One Size Doesn’t fit all: Personalization Versus Standardization of CX

The rapid pace of technological development in recent years offers a wide range of opportunities for optimizing the Customer Experience (CX). Learn how organizations can develop personalized omnichannel offerings to meet the individual needs and desires of each customer.

Customers react differently to company interaction points, as their behavior and motivation depends on many factors, from age to gender to individual situation. Companies that want to retain their customers with a captivating Customer Journey must internalize this. Typical phenomena among regular customers, such as a decline in customer loyalty over time or a loss of interest, can also be countered with an adapted CX strategy.

Necessary basic understanding

The prerequisite for such an approach is an understanding of the various motivations and behaviors at the individual touchpoints and on the respective channels of the Customer Journey over a longer period of time. Only then will companies be able to react adequately and permanently improve the current CX level.

 

Therefore, organizations are investigating ways of modeling Customer Journeys based on the data and digital evidence customers leave behind. Understanding and creating a holistic overview of the customer engagements along the journey, based on existing data insights, is one of the ongoing design challenges.

 

 

 

 

In most cases, customers switch back and forth between digital and physical channels and different providers, often using several channels simultaneously.

 

Even though the relevance of electronic channels for customer engagement has increased in recent years, the overall Customer Experience also strongly depends on what happens at the physical channels.

 

Therefore, in order to design an engaging and satisfying Customer Experience, an omnichannel approach is vital but also necessary.

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“The overall CX strongly depends on what happens at the physical channels.”

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Data-driven design

For designing intelligent and personalized omnichannel experiences, a data-driven Customer Journey mapping approach is as helpful as it is challenging. It gives companies a 360-degree view of their customers, enabling them to predict the next steps that are useful to the customer and also offer them accordingly.

 

This approach is also known as Customer Journey orchestration. Depending on the available data and applied segmentation practices, three approaches can be distinguished:

 

 

  • General Journey Orchestration: no data is used, the focus is mainly on removing friction points within the Customer Journey.
  • Large Segment Orchestration: Certain data points along the Customer Journey are intended to support the system and make it possible to suggest personalized next steps to the customer.
  • Granular Segment Orchestration: This approach is the most comprehensive. It uses detailed analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to predict the type, timing, and location of a specific interaction with a specific type of customer. This is obviously very powerful and comes with a high level of complexity.

 

 

Which of these approaches an organization chooses to focus on depends on the available budget as well as the willingness to invest in the design of the omnichannel Customer Experience. In general, the design of the chosen solution can be divided into four steps.

 

 

Redesigning Customer Experience in four steps

Understand

Companies must first be aware of their customers’ desires and goals and, on this basis, assess whether the current CX meets these needs. In addition, this phase includes the analysis of existing touchpoints as well as data and data points on the Customer Journey available from the past, which can be used to measure and potentially predict certain future behaviors.

 

 

 

 

This so-called baselining defines the CX maturity level of the organization.

 

It also raises awareness of the different phases of the Customer Journey, such as pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase in retail.

 

The same applies to the knowledge of which touchpoints are necessary, and where.

 

It is useful to draw conclusions about when, how and why certain customers enter or leave the Customer Journey or how much time they spend at certain touchpoints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usually, design teams describe their customers through personas, which include a short description about their goals, frustrations and a summary of the demographics. For certain situations this can be helpful, but in reality people and their behavior are much more complex than age, gender or job description can express.

 

Behavioral archetypes, which describe specific patterns of action and motivation, are much more fluid and flexible depending on context and occasion. Examples include The Explorer, The Socializer, The Doer, and the Creator.

 

They can usually be classified based on the expression of certain characteristics, for example, usefulness – from functional to emotional – or spontaneity – from entrenched to erratic – which is more appropriate and accurate for classification.

Re-Imagine

 

Based on the insights from the previous phase, new ideas emerge for capturing data points along touchpoints and channels. For example, more insights could be gained by redesigning existing experiences and using them to improve the current level of CX.

 

This doesn’t even necessarily require new technologies; a simple process improvement and appropriate definition of measurement points can be enough for a better understanding of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Depending on the overarching goals, companies need to be clear about where customers are dropping off. This is where they need support, system or physical, to enable a more seamless CX across the multiple channels.

 

 

 

 

Implement and perform

 

Based on the targeted maturity level, implementation takes place step by step. In the process, specific measures are introduced, tested, and the impact measured at selected touchpoints. This can include new customer service tools, features in mobile apps, or different feedback channels, but also new approaches to physical customer contact on site.

 

To accompany the implementation, a clear understanding of the various CX measurements such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or Customer Effort Score (CES) is necessary. These provide the company with a good impression of current CX performance and indicate where interventions will be necessary in the near future.

Conclusion

Such ambitious plans with regard to CX require extensive planning and a well-functioning change management.

 

However, one of the biggest challenges in doing so is the lack of real-time customer data. At the same time, customer expectations regarding a seamless end-to-end experience continue to rise. But a bad experience on one of the available channels always carries the risk of dropping out.

 

So it will hardly be enough to focus only on multichannel or only on personalization – in a contemporary CX strategy, content and form must fit one hundred percent.

Discover the rest of our series on Customer Experience:

  • Digital & Tech | Article

    The Next Frontier of Customer Experience

    Companies can gain an edge by developing an overarching CX strategy and management

    Learn More
  • Digital & Tech | Article

    All or Nothing: Designing Holistic Customer Experiences

    The first article of our series dives deep into why using frameworks helps in building a new CX strategy and reducing the complexity of the process

    Learn More
  • Digital & Tech | Article

    Stand out from the Crowd: Defining the Core CX Differentiators

    The second article in our CX series shares how to define the CX differentiators based on strengths and objectives

    Learn More
  • Digital & Tech | Article

    Total CX: Mastering the Complexity of the Customer Journey(s)

    The third article in our CX series gives guidance for developing and implementing complex Customer Journeys

    Learn More
  • Digital & Tech | Article

    Look Outside, Copy with Pride: Leveraging Examples and Best Practices in CX Collection

    Article four of our CX series leverages examples of what works and what doesn’t in CX collection

    Learn More

    About the Authors

    Dr. Iana Kouris

    Associate Director
    Frankfurt, Germany

    Iana is an Associate Director at BCG Platinion in Frankfurt, heading Design & Engineering Team in Berlin. Iana leads projects across industries focused on Customer Experience Strategy, Customer Journey Redesign, Design Thinking enablement and Digital, Agile and Human-Centered Transformations. Iana joined BCG Platinion from Nokia & Nokia Bell Labs, where she was leading Transformation by Design and before that was driving Business Operations & Executive Customer Engagement. Prior to that, Iana spent 7 years in management consulting at McKinsey & Company Inc. Connecting different disciplines was always Iana’s passion, which is reflected in her multidisciplinary studies, including a Dr. degree in Business Administration from RWTH Aachen University, Dipl. in Mathematics, BA in Philosophy & Economics, and further qualifications in Design, Fine Arts and Music.

    Dr. Martin Böckle

    Lead Strategic Designer
    London, United Kingdom

    Martin has a strong focus on designing human-centered digital experiences within the practice areas of BCG Platinion solving strategic design challenges through the application of qualitative and quantitative research. He is a strong advocate for behavioral design concepts like gamification and contributes to the emerging research stream of human-centered artificial intelligence (HCAI). Furthermore, he focuses on other topics such as design due diligence (DDD), design leadership and design strategy for Metaverse applications.

    Robert Thorpe

    Senior Strategic Designer
    Berlin, Germany

    Robert is a Senior Strategic Designer in the Berlin office of BCG Platinion. His core proficiencies include large scale qualitative and quantitative research practices, customer experience journey mapping, technological design flow management, as well as UX/UI best practices and benchmarking.