Why reputation matters when it comes to deep personalization

Trust matters in digital

Your reputation matters when it comes to deep personalization

In a recent article, Fast Company outlined United’s struggle with deep personalization. The author describes the challenge that Linda Jojo, United’s EVP of Technology and Chief Digital Officer has as she sponsors the development of United’s next generation app.

“We’re actually trying to arm our employees with information about who is seated in 7C so that our flight attendants can have a better way of interacting with them,” Jojo is quoted as saying. “But the reality is that the line between personalized and creepy is different for different people. Do you like it when we come up and wish you a happy birthday? We’re trying to figure out where does that line fall.”

According to Fast Company, United is not the only company struggling to figure out how to use the deep data assets in a manner which doesn’t alienate customers or create an experience that “creeps them out”.

Read the article further and you might take away the conclusion that companies are in a no win situation. Every customer’s threshold for personalization is different, and, even when they provide controls for minimizing data usage and personalization, customers don’t tend to use them.

Unfortunately, Jojo, Fast Company and too many others ignore the basics when it comes to data personalization.

Reputation matters.

If your customer trusts you, you likely have a lot more latitude to provide a personalized experience.

As a United customer I will tell you that I have very little confidence in their willingness to put my wellbeing in front of their own financial interests. I have both witnessed and been the subject of multiple situations in which the airline’s policies and processes prioritize profit over the customer. Why would I think their use of my data is any different?

USAA, on the other hand, has proven over and over that they have my best interest in mind. Every interaction I have with their brand reinforces that they are attempting to provide an optimal customer experience and take care of me.

USAA can wish me Happy Birthday all day long. I believe they genuinely mean it and I trust them with that data. United, not so much. I’d be willing to bet they are using those word to convince me to buy myself an overpriced celebratory drink.