I go to the same Peets for tea every morning in San Francisco when I’m not traveling, and much of the time they ask me my name for the cup. Recently two baristas have begun to recognize me: They don’t ask me my name, but when my cup arrives it says “Cory.” It’s a simple thing, but it makes me feel welcome, and I reward that service by returning regularly.
Recently I walked into a different coffee shop, which caught me off-guard in a similar fashion. I have never been to this location, but I did purchase with a credit card. When I went to the end of the bar to pick up my drink, the barista said, “Here you go, Cory.” They’d never asked for my name, but simply read it from my credit card and added it to my order.
These subtle elements of customer service go a long way toward creating a more personalized engagement.
Marketers don’t need to personalize the Web site experience by posting your name and welcoming you to their destination -- but simply recognizing whether you’re a customer and rewarding you for your patronage is a good start. Simply onboarding your customer file, matching it to cookies or mobile IDs, and recognizing you when you arrive, can go a long way to increase the likelihood of your becoming a more valuable customer.
It’s not an invasion of privacy to connect my name from my credit card to my order. It would be an invasion of privacy if, when I picked up my tea, the barista asked how my wife and two kids were doing by name, and whether Mason had done well in baseball last week. That would be too much too fast, as they say. Online marketers can demonstrate the same amount of restraint balanced with personalization and be just as effective, if not more so.
But let’s be honest about the state of online personalization: It’s not that well-done. Many brands have figured out how to personalize the basic experience with their customers when they’re logged into a Web site or app, but the technology exists to personalize the experience with a much broader portion of the audience.
Personalization requires you to identify a consumer and minimally sort them into one of three buckets; current customer, prospective customer or exclusion (also, as I refer to them, the “never going to be a customer”).
On that first pass, you don’t really have to go much deeper than to create a personalized experience. You shouldn’t go much further until you have implied permission to do so. If you recognize I am a customer and treat me well, I reward your effort. If I’ve been a customer for years and you still treat me as though you never knew me, it sucks.
The tools exist for personalization to become a whole lot better, such as recognizing me on your site, or in your app across any mobile device, and identifying what stage of the customer journey I might be in already. It’s worth the effort. Don’t you agree?