Since I handle personalization projects at work, I have been reading many articles about 2012 and what will be big. On many of those lists, personalization comes up as a topic and area to watch. What these articles often do leave out is what really personalization is.
Personalization is one of those topics which sounds simple, until you actually get into the details. Is it product recommendations, the ability to customize your viewing experience, is it a service experience that is unique to you, or is it something else entirely? The answer is, it’s all of them. And that’s where it gets complicated. What is personal means something different to everyone. For some, they like products to be recommended, but for others, they want that one-to-one service that is just like having your own personal concierge. So designing a personalization experience can be very complex.
For me, personalization is about delivering a shopping experience that creates the feeling of a personal relationship between the customer and the organization. How that is created, really comes down to understanding your customer. This is where I think many pundits get it wrong. All too often, when I am reading these articles about personalization, they focus on the technology aspects. And people always up hold Amazon as the example. To be quite honest, Amazon’s personalization experience is a bit weak. I’m not saying it is bad but there is a lot of room for improvement and those at Amazon who are honest about it, will agree. And I know they are working on filling in those gaps.
I always start with the consumer in mind first and foremost, not the technology. Find the need or pain point and then work back to the technology. Too often, I see companies who find a technology and try to shoehorn it in to being the solution, when in reality, it is not.
So will personalization be one of the big things for 2012? That depends on the strategy companies take. It is not all about the technology. Technology plays a big part, but it is not the main part or the even the first part to getting it right.