From persona to human: how key trends are redefining customer experience

By Ioannis Melas, Partner, UK&I Technology, Media and Telecommunications, EY.

In this series of blogs I’m looking at the key trends shaping the market and underlining the need for companies to take a new approach to customer experience.

In my first blog you can read about the broader reasons why organisations are coming under ever greater pressure to improve customer experience. I also summarise an approach that helps clients to address this challenge by creating a digitally integrated customer experience (DICE). But more on that later. The trend we’re examining in this blog is the move towards providing more personalised services and experiences. In other words, the shift from persona to human.

The benefits of personalisation

Marketers have long understood the power of the personal. Nearly half report that personalisation boosts revenues by over 10%, while 70% of businesses say they value personalised recommendations on how to use services*. That makes personalisation a valuable tool, enabling providers to not only delight customers but also expand sales by tailoring content to usage patterns and extending the adoption of services.

From a consumer viewpoint it has a number of advantages. A personalised experience can save us time because, through recognising our needs, it can take us where we need to be more quickly. It can also steer us towards new services that may complement or expand existing usage.

Customer segmentation

Providers have generally applied personalisation by segmenting customers into groups and often attributing personas to those groups. For example, customers may be described and serviced as ‘early adopters’ or ‘value seekers’. Or the group could be constructed according to age, income, location or spend. This tendency towards generalisation rather than humanisation may be accentuated because much of the time companies are selling into one type of account owner. For example, in a B2B context this could be the procurement officer and in a B2C context the homeowner. This has presented a traditional barrier to personalisation that companies need to overcome.

While there is no doubt that personas and microsegments are useful tools for service design and base management, they are, almost by definition, relatively blunt instruments. When it comes to actual interaction with a customer, any degree of abstraction can be too much. Full personalisation should always be the aim.

Of course, until recently, this level of personalisation was only possible in limited circumstances: typically for smaller companies with relatively few customers and high staffing levels. But the shift to digital and the resulting inexorable rise in available data has created new opportunities to measure, analyse, and fine tune that engagement. Providers can now track, collect and crunch data at individual customer level. Interfaces can adapt to those personal preferences and respond, making the individual’s most common tasks and favourite content both more accessible and more efficient to use.

Data privacy

While many companies rightly focus on the careful collection of customer data in line with regulatory and customers’ privacy concerns, they may be missing a wider opportunity. Trust lies at the heart of the customer/provider relationships and going beyond a focus on compliance can be a way of generating value. Our research shows that 72% of people are cautious about disclosing information to providers, even if the website is a brand they trust**. Providers may find it useful to think of ‘fair value exchange’ in the context of customer data, to the extent that users share data knowingly but feel they get something worthwhile in return.

Digitally integrated experience

So, having highlighted the trend from persona to human and shown that it is driven by personal data, how do you make sure your organisation benefits from the considerable opportunities? With so many touch points and channels, how do you provide a seamless, friction-free personalised service for your customers? The answer lies in having a single integrated approach. One that enables continuous, interactive engagement with customers and understands their individual needs and expectations every day of the year.

Creating a digitally integrated customer experience (DICE) will help you to achieve these objectives. DICE has been developed from our experience of helping major technology, media and telecoms clients transform their customer experience. By establishing a continuous and iterative approach that harnesses different disciplines – from user research to analytics, rapid prototyping and technology architecture – DICE can help companies in all sectors to meet the rising levels of customer expectation and thereby gain competitive advantage.

Contact us to find out more about how we can help.


EY, “Navigating the Bundle Jungle, 2016

EY, “Digital Home”, 2018 to 2019

EY, “Generation XYZ”2017

 Related Blogs

From conversion to engagement: how key trends are redefining customer experience.

From bundle to platform: how customer trends are changing the digital landscape

Making customer experience a competitive advantage

How can Telcos adapt to their customers’ changing needs


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