Establishing a personal connection to your customers in a world of remote work is becoming more important than ever. For some businesses, getting personal means cutting out the tech — but this couldn’t be further from the truth for Phil Lockhart.
Lockhart, the Chief Digital Officer at Credera, is a global, boutique consulting company. His work with data has taught Lockhart just how important it can play in personalization. I spoke with Lockhart recently to find out more about how businesses can use their data to build stronger customer relationships.
Serenity Gibbons: Why is personalization becoming more important for businesses and what has caused it?
Phil Lockhart: It’s a matter of attention: eyeballs have shifted from public billboards to private digital devices. It is now easier and cheaper to target people through digital channels. The average person sees thousands of ads every day, but only a handful of them are registered. Personalization helps a company’s ads connect with the individual and stand out from the rest. In many ways, it’s already become an expectation of customers.
Gibbons: How can a company’s data be the driving force behind personalization?
Lockhart: Historical and real-time data can provide context to a customer’s journey, ensuring that you not only engage with the customer but provide a meaningful outcome for their specific needs at this very moment. To signal a specific need, behavioral interactions can be mapped to specific website content or targeted social advertising with personalized messaging.
The customer’s past purchases and recent viewed items can be used to shape the personalized messaging and recommendations they receive. Great companies realize the journey doesn’t stop there—capturing ongoing engagement allows a company not just to create a purchase moment but build a relationship that drives long term loyalty and advocacy.
Gibbons: How important are customers’ trusts in data collection? How can businesses trust customers while still collecting data?
Lockhart: Customer trust is absolutely crucial — nobody would willingly give up their personal data to a company they don’t think will utilize it ethically — which is why businesses need to be prepared to respond to customer demands. One of the most challenging areas in the space is the growing backlash against tracking cookie. Customers are becoming more reticent about tracking cookies, and big companies like Google and Apple are trying to reduce their effectiveness and eliminate them completely. The key is to be open about the data you’re collecting, how it will be used, and how safely you’re storing it.
Gibbons: How can data collection be improved to ensure personalization without compromising customer confidence?
LockhartCustomers must see a clear value exchange for all data shared. Customers should understand that sharing their data leads to better outcomes. Businesses can also adapt their MarTech personalization strategies to each customer by making better use of customer sentiment analysis.
Gibbons: Which data innovation trends have you seen succeed? Where do you see personalization’s future going?
Lockhart: Advanced, real-time propensity models are getting better and better at predicting how customer behavior will change within seconds — this allows businesses to respond dynamically in turn. Personalization will move beyond digital devices to be fully integrated into our everyday physical spaces. Personalization is rapidly becoming ubiquitous from the produce aisle to car lots.
Although everyone is aware that the world will soon go digital, few people understand what that means. Phil Lockhart’s vision for data-based personalization is one that most business leaders cannot afford to ignore. Customers want connection. Using data in the right way will help you provide it.