Personalization: A Key Tenet of User Engagement

Today's guest post is from Alakh Verma, Director or Platform Technology Solutions at Oracle.


In today’s constantly changing and competitive business environment, consumers are seeking more personalized care and services for any engagement enter into prior to committing to any transaction. Relationships begin with humble greetings and a smile, progresses to a natural conversation and eventually evolves to understanding the needs and behavior in the process.

User engagement involves a mixture of quantitative and qualitative analysis. Quantitative analysis offers useful patterns and is generally more scalable and easier to conduct. User engagement also involves contextual study and ethnography. These provide information about the people, what their routines are in daily life and what their needs are for which they have visited the electronic website, physical store or workplace.

A few weeks back, I walked into a Wells Fargo branch in San Jose, to conduct a normal banking chores of depositing  a check. I was overwhelmed by warm greetings from the store manager, Robert Borcherding, and he offered to fill out the pay-in-slip while I was waiting in the queue for the teller. Realizing it might take longer, he came by again to offer assistance and accept my check for the deposit by personal banker. He kept talking and displaying his humility to offer the best care he could while I stayed in the branch.

Last week, when I walked in his branch again for some other banking transaction, I was pleasantly surprised to receive his personal greetings where he greeted me by name with smiles and again offered to assist with humility. I could see his urgency to satisfy me the fullest. This time, I was in his branch to meet his banking manager, Rosa S. Aguirre, regarding a refinance. When he saw that she was still busy with another customer, he offered to help speed up the process by making all the necessary photo copies of my documents that she might need. While he was doing this act of an extended personalized service, he was winning my trust and my heart in the process. By then, Rosa was free and ready to meet with me with all my documents in hand. I would categorize this act as a clear display of personalization that would go a long way in building trust and gaining, growing and retaining business for his store and for Wells Fargo in general. On the other hand, I have receive numerous aggressive and disturbing call center calls from a competitor bank for their services and I refuse to take those calls. I am sure many of you have encountered similar situations in your lives and we can all appreciate the significance of personalization and personalized care in business settings.

Customer services have been widely used and misused and now businesses need to re-evaluate the paradigm shift of customers’ needs and expectations. With recent technology and tools, we can easily build and deploy virtual web stores to deliver consumers near real-time, personalized user experiences.

Personalization implies that the content and experience are changed for each user based on implicit data, such as items previously purchased or pages recently viewed. On an intranet or B2E enterprise Web portal, personalization is often based on user attributes such as department, functional area or role.

There are three categories of personalization: a) profile / group based ; b) behavior based; and c) collaboration based. Web personalization models include rules-based filtering, based on "if this, then that" rules processing, and collaborative filtering, which serves relevant material to customers by combining their own personal preferences with the preferences of like-minded others. Collaborative filtering works well for books, music, video, etc.

There are three broad methods of personalization: a) implicit; b) explicit; and c) hybrid. With implicit personalization, the personalization is performed by the web page based on the different categories mentioned above. With explicit personalization, the web page is changed by the user using the features provided by the system. Hybrid personalization combines both two approaches to leverage the best of both worlds.

Personalization is also being considered for use in less overtly commercial applications to improve the user experience online. Facebook introduced Instant Personalization recently.  This new technology is different from Social Plug-ins, which many B2B and B2C sites are already using.  Social plug-ins include things like Facebook live streams and “Like Buttons” and are intended to drive user engagement and make a website more ‘social’.  With Instant Personalization, Facebook shares data with a handful of non-Facebook websites. 

Have you taken a look at your web site recently and thought about if you’re delivering a personalized experience to your users? Oracle WebCenter personalizes the online buying experience with a comprehensive, highly scalable user engagement platform and applications. Built on a foundation of proven capabilities, including personalization, business user control, cross-channel support, and a flexible platform, WebCenter boosts cross-channel business growth by helping customers quickly find desired products, learn about new offerings, comparison shop, register for gifts, preorder products, redeem coupons, and easily complete their purchases. For more information, visit oracle.com/webcenter.

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Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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