As customer expectation change, can Big Data help you keep your customers happy? A new technique known as hyper-personalization says it can.

Time to hyper-personalize- Build Loyal Customer Relationships.

Imagine this: During your lunch break, you’re scrolling through your favorite music app. You’re looking for great tunes to power you through an upcoming avalanche of expense reports. As you search, a box pops up, recommending the latest boy band hit.

Your jam is alt-punk. Are you going to click the buy button?

If only your app had been paying attention, it might have suggested something more relevant. And, knowing that an afternoon’s slog is ahead of you, you might have purchased the album.

If only your app had been hyper-personalized.

What is Hyper-Personalization?

Hyper-personalization is pretty much what just like it sounds: it uses collected data to make informed choices about specific interaction with individual customers. Getting this data is usually not a problem: browsing histories, past purchases and social media make people’s preferences mighty clear. To go back to our music app, it’s clear that if the company had considered your buying history or even your browsing history, their chances of making a sale would have gone up tremendously.

Sales are one reason that hyper-personalization is important, but it’s not the only reason. There’s a tradeoff that most people are making — their information for better services. When downloading music of their choice, people don’t mind sharing some personal information. It’s like putting the information to good use.  As our post on marketing to Millennials points out, personalization isn’t a special plus; it’s the way things are. Hyper-personalization is simply the next step to meeting your customer’s expectations. It’s about engagement, and that builds loyalty.

How Different Industries Can Hyper-Personalize

Some industries are already getting into hyper-personalization. A good example of doing it right is Starbucks. With the Starbuck mobile app, customers get to have that ‘I’m-so-special’ feeling of skipping the line — they can order using the app and simply pick up their beverage. Starbucks’ loyalty system is also an excellent example of harvesting individual likes and dislikes and coming up with personalized offers.

Although they might seem tradition-bound, banks are also getting into hyper-personalized offerings. Nitin Chugh, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Digital Banking at HDFC Bank, shares some insights on how banks can make highly personalized offers in this ETCIO article. In brief, banks can do what other companies do: pay attention to their customers, and tailor company actions accordingly. (Read the article for details; they’re quite interesting.)

Other industries can see the potential of hyper-personalization, even if the actual implementation is in the future. Brick-and-mortar retailers are one example; while their loyalty programs are working on making personalized suggestions and offers via apps, the in-store experience can definitely become more engaging.

But perhaps travel is the place where hyper-personalization gets the most exciting. After all, this is something that a lot of people are passionate about. Right now, specialized keycards and remote check-ins (skip the front desk!) are the frontrunners of travel hyper-personalization. But imagine travel as Skyscanner2024 presents it: travel choices informed by personalized recommendations, location-based awareness, and crowd sourced information. And it’s all brought to the consumer by way of technology. (Again, it’s well worth following the link for details. They’ve done an excellent presentation.)

These developments raise another question: How can your company start incorporating hyper-personalization?

Using Big Data to Get Personal

Clearly, Big Data plays a huge role in hyper-personalization. Even companies without terabytes of data can leverage big data techniques required for the variety of data types. It’s more than just rows and columns of numbers to crunch. It’s sentiment. Conversations. Behaviors. Content. Sometimes even images. Hyper-personalization isn’t a one-and-done thing; it requires time to grow, and it all starts with paying attention to your customers.

Of course, it’s easy enough to say ‘collect personal data’ and leave it at that. After all, collecting data based on order histories and the like has been happening for years. But with the advent of social media, the definition of data collecting changed. It’s no longer about broad outlines and hazy preferences; it’s about the details. And those details are often found on social media.

One of the fastest ways to leverage personalization is to focus on personalized data collection on social media. In particular, it needs to be on social media listening. This is something we’ve already discussed on the Absolutdata blog, but it bears repeating: you can’t afford to ignore the information your customers are giving you on social media.

If you want to build a loyal customer base, you have to meet their needs and surpass their expectations. And if you want to know what those needs and expectations are, you have to listen for them. You could settle for a close-enough offer or a good-enough level of engagement. Or you could use hyper-personalization to present the best offer and the highest level of engagement. The choice is yours, but we predict that customers will expect hyper-personalization for a long time to come.

Authored by Titir Pal, Director – Analytics at Absolutdata