Hyper Relevance: Personalization’s Next Stage

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Business leaders know that the experiences their companies deliver must evolve with customer expectations, and so they need to begin practicing hyper-relevance—the next evolution of personalization, according to a report from Accenture Strategy. 

In fact, 73 percent of CEOs acknowledge the need for products, services, and experiences that are more meaningful to their customers, the research found, but current personalization efforts tend to focus more on customers’ purchasing behaviors and preferences or relatively fixed attributes, such as their addresses. Hyper-relevant experiences, in contrast, focus on understanding customers’ needs in a given circumstance and the evolving context in which they make their purchase decisions. 

Technologies such as predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, delivered via tools such as digital assistants, are all contributing to this shift to hyper-relevance and making it possible for companies to achieve new levels of insight, the report asserts. 

Additionally, digital advances can deliver new services and touch points that respond and evolve in real time to customers’ changing circumstances, the report says.

Hyper-relevance is “becoming more proactive; it’s becoming deeper and richer in the insights and the offers,” says Kevin Quiring, managing director at Accenture Strategy. “[It is] another generation of evolution beyond the kind of personalization we experience today.”

Companies need to do two things to deliver hyper-relevant services and experiences at speed and scale, according to the report. First, they need to gather more personal data; traditional data gathered from website visits, social media posts, or previous purchasing histories is no longer sufficient. Instead, they should go after more personal information, such as real-time health data transmitted via wearable biometric devices. 

Customers apparently are no longer surprised by companies having this level of interest in their lives, with two-thirds of consumers willing to share personal information with companies, according to Accenture’s research. However, the firm also found that customers will only release such information in exchange for some perceived value, and if that value exchange, or the trust upon which it is based, is broken, customers will leave.

Trust is a central element in all customer relationships today, but it is delicate and needs to be built up over a series of interactions; at the same time, it can be broken in a matter of seconds, the report found. For this reason, companies need to constantly reassert their trustworthiness, keep their promises, and uphold their end of the value exchange agreement. 

Furthermore, the report says that leading companies are taking preventative measures by updating their data privacy and security practices, while regulatory agencies and governments worldwide are making moves to ensure that companies adhere to proper safeguards.

But for most companies, “very little has been done to garner the trust, to build the trust, to make consumers feel like their data is being safeguarded” or properly used, Quiring says. “If I’m providing a lot of personal insight or you’re able to generate personal insight but you’re not able to apply it to make your offerings more relevant to me, I’m going to begin to be frustrated.”

And it has to extend across all channels. “If you demonstrate lack of insight in one channel, even though you’ve demonstrated deep insight in another channel, that’s exceedingly frustrating,” Quiring continues. “Ultimately, at the highest order, it really is about the effective use of that insight to drive hyper-relevance.”

The report goes on to stress that companies need to look beyond the traditional customer journey, identifying and prioritizing areas where hyper-relevance can deliver added value and quickly address the unexpected. The report cites Tesla as an example of this: As Hurricane Irma approached South Florida in September, a Tesla owner from an evacuation zone contacted the company and expressed concern that the 200-mile range of his Tesla battery might not be enough for him to reach safety. Tesla responded by granting him and other Tesla owners in the area temporary access to more battery power, giving them an additional 30 to 40 miles of driving range. 

Then companies have to rethink data. Hyper-relevant companies don’t rely solely on descriptive analytics or traditional sources of information, according to the report; they use predictive analytics and collaborate with an ecosystem of stakeholders to capture real-time snapshots of their customers and mine data in new ways to understand customer journeys that extend across channels and beyond core products and services. 

The report asserts that companies must be committed to delivering the experiences that they promise and meeting customers’ expectations. Hyper-relevant companies have a clear understanding of their baseline level of trust and work to eliminate issues or irrelevant offers that detract from their overall trust quotient. Furthermore, they recognize and manage trust as a critical growth enabler.

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