Today's customers expect timely and accurate personalized experiences. However, most organizations are still unable to deliver them. Despite significant technology investments and the availability of more data sources than ever, companies are still falling short of their own objectives and the promises they're making to customers.
"Today it's about one size fits many. Organizations overlook very important behavioral differences and differences in need states -- what people might want at that particular point in time. The ability to collect and mine the right data is the biggest challenge now," said Khalid Khan, head of analytics at global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.
Personalization isn't the sole responsibility of marketing, although it still often treated that way. Customers can tell the difference between a truly customer-centric company and a company that only claims to care about its customers.
"The most important thing firms can do right now is to reinvent themselves from the outside in to win, serve, and retain customers by connecting all the digital experiences across the customer lifecycle -- marketing, sales, procurement, using a product and servicing a product," said Brian Hopkins, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research.
One reason marketing messages and offers are still so off-base is because companies are doing quasi-personalization rather than actual personalization. They're using a group approach to marketing that targets individuals, but it inherently includes some false assumptions. Demographics help, personas help, and the combination of the two is better than either alone. Nevertheless, more companies are embracing sophisticated analytics and data science to improve the accuracy of their efforts even more.
"Customers expect you to know who they are regardless of how they've come into contact with you whether it's technical support, walking into your store, or visiting your website," said Brad Shimmin, service director, business technology and software at market intelligence firm Current Analysis. "The context and history of interactions need to be considered to understand who that person is."
Sadly, most marketing departments don't have the information they need to accurately personalize offers to customers and prospects. Most of them also lack a holistic omnichannel view of their campaigns and customers despite significant efforts and investments. Meanwhile, their organizations may be unable to provide the data access and integration necessary to deliver personalized customer experiences across touch points. More importantly, many organizations have still not developed a culture that places the customer at the center of their corporate strategy.
Here's more insight into why personalization is still falling short.