Personalization at global scale

by Teakaau Piho

It’s a conundrum that faces every global brand. We live in the age of the enlightened buyer — he or she calls the shots. Consumers want products and services tailored to their specific preferences, and expect to be delighted by every brand experience. Global brands must respond to remain relevant, but they also must ensure a consistent brand experience no matter where the customer is located.

From Dulles, Virginia, to New Delhi, India, the customer experience must simultaneously hold true to the brand promise, be localized to the respective culture and also be personalized to the individual. The only way this is possible at scale is through intelligent automation and analytics — efficient collection of data that is distilled and the resulting insights delivered in real time at the exact moment of the customer interaction.

At its core, this is a big data challenge, driven forward by the internet of things (IoT), which itself has already rapidly evolved into the internet of everything (IoE). More and more information is created every day, with consumers carrying with them more tools and sensors constantly capturing their habits and preferences. It’s a simple equation to express, but not necessarily to solve. Huge volumes of data need to be combined with powerful and intelligent automation to yield levels of personalized service that would have been impossible just a few years ago.

Think about the last time you traveled. When you called or messaged to book a hotel room, wouldn’t you expect that the company could see your history with it and discern your preferences? Then, combining that with local points of interest and events coinciding with your stay, shouldn’t the company have provided a suggested itinerary before you even asked for it?

Or perhaps you’re a healthy traveler, and the hotel immediately offers you workout gear to use (so you don’t have to pack any) and healthy snacks in your room minibar. This is what a superior brand experience looks and feels like, powered by intelligent automation.

Local norms and cultural issues can be addressed in the same way. For example, my company works with a household-name communications provider, supporting customer sales in an outsourced model. When interacting with customers from certain southern states in the United States, our agents are reminded to speak in a more traditionally polite fashion — using “sir” and “ma’am” — than is typical for other areas of the country.

As that example shows, automating for localization and personalization doesn’t mean replacing humans. In many cases, the human is the delivery agent to the customer. The concierge hands you your personalized event list unprompted, or the agent at check-in knows that you always like the room with the window view of sunset, not sunrise. Automation is about putting real-time insight into the hands of staff, exactly when they need it.

There is also a growing hybrid model of human and bot. Another leading hospitality company uses this approach for its interactive voice response (IVR) booking lines. Done poorly, IVR can alienate and frustrate customers. This particular company integrates IVR with live agents, who take over the experience once key information is automatically captured and use a detailed customer profile to ensure a high-quality brand interaction for the customer.

The speed at which data continues to grow makes this kind of outsourcing very attractive for global brands. This digital tsunami will only continue to accelerate. Innovations such as enhanced artificial intelligence (AI)-powered automation and VR are not just around the corner but increasingly mainstream. Whether the challenge is capturing and collating information more efficiently or adding AI into the mix to drive smarter demographic or psychographic recommendations, it makes sense to work with a proven IT leader.

Today the customer has many choices if global brands don’t deliver a personalized experience. Intelligent automation is the only way to do this at scale. The ability to collect customer information — then analyze and disseminate it efficiently, effortlessly, effectively and precisely when required — is the only road to continued success in today’s marketplace.

Teakaau Piho is the global leader of DXC’s Customer Experience (CX) Services. Teakaau is responsible for developing new products and services that bridge traditional analogue services with digital channels, creating new delivery models that drive growth and accelerate transition to the cloud.




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