The Power of Personalization: Exploring How Banks and Brands are Personalizing their Offerings for the Consumers

Personalization involves offering customers services tailored to their needs and wants to provide the customers a sense of comfort, familiarity and, most importantly, value.
January 10, 2024

The correlation between tailored-experiences and customer satisfaction is undeniable. Be it at the barbershop or on a shopping website, people appreciate , and expect, some level of personal touch to the experiences. It gives them a sense of validation and makes them feel valued as customers contributing to the transactional relationship they undertake. And that is where lies the true power of personalization. 

What personalization entails? 

Personalization involves offering customers services tailored to their needs and wants. It is a customer-centric approach that seeks to provide the customers a sense of comfort, familiarity and most importantly, as already discussed, the feeling of being valued. Personalization shows that for a business the customer is not just another number. It is an attempt to connect with the customers at a level which will keep them coming back for more and turn them into advocates of the service/product among their peers. 

Enabling customers with the power of data 

The biggest contributing factor in delivering personalization to customers in the present times has been the availability of data. Every person who has accessed the internet at any point of their lives has left a trace behind online which can enable personalization. That said, if personalization is a requirement for the larger section of the masses then it would be equally important to rise above the general paranoia over privacy invasion. Privacy and personalization are assumed to be polar opposites for many but that is seldom the case. But more about that in the later sections. 

Now coming back to how personalization is enabled at the colossal scale that data is obtained. For every online interaction on any platform, the intent of the interaction is categorized. Businesses will seek to collect information from the customer and if the customer consents, use this information, referred as data, to match with any relevant offers/services/products that might provide value to them.

Most of the time it has recommendation engines in place powered by machine learning, these days, a step further with artificial intelligence. But because the data these businesses are in possession with are massive, they have to cohortize the audience, based on multiple parameters which they consider defines the customer truthfully. 

Imagine a customer is looking at cars on a website people use to view vehicle specifications and prices. The website will ask to collect certain information about this customer and once the customer gives consent, suppose it now has the age, employment type and price range of the cars the customer wants. At this point of time, the website might start showing relevant loans and offers which can help the customer to make a decision to buy or not buy. The customer eventually decides to buy knowing that their bank has a special low-interest loan and a reduced down payment. The customer now spends less than before because the website saved both time and money for them. That is a very basic example to understand what personalization is and how it is enabled. 

Defining the need for personalization 

As opposed to the spray and pray method of marketing where the primary idea is ‘one-size-fits-all’, personalization is all about targeting sections/cohorts that best fits the description of the target audience. But the true power of personalization lies when the customer data is reduced to the last unit, pinpointing the exact intent and need of the customer, followed by delivery of the service/product/offer. All businesses are eventually racing towards that level of personalization leveraging the latest technologies to interpret data, mining opportunities and serving the customers whatever they want, whenever they want and however they want it. 

Personalization demands all businesses to be open about the limitless opportunity that big data provides. That attributes a certain degree of responsibility on the businesses to embrace the technological revolution and update their approaches to keep the customer at the center of everything they do. Not being able to do so is bound to introduce gaps in customer service negatively impacting every aspect of the business. The demand for personalization is nothing new and will clearly exist forever. If anything, as customers become more experience-savvy, this demand will go up. A study by Accenture states that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them. 

The interesting aspect of personalization is that it does not end in just showing relevant advertisements, items but spans across the customer journey. Because the intention is to keep the customer within the same comfort zone throughout the process and beyond.

This evolution has always been in the making and some experts date it back to the 18th century to a hat maker duo in London. But some researchers confine the birth of personalization to the period spanning from 1920 to 1980 when the term ‘relationship marketing’ was coined by marketing professor Leonard Berry at Texas A&M University. The recent buzz around personalization is directly related to the growing access to consumer data and actual implementation of the fundamentals of personalization for customers. 

While businesses look at opening up channels to market their products or services by means of effective communication, personalization demands something deeper. It thrives when the consumer engages in a conversation with the business, either directly or indirectly, leaving the space for a two-way communication, rather than businesses defining what the consumer might want. The Accenture study also claims that consumers want experiences which enable them to carve their own paths to be in control of tailoring their own journey. 

The question of ethics in a world of personalization 

The flipside of mass accumulation of data for marketing to facilitate personalization is the rising concern for privacy of internet users. Primary concerns involve lack of transparency, misuse of personal information and loss of autonomy. Businesses must do everything in their capacity to address these concerns. 

Consumers must be made aware of the extent their data will be used for marketing purposes and should always be clearly stated what their consent for data collection can lead to. In terms of data security, measures should be taken to safekeep all information which a consumer might have shared in confidence. Breach of data and failure to protect data negatively impacts consumers’ trust over the business. 

Among the three, loss of autonomy is a unique problem. Zhang and Sundar in their study, ‘Proactive vs. Reactive Personalization: Can Customization of Privacy Enhance User Experience?’ discusses how the only way to circumvent the privacy concern in personalized marketing is to provide the consumers with more control, in other words autonomy, over the whole process. This ties in perfectly with our earlier observation about two-way communication between the consumer and the business rather than the business deciding things for the consumer. Zhang and Sundar terms this as reactive personalization. 

The Accenture study claims that 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to enable a personalized experience. But in return, they would want transparency about how they collect and intend to use the information. There is a fine line separating personalization from being creepy or cool and it is up to the businesses to decide which side they wish to belong to keep their customers satisfied.

How Cheggout delivers an unrivaled personalization experience? 

Cheggout helps banks capitalize their reach by facilitating brand promotions within banking channels. This complements banks’ push for digital adoption and brands’ requirement for a space to reach a captive audience. Personalization is one of the powerful tools that Cheggout equips the banks and brands with. It enables them to reach out to the right consumers at the right time with the perfect offerings. Personalization at such levels empower the consumer to make informed choices, save time, reduce cost, feel valued and boost their loyalty towards both the brand and the bank. 

Cheggout delves in the region where privacy is upheld, transparency is maintained and personalization is delivered for solely one purpose: customer satisfaction. Perhaps that is the personalization sweet spot, a well balanced world where the customer is at the center and in full control over the experience they want and the way they want it.