Personalization Obituary

​I quite like talking to my family about what I do for a living.  Perfecting customer experiences through technology means different things for different people and my father is always an enthusiastic sounding board for how technology impacts the everyday consumer.   He’s a retired tech-savvy, iPhone-loving, Quicken-loyal, Dell-proud, HD-crazed man that could easily be misunderstood by his brooding good looks, a silver-fox farmer style and his custom crocodile ​​cowboy boots.  But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his own opinion about customer service.

So when I do chat with him about what our technology does for people, he has a heightened sense of awareness.  This awareness varies from the “does your technology call me during dinner?”  No dad, it doesn’t.   “Does your technology record my calls?”  Yes dad, companies use our software to do that and improve service.  “Does your stuff monitor my behavior and make creepy recommendations on the web?”  It can dad, but part of making recommendations is not sounding creepy.  I went on to explain to my father that this is the challenge for most brands:  using an increasingly large storehouse of data for good while still sounding good.  A few days later, he sent me his personalization obituary.
 
My Own Damn Business, 67, Dies
The concept that a few small parts of my life should remain unknown to corporations or colleagues died last night. The cause of death was a coupon from Target for half off hemorrhoid ointment, with the note "We noticed you bought a soft travel pillow last week. People who buy soft travel pillows are 40 percent more likely to seek relief with hemorrhoid cream. Would you like something to soothe your swollen rectal glands?"      
       
Born 67 years ago when he first developed the notions of self and shame, My Own Damn Business had been ailing for some time due to numerous questionnaires, surveys, embedded cookies, Facebook's marketing of all my likes and dislikes, Google's list of every search I've ever made, and Hulu's requests about how I rated my "ad experience." 

My Own Damn Business is survived by a 68-year-old Christian male who likes grand parenting, hunting , fishing, browsing photos of female swimmers and volleyball players, watching dystopian thrillers, eating southwestern food, and battling eczema.  May he rest in peace!

It’s very clear that consumers want personal service, but before we put all our loyal customers in the obituary section of the Sunday paper, we must remember to be good stewards of our data.  Data served up at every click and call must be delivered in doses that sound helpful, encouraging and effortless.  Consumers don’t want a barrage of offers and deals, they want timely spot-on recommendations that are offered up with a smile and helping hand.  Yes, that means moving some of your marketing budget from the 300x60 experience on YouTube and communicating it via real people in real-time.  I challenge us all to personalize experiences with timely offers and experiences, but create a perfect experience by throttling back your technology at times to just be helpful and courteous.  Love you, dad!​
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