We continue our series of articles about personalized cigar recommendations and what we consider to be the key factors for a personalized service. Today we’ll focus on personalization aspects and will also share with you some of the results of our latest customer satisfaction survey…
Science vs. Pragmatism
If you have read us before, you know that we operate as a lean-agile team. In alignment with our continuous improvement remit, we recently conducted a non-scientific survey among our members. The survey was meant to understand where we’re doing well and where we can further improve our service. The areas we selected are the ones that we consider to be key success factors for our personalized service:
- User Control
- Sales Motive
- Cigar Knowledge
- Member Knowledge
We thank our members for the terrific feedback we received on all these fronts.
Today, we’ll focus on the personalization aspect.
In our era of hyperconnected consumers, personalization is key and its success requires companies to plan, structure and align around the customer:
- According to Accenture, 81% of consumers want brands to understand them better
- According to Adobe, 60% of marketers struggle to personalize content in real time, yet 77% believe real-time personalization is crucial
Personalized experiences are a hot topic for businesses because they drive incremental revenue and customer loyalty. As Forbes states, “when a customer walks into a retail store, the salesperson has two choices: simply ring up a purchase, or truly help the customer get what he or she really needs. The latter includes learning about the customer and making customized suggestions, while the former lacks any personalization whatsoever.”
According to the study “Recommendations as personalized marketing”, the customer will be satisfied if the company makes recommendations that do not seem run-of-the mill collaborative filtering recommendations based upon the wisdom of the crowds.
Transposed in our cigar world, this occurs, for instance, when recommendations are not just cigars from the same brand or having the same wrapper type as what the recommender has recorded you have liked. Not only that, I have had particular cigars recommended to me because, for example:
- based on very high-level product descriptions and knowledge, one individual decided that’s the category of cigars I should like
- I have viewed that cigar on an online e-commerce more than once,
- other customers who like other cigars that I like, also like that cigar,
- that cigar is a “top seller”
- the recommender has a lot of that cigar in stock and wants to “move them”
- I told the retailer I used to like Cuban cigars, and got the most expensive cigar suggested
- I may have liked one cigar with a Connecticut wrapper, but that does not imply I will like all the other Connecticut wrapped cigars in the store’s inventory
Using such gross assumptions is not respectful to customers seeking true personalized recommendations. Mistakes further stack up if my personal profile is mixed with those of others, for instance:
- I may have purchased cigars that I dislike, to give as a gift to someone else who likes them
- My husband could have used my account to buy cigars that he likes, we have a very different taste!
How do we deal with “personalization” at Cigar Sense?
As described in a previous article on accuracy, personalization is about recommending cigars that truly match a consumer’s unique tastes. At Cigar Sense, we “learn” our members unique, individual taste preferences, and then give them cigar recommendations which match them, thanks to a few key factors:
- Our technology includes an inference engine which learns about our members preferences (through more than 65 attributes) as they interact with it, and an expert system which matches their preferences to cigars we’ve evaluated.
- Our cigar database is fed by the assessments of our panel of international trained tasters, who describe cigars over more than 150 attributes
- Direct feedback from our members on which characteristics they like or dislike in a cigar, which helps us improve the recommendations they receive.
How do our members rate us on personalization?
We asked our members:
Does Cigar Sense recommend cigars to me based only on my preferences, not on what other consumers like or have purchased?
We are very grateful to our members for recognizing what we strive for. Their overall score is 9.4 out of 10 for personalization!