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How to Win Fans and Influence Profits: Using Digital Transformation to Achieve Hyper-Personalization

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Though written more than 80 years ago – long before digital transformation – Dale Carnegie’s seminal book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, remains one of the top 20 business books of all time.  It has been translated into multiple languages, sold 30 million copies worldwide, and served as the basis for a global business training program with more than eight million graduates… including Ronald Reagan, Warren Buffett, Lee Iacocca, Sanjay Gupta, Anthony Robbins, Chuck Norris, Bill Belichick, Danica Patrick, Orville Redenbacher, Dave Thomas, Emeril Lagasse, Scott Adams, and many more.

The book showcases six pieces of useful advice for those who need to work effectively with others... in-person back in the 1930s, but remotely or digitally today.  They are:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people
  2. Smile
  3. Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves
  5. Talk in terms of the other person's interests
  6. Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely

Or, at the risk of taking liberties, distilled down to one word: “Personalization.” 

Personalization – also called “hyper-personalization” or “hyper-relevance” – is the ability to make a good first impression, be memorable, and earn an individual’s trust over time.  It is marked by taking a vested interest in someone you’ve met and, through on-going acts of attentiveness and thoughtfulness, building a lasting and profitable relationship. In today’s business climate, with customer defections running at record levels, those virtues are more important than ever.

So, how well does Dale Carnegie’s timeless advice translate to digital transformation eight decades later? Remarkably well. 

TIP 1:   Become genuinely interested in other people.

In a recent study by Accenture, 76% of consumers would re-evaluate their choices in trusted advisors – their bank, insurance company, etc. – if the new company would excel at making themselves relevant and indispensable, compared to their current one.  And while attracting new customers is important, it’s not as important as keeping the ones you have today: Gartner studies show that 80% of a company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of its existing clients.  Likewise, studies by Bain & Company, show that not only are companies are 5-10x more successful selling to existing customers, but increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by at least 25%.

How digital transformation helps: A term you will hear frequently in discussions about digital transformation is “customer centricity.”  Customer centricity refers to the reengineering of people, processes, and technology, encircling the customer at the center.  By building a 360º view around their customers, companies are able to develop a very detailed knowledge base around each customer that reveals all sort of unprecedented insights about their future behaviors and needs.  These are known as customer moments; armed with the right customer information -- gathered and validated by AI, ML, and analytical models – companies can target and time their approach to customers with incredible precision.  It is all very data- and analytics-driven… but to the customer, it comes across as thoughtful, service-oriented, and perfectly-timed.

TIP 2:   Smile.

73% of consumers expect specialized treatment for being a good customer, based on a deep understanding of their needs, preferences and past interactions. Friendliness and approachability – even in an all-digital B2C relationship – goes a long way towards customer satisfaction… which leads to loyalty… which leads to retention, and the profits that come with it.

How digital transformation helps: Centralized Decisioning provides the digital equivalent of a knowing, helpful smile in the form of preemptive personalized products and services that deliver precisely what the customer needs… delivered instant before they realized they needed them.  And it ensures friendly, personalized customer services across all touches and channels: face-to-face, call center, web, chat, or digital.  Centralized Decisioning helps companies seize opportunities by ensuring complete, actionable, real-time information by assessing information against the most complete customer view possible – in real-time and using internal and external data – to ensure that every customer receives consistent, personalized service and actions across all channels.

TIP 3:   Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Accenture found that 84% of customers surveyed said that being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning and keeping their business.  In today’s digital customer engagement model, we are all familiar with the ways that Google tracks our whereabouts and goings-on to serve up real-time, context-appropriate advertiser content like a coupon at a restaurant five miles ahead; or how Amazon reminds you to buy coffee when it calculates you are running low; or how Netflix keeps you renewing every month by continually launch new, must-watch series that, according to their analytical model, you will love. The devil is in the data.

How digital transformation helps: Companies like Google, Amazon, and Netflix have set the bar for predictive and prescriptive customer services impossibly high.  And yet, they are the new  standard in the level of personalized services customer now expect from their bank, their insurance company, or trusted advisor.   Thankfully, a modern, platform-based solution like Centralized Decisioning goes far beyond just getting the customer’s name right; it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze and understand “normal” customer behavior and anomalies that could be an indicator of a soon-to-arise customer need (or fraud).  This enables companies to engage in mass-personalization on an enterprise-wide level… and wow the customer with your attention to personal detail.

TIP 4:   Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Always be listening for opportunities.  33% of consumers who abandon their relationship with their bank, insurance company, or other trusted advisor do so because personalization was lacking, according to the Accenture study… despite the fact that 61% of customers will gladly provide more personal information for exchange for better services, according to a recent study by Inc. magazine.  Like the marriage that flourishes when both spouses feel listened to and valued, customer relationships are underpinned and nurtured by frequent dialog and reinforcement.

How digital transformation helps: Customers don’t always verbalize their future needs and impending customer moments. And even if they did, companies can’t physically “listen” to every customer 24/7… nor could their best data scientists assimilate and interpret it quickly enough to be useful. That’s where AI, ML, and analytical models come in: they continually sift through data – structured, unstructured, etc. – looking for patterns and correlations at a level of detail and enormous breadth that human expert couldn’t possibly conclude on their own. Run through analytical models, these data suddenly transform from unrelated gibberish to discernable information, to actionable strategies. The more information companies can obtain from the customer, the more accurate those strategies will be in surpassing customer expectations… by listening.

TIP 5:   Talk in terms of the other person's interests.

A large and growing number customers, 66%, say it takes more than ever before for a company to impress them with new products and services. Very few prospects are interested in listening to a generic sales pitch, especially since every company’s sales pitch sounds the same. So, turn the tables: instead of droning on and on about your products and services, talk about THEIR needs… their aspirations… the things that matter to them the most. Present yourself as someone who can uniquely help them achieve their goals.  Go one step further: don’t just talk in terms in your customer’s interests… find ways in your interests are aligned.  Look for a win-win in which their interests and yours become mutual interests.

How digital transformation helps: Armed with verified information and validated strategies, companies can accurately predict impending customer needs, and offer a highly-personalized assortment of products and services that span the company’s entire portfolio… all of which are timed to coincide with upcoming customer moments.  This degree of hyper-detailed customer insight creates the perfect conditions for a life-long, mutually beneficial, win-win lifecycle. For example, if a bank landed a teen customer opening their first bank account and first credit card and – over time and thousands of transactions – amassed sufficient insights about that customer, it could secure the inside track on their future needs for a car loan, student loan, mortgage, etc.  The bank builds a life-long customer relationship; and the customer enjoys the convenience and peace-of-mind of a bank that is continually serving his or her needs before they even think to ask.

TIP 6:   Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.

French novelist Jean Giraudoux once quipped that “The secret of success is sincerity; once you can fake that you've got it made.”  It may have been easier to fake it back in Giraudoux’s era, but today consumers are considerably more savvy (or maybe a little more jaded): only 22% believe that the companies with which they do business tailor their customer experiences effectively, and in a manner that shows sincere interest in their well-being.  This is both an opportunity and a threat for most businesses: there has never been a better time to poach customers from a competitor; but by that same notion, competitors are plotting to steal yours, as well.

How digital transformation helps: Centralized Decisioning an ideal solution for helping the customer feel valued and appreciated… e.g. “partnered with,” not “marketed to.”  For example, in the traditional waterfall utilized by most business – especially financial institutions and insurance companies – each line-of-business takes a hit-or-miss shot at marketing new products to existing customers irrespective of the customer’s status or actual needs at that moment in time; but with Centralized Decisioning, companies take an enterprise-wide view of every customer and – armed with a personalized strategy, back by hard customer information – can approach the customers with more appropriate offers, at a time more likely to succeed.

 

And so, amid the flurry of impersonal digital touches, an 80-year-old book serves as an important reminder that at the end of the day, we are all people… people who appreciate the thoughtfulness, the attentiveness, and the sincerity of a gracious company-customer relationship.  No need to tell them it came from knowledge base full of algorithms. It’s the thought that counts.

To learn more, including customers case studies and whitepapers (registration may be required) please visit https://www.fico.com/CentralizedDecisioning

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