Personalisation or smokescreen


Since the inception of broadband and the mainstream dissemination of technology one of the main comments IT departments hear is that personalisation is king so there is a need to ensure consumers have the best personalised experience possible to make them sticky. At a basic level this is certainly true as all individuals want to feel connected when interacting with any system however at a deeper level do consumers really want to provide masses of personal information to ensure a feature rich experience especially with the rise of cybercrime and identity theft or is this assumption hiding a deeper issue?

On a recent holiday with my family the hotel I was staying in offered a concierge service where you were given a mobile phone to ensure that all of your needs were satisfied during the stay i.e. they would arrange your dinner reservations, offer advice and customise your experience to your liking from a number of available options. However during the stay it made me question whether this was really a useful offering or actually acting as a smoke screen to poor technology investment. As an example most hotels/resorts around the world have become so large that they have multiple restaurants and you are required to forward book your choice 24 hours prior to your attendance. This generally involves turning up to a desk (or using a concierge) and adding your name to a list to confirm your reservation.   In this day and age this is ridiculous, if I wasn’t on holiday I would make any reservation required online however as soon as I go abroad and my time is even more valuable somehow I go back in time and act like a sheep to arrange the services I need during my stay… Wouldn’t it be far better if you turned up to a resort, were given a logon to a booking system and then could proceed to book your restaurants of choice for your total stay and any other services you need including the desired times and were then printed an itinerary?.   During 90% of our year we are able to interact with technology however when on holiday it seems that it is assumed that we would be incapable of using an app or calendar program and are happy to queue multiple times for multiple reasons during your stay. I am not against personalisation however upon reflection it seems sometimes this can actually be a smokescreen for poor technological investments.

Therefore to ensure that any product offering/design satisfies the customer needs, rather than immediately assuming personalisation is the answer its imperative that the actual customer requirements are addressed first rather than assuming personalisation will make all previous bad decisions right. Everyone has heard the adage “Putting Lipstick on a Pig” so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that adding personalisation to a bad system will suddenly make it better.

A great UI and experience for all will always trump any personalisation that needs additionally submitted variables to create that feature rich experience.

Author: Steve Wakefield

Steve Wakefield is an experienced Innovator presently based in London.

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