How to impersonalize a personalized experience
Recently, I was checking into a very nice resort in a darling little lake town about an hour outside of Chicago. I was impressed by the grounds when I drove in, the resort looked wonderful and I had a pleasant experience at check-in. My first impression was good and I will admit this enjoyment of the experience had set my expectations for the service level at the resort to be rather high.
Unfortunately, that favorable impression did not last very long.
After arriving in my room, I received a text welcoming me to the resort and inquiring if everything was satisfactory. The text could have been a nice touch, but instead, the text started with Mr. Conway. I am assuredly not a Mr. I am very much a Mrs. or even a Ms. Admittedly, my first name, Bryn, is challenging. It is not a common name and for my entire life, people have read my name as Bryan. Hence the Mr. salutation, I suppose.
The mistake is understandable, but an attempt to personalize my experience had the unfortunate effect of making it feel completely impersonal. It really did not help the resort’s cause, that I received two follow-up texts with the same content addressed to Mrs. Conway, then Mr. Conway again. The three-text salutation correction attempt did not make for a good recovery. Instead, it left me wondering, if this is how a welcome text is handled, what in the world is the rest of my stay going to entail? It eroded my confidence in the resort’s competence.
Since the pandemic, customer expectations have increased rapidly and tolerance levels for a poor experience have declined just as quickly. A report published by Talkdesk in May 2021, found that 88% of consumers have higher expectations than they did in the past; 79% are more informed about the overall experience and 85% of customers are likely to share negative reviews. In addition, consumers value and expect personalization. A Forrester survey of customer experience professionals found that 69% of those surveyed believe that the strongest customer relationships are built through a personalized support experience. Here are three things to consider when personalizing your member experience:
- When in doubt, leave it out: My welcome text could have been a good experience if they had just left off the salutation. Simply send me a text welcoming me to the resort, ask if I need anything, and let me know how to get a hold of someone who can help. That would have been a relevant greeting that felt personalized because of the timing after check in. In short, if you can’t guarantee that the personalization is going to be right, leave it out. Doing personalization wrong is worse than not doing it at all.
- Don’t rely solely on the technology: Personalization in experience comes from the ability of a company to apply their data to the technology in their delivery channels. A word of caution, do not rely solely on technology to provide the experience. Establish processes that allow for a quality check on the use of the data with the technology. For example, I am quite certain that my welcome text was automated or done by someone who was not at the front desk. The text alert system was likely triggered with the use of the key to enter the room or is set for several minutes after check-in. If the process was built so that the person who checked me in validated the personalization to either use my first name or a title, the mishap could have been avoided. The entire check-in process is built to verify data anyway. Think about the questions that are asked of you. You are here for two nights, is that correct? A good phone number for you is? Your email address is…, is that correct? Add the personalization validation to the process and then let the technology work for you.
- Every touch point demonstrates your competence or lack thereof: It is just a text, Bryn (or in my case, three!). Get over it! One little misstep but the rest of the experience was great, right? Unfortunately, it was not. The welcome text gaffe set the tone for the entire stay. And it was not just me. Everyone in our group had a story to tell of a missed opportunity, a poor service encounter, or a promise of follow-up that was not kept. Every touchpoint and interaction you have with your members is an opportunity to prove your competence, your relevance, and will decide your member’s overall willingness to trust you. Don’t underestimate the importance of each touchpoint with your members if you want them to remain loyal and engaged.
The decision at the end of our group’s stay was that we’d had a wonderful time despite the experience with the resort and that we’d be doing this again next year. However, we’d most certainly be looking for another place to stay.
Experience matters and so does its personalization. Make sure when you are mapping your member experiences that you build in ways to ensure your personalization is actually personal. The result is that your members will be assured of your competence, will enjoy that you made their experience relevant, and will believe in you as a trusted financial resource.