When personalisation is not creepy

Having dinner with some friends recently, the concept of how creepy it was that organisations were data mining and using your personal information came up. I sat quietly eating my fish and chips and my friends continued their rant. So that started me thinking - when is personalised delivery OK and when is it in fact creepy?

As organisations continue to explore the benefit of utilising big data and analytics to provide a more tailored experience for individuals, people are certain to notice. Purchase or browse a product on Amazon, you will begin to see those products and similar products appear next time you go on Amazon. Go to a car website to check out new cars - and sure enough you will begin to instantly see advertisements during your web browsing for new cars. It makes sense - you clearly are looking at something, therefore marketers know that you are a warm lead and want to show you their product and service.

Recently, I renewed my television, Internet and phone (yes, I am a child of the 80's and still use a land line at home) for the next two years. As most people who have done this know, that first bill is a bit like the semester you took physics in high school - you nod your head as if you understand what is going on -but in reality you are hopelessly lost and confused. Personalisation to the rescue! When I logged in to look at my bill, Verizon presented me with an option for my own video.

This was the best boilerplate video I have ever seen. It was personalised - it greeted me in the video with my name. It had my exact numbers of the bill included in the video. It explained when, to the day, that I cancelled my previous billing cycle and when this new cycle begins. It showed me what I should expect for a bill each month going forward - after this crazy first bill. It absolutely prevented me from tying up an agent to explain what happened. Was it creepy? Absolutely not. Was it helpful? Yes it was.

I was not being crosssold or upsold to anything, I was given a service with the video. Too often as bankers we think of personalisation as a way to directly target someone with the next best offer. The right offer at the right time on the right device. I get that, it makes sense, but shouldn't we think of personalisation as a way to also offer customer service as well?

How about if a statement or a service can be explained to someone in their native language online? That will make my friends start to think differently about personalisation being so creepy.

Posted by Marc DeCastro, Research Director - Consumer BankingIDC Financial Insights


Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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