A Faster Path to Personalisation

Posted by Shammah Banerjee | 14-Feb-2020 15:19:49

Great brands interact with their individual customers. Today, customers expect more and more from brands, to the point that 69% of businesses rank improving customer experience and engagement as a very high priority in 2020. Across the board, organisations need to develop their relationship with their customers to compete in the marketplace and create enduring brands. The key to this goal is personalisation.

However, businesses repeatedly come up against common foes: inconsistency of experience, data privacy concerns, time-consuming curation. Nimbus Ninety members gathered in The Mercer to discuss how to accelerate their personalisation dreams, and learn from the best-in-class.


Organisations are on a perilous but determined mission to stand out from the crowd, and a huge part of that is building an emotional connection. Making the experience visceral and layered – not just glossy and high-touch – is crucial in making your product or service different and memorable.

“Emotional design is nothing new,” Kaustav Bhattacharya, Director of Technology at ustwo, told the audience. “You want to create the spirit of the unexpected, by developing something that people will care about, talk about, and be wowed by.”

With this in mind, Kaustav argued that agile and lean methodologies don’t always deliver in the best way. While they deliver fast and iteratively, they don’t allow space for the creativity that is needed to curate emotional moments. A freer setting that doesn’t rely on a crystallised plan, but empowers workers to think broadly, is where those creative sparks can really light up.



As soon as businesses are personalising to further their brand, the mission will fail. It must be 100% focused on improving customer experience. Of course, these things are interlinked but a total focus on the customer gives the right perspective to curate an experience with success. 

Integrating into people’s lifestyles is the holy grail for organisations trying to ace personalisation, and if this is done successfully it can hugely accelerate development of brand. One example given was that of an extremely successful challenger bank in the UAE called LIV. The goal of the bank was simple – to create a personalised and contextual banking experience based on people’s lifestyles. Therefore, when opening an account, users are asked three questions: what food do you like? What lifestyle most suits you? And are you a cocktail person or a mocktail person? From here, LIV could begin to paint a picture of their new customer, and create targeted and personalised offers, based on lifestyle needs and wants. Today, LIV has 10,000 new customers a month and is the most popular challenger bank in the UAE.

But it is also important to consider so much more than just the utility of the product or service. Simplicity, fun, low cognitive load and satisfaction are all of the utmost importance. Kaustav argued that satisfaction is the key thing. “Without it, people won’t be engaged enough to continue using your product,” he told the audience.



Another example of brilliantly measured, targeted and useful personalisation was the Deliveroo Dinner Prompt. Through a combination of location data and behavioural data (i.e. what Trainline’s James Moore described as the “moment of weakness”), users receive a notification at the time they most regularly order takeaway, in the place they most regularly order it, with an offer of a food they like. The result is a perfect combination of utility, satisfaction and simplicity: hitting users at the perfect moment with a wow-factor experience. By beginning with the customer experience, the business growth follows.

Guy Hancox, Analytics and Insight Manager for Waitrose Ecommerce, argued that it’s also important to focus on lifetime value for customers, rather than just the quick wins. Promotions and discounts tend to be a quick fix for revenue, rather than developing the long-term relationships with customers who need a more personalised journey. 



But how do you do this at scale? Bringing machine learning into the personalisation equation allows businesses to create experiences that are ever more personalised and targeted. With algorithms that can imagine every permutation of the behavioural data in front of them, the possibilities for personalisation are endless.

Michael Finn, VP of Product Marketing at Syntasa, explained the steps to building personalisation at scale. It begins with data at an individual level that can be processed through custom AI-ML models, activated across all channels and leveraged in the cloud. With Syntasa’s technology, integration with the data already there as well as the different platforms already in use is simple. Waitrose’s Guy Hancox said that integrating Syntasa was so simple, they didn’t even have to involve IT: “it was no great infrastructure change, no massive investment, and it was compatible across all our platforms.” 

As a customer base grows, it becomes harder to keep personalisation consistent. However, consistency online and offline is vital. Guy explained how personalisation can lead to anarchy, if it’s not executed with consistency across platforms. This is also where humans must enter the process – the algorithm cannot do all of the work. Integration with the cloud and marketing platforms is very helpful in nailing consistency across channels, whether that is email, website, social, in-store, or any others. 

However, growing personalisation at scale poses another question to organisations striving for evermore personalisation. How far is too far? How close to the customer is too close? Our panel pondered this question amongst themselves, with occasional interjections from the audience.

Syntasa’s Michael said that the key is for organisations to stay within the realms of “useful”, as well as ensuring that the user knows how their data has been obtained. If a user understands how a business has been able to personalise their experience, there is no problem; if a user can’t see this trail, then it becomes creepy.

With advancements in AI giving businesses a new ability to develop customer experience through behavioural data signals, the potential is huge. But, organisations mustn’t forget the importance of building the emotional connection and bringing it back to what makes us human.


This event was held in partnership with Syntasa, an AI-driven behavioural intelligence platform.


Topics: Event reports

Written by Shammah Banerjee

Shammah is the Senior Editor at Nimbus Ninety. She tracks down the most exciting stories in business and tech, produces the content and gets to chat with the biggest innovators of the moment at Chief Disruptor LIVE.

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