So how far should personalization go? Customization is most effective when it’s behind the scenes. Slapping a brazenly personalized greeting on a site can be unsettling, but when customization is well done, consumers may not even notice it. Instead, they get the feeling that the merchandise is exactly what they were looking for.
The key, according to Kevin Faulkner of RightPoint Software, which creates targeting tools for the Web and call centers, is making relevant offers that will be perceived as services. Identifying them means thinking about customers and businesses in a different way.
“First start with the problem you’re trying to solve,” advises Katros. “For example, maybe a gift catalog isn’t truly in the gift-giving business. It’s in the time-saving business. Gifts can be the first step, just as Amazon started with books and moved on to videos, toys and electronics. There is no reason why a company is only in the gift business and not the time-saving business, which instantly gives them directions in which to grow.”
Faulkner explains the advantages of individualizing offers to your customer:
A) They’re likely to buy more because you’ve recommended products they need.
B) They’re more likely to view your site as helpful because you’ve directed them to what they wanted.
C) They’re more likely to come back again.
“You want the customer to feel that everything is a service,” he says. “Over time, it won’t be price that drives sales, it will be the experience that the customer has with you.”
Martha Rogers of Peppers and Rogers Consulting says that the Web requires a shift from product management to customer management.
Rogers says, “When you concentrate on customer management, you think about how to keep the customer, increase customer share, cross-sell them, increase lifetime customer value. If you define the success of your company in terms of profitability from serving your customer, it gives you a different list of things to do tomorrow.”