial pilot project ‘walk’ but also to guarantee the sustainability of the transformation ‘marathon’. Generally, the team will include business, user journey experts, digital engagement experts, IT/technology development, data/infrastructure, and compliance/legal staff. Governance rules and strong agile project management will be key to ensuring a successful pilot launch.

Determine technology and data infrastructure changes in increments but with long term vision in mind

Once the project team has prioritized which initial user journeys will be personalized then the conversation will likely split into 3 main streams.

1. User experience design

2. Data requirements and enablement

3. Technology tools.

In designing, selecting, and evaluating options, it is important to maintain focus on the needs for the initial project while looking for answers that can support future stages of achieving personalization maturity. Demonstrating progress is far more valuable than driving for perfection which is never achievable because customer requirements and technological capabilities constantly change.

I have observed that banks which focus on progress achieve more and faster. I believe that leapfrogging from Stage 1 to Stage 5 is far riskier to achieve and costly. Moving stage by stage – a marathon approach – provides faster tangible results and helps with organizational focus, cultural, and technical learnings, thus creating a stronger foundation for building on the personalization stack (people, technology, channels, user journeys.)

Deploy, Measure, Refine, Repeat

Plan and communicate your deployment with all appropriate stakeholders. Depending on the personalized user journeys that you are launching, you may need to communicate the changes not only to customers, but your call center, branch staff, marketing etc. Clearly communicate what the change is about, why you are doing it, and how front-line staff may be impacted. The messaging from your internal communications team needs to be tight.

Make sure you measure the results and define success during your design phase. It would be counterproductive to implement a change without being able to track and report the impact. For example, if you launch a personalized journey expecting to increase spend, make sure you have a before and after snapshot of the target segment and spend profile. Having a control group is critical to clearly identifying impact. Don’t underestimate what it takes to achieve accurate and meaningful measurement of impact, as it may not be a simple task, and will require some data capture and analysis.

Learn from the measurements, compare results with intended goals and refine the user journeys to better align with goals. For the initial launch of any project, it is important to demonstrate success that exceeds expectations and delivers the momentum needed to justify the next stage of investment. Your organization will be well on its way in offering the relevant, personalized customer experiences that consumers have come to expect in today’s digital-first world.

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