Understanding Personal Experience: The Missing Link in CX

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You’ve spent countless hours mapping your customer journey. You’ve aligned with Product, Sales, with Customer Success, and Ops to architect the twisting winding path your prospective customers take as they interact with your brand. You’ve taken that journey and outlined the experience each team is responsible for and mapped the sentiments a customer feels as they interact and engage with the members of your team. It looks good on paper.

But is that exercise enough to deliver a differentiated full personal experience to make consumers actually want to work with our brand?

The delta between Customer Experience and Customer Journey is vast. Even with robust customer journey mapping, businesses still continue to deliver a transactional, impersonal interaction at each touchpoint. These touchpoints are devoid of an integral element required for connectivity; that connectivity is what elevates and differentiates the overall experience.

Brands now have a responsibility to create experiences that drive value at the individual level – to better understand and engage the person – not the persona. But how can they deliver on that elevated experience and do so at scale?

Enter: Personal Experience.

What is Personal Experience (PX)?

“Personal Experience (PX) is the approach that prioritizes creating and strengthening personal bonds throughout the customer journey by transforming one-to-many touches into one-to-one moments driving sustainable business growth.”-  Alyce

As companies examine the collection of interactions between themselves and their prospects and customers, there is a notable difference between the interactions high performing teams are creating as compared to low ones. The companies curating and delivering elevated experiences designed to evoke emotion and build an emotional bond are making a much deeper impact on their audiences.

The key to delivering PX hinges on the ability to transform stale, transactional-driven touchpoints into actual memorable moments. A moment – the antithesis of a touchpoint – is uniquely characterized as an interaction, not a transaction, where an emotional resonance has been made with your audience. When properly curated, a moment will have three main criteria: reliability, relevancy, and respect.

Relatability

Our 9-to-5s no longer fully define us. What we do from 5:00 pm to 9:00 am has far more weight on how we self-identify than the personas we’ve been segmented into for marketing purposes Relatability starts with creating a bond over the #5to9™. This bond acts as a conduit for building rapport and eventually gives way to earning trust.

Let’s take a closer look at one of the most unrelatable channels these days: Prospecting Emails.

If you’re like me, you receive no less than a dozen of these generic prospecting emails any given day:

Subject Line: ACME + Dunder Mif’s eBook
Hi Getler,

I see that your team is promoting an ebook on your site. I’d love to share some information about our content sponsoring services. We have the best programs available for reaching marketing leaders and guarantee 500 registrants, though the norm is 1000+.

If you are interested in learning more about this or other opportunities, I’d love to discuss. A link to my calendar is here to schedule a call, thanks.

Jane Doe

There is nothing personal or relatable about this email. Not only was the email written only to serve the needs of the sender, but they also didn’t even check to make sure my first name populated in the salutation.

In stark contrast to that impersonal email, here’s an example:

Subject Line: Penne for your thoughts?

Hi Lisa,

Saw you’re not only leading Dunder Mif’s demand generation; you’re also a master of the kitchen! Thought this recipe book would help you continue to level up your cooking game.

Looking forward to hearing about any recipes that you loved and potentially exploring what we can do to cook up some pipeline for you with your recent ebook, “The ABCs of One Two Threes.”

Bon appetit,

Colin

This email cuts right through the monotony of prospecting emails and finds a way to relate to this person on a one-to-one level. There is clearly no mistaking it – this email was meant for only the intended recipient. A person – not a persona. The impact of creating that one-to-one, personal experience through Relatability brings with it the engagement rates that lead to higher quality in your outreach.

Relevancy

Timing and context are everything. If Relatability is about the #5to9, then Relevancy is about the 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Being relevant is about identifying and targeting the right person and engaging with them at the right time. To be relevant requires planning and coordination to identify the right person in an account and contextualize your outreach around their needs during the Customer Journey.

In the example email above, it would have been counterproductive for Colin to reach out to this prospect if they were not currently displaying qualifications of having an ebook and being in a demand gen leadership role. Demographic insights, when combined with intent data, improve the relevancy of your outreach which only makes your engagement tactics that much more effective.

Respect:

How you connect and interact with your audience has a deep and lasting impact. Trust can be quickly established or broken by the intention you convey in the delivery of a moment. Audiences have a keen eye for the intention behind your outreach: authenticity in your interactions is the key to delivering respect.

Let’s go back to our email from Jane at ACME:

I see that your team is promoting an ebook on your site. I’d love to share some information about our content sponsoring services. We have the best programs available for reaching marketing leaders and guarantee 500 registrants, though the norm is 1000+.

If you are interested in learning more about this or other opportunities, I’d love to discuss. A link to my calendar is here to schedule a call, thanks.

Point blank: this email is self-serving. With all of their “I” statements, the sender assumes too much about my org’s needs, my role, my budget, and my time. Instead of planting the seeds of curiosity with this email and engaging me with thought-provoking questions, this does the opposite of interesting me in taking a call.

Personal Experiences have the potential to transform the way your business goes about building relationships with your prospects and customers. This approach is one that translates into net new business and compounds over time to yield a higher likelihood of repeat business.

Many businesses claim personalization as their mechanism for delivering a personal experience moment. Personalization alone isn’t enough to deliver that elevated connection.

Personalization isn’t the Same as Personal

Plainly put – personalization and personal are not the same thing.

The suffix “-zation” denotes “a process.” We have somehow focused more on the prefix than the root word personal.

As we leveraged automation to bring scale, quantity, and velocity into our marketing and selling motions, we sacrificed quality in our interpersonal communication. The introduction of personalization tokens like {{First.Name}} and {{Company.Name}} were a bit closer to a sense of personal, but data and digital footprints are a double-edged sword.

While we have access to vast amounts of data, this data serves little to no use when creating an experience that cuts through the increased noise clogging today’s marketplace. To do personalization well, you first need to have a thorough and detailed grasp of your customer. And not just the fundamentals like demographics.

Insights such as buying behavior, preferences, aversions, and time-bound pain points are harder and harder to aggregate at a fast enough rate to capitalize on intent signals.

Disparate channels and systems, each housing their own data points, make it’s nearly impossible to weave together an automated comprehensive story. Without that unified, singular story, personalization – especially at scale – has become quite difficult.

So difficult that the second-most challenging thing Enterprise companies are facing today in CX is the ability to deliver personalized experiences!

To move the needle on CX, brands need to take a step back from their dependency on personalization tactics to adopt an approach that prioritizes the person before the persona. Brands doing this hard – not scalable – work are those that are getting closer to, and more personal with their customers. That effort pays off in shorter sales cycles, higher retention rates, and better overall customer satisfaction.
One Final Thought:

Personal Experience is not just a marketing exercise. It’s also not a Sales or a Customer Success exercise or new tool. It’s a cultural transformation that needs to begin from within an organization.

We often hear culture is an employee retention play, aimed at mitigating the costly turnover in employees. I’d argue that it’s more than that. Your company culture extends through those that are interacting with your customers – both existing and future potential.

PX Use Cases

That is to say: how you treat your employees is how they will treat your customers.
If your culture does not prioritize the personal or celebrate the #5to9, PX is not a winning approach for you business.

On the other hand, if your co-founder often shares stories about his young son or your CTO is well known for their craftsmanship in needlepoint, PX is already well ingrained into your culture. When the passions your leaders pursue in their #5to9 is just as well known and valued as their 9-to-5, then your employees will be empowered to build those same type of bonds to the folks they interact with outside of your company.

How are you and your organization driving personal experience?

We’d love to hear your stories of PX and the #5to9 below.

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