Harnessing Data and Analytics to Personalize Customer Experiences

Most financial services and retail companies spend a lot of time and money creating rich customer stories and personas to improve marketing and sales.

These engineered customer stories help target general markets and improve offerings on a broad scale. You probably also spend much of your strategic IT budget on user experience applications, enhancing mobile capabilities, streamlining your website and expanding self-service options.

But even with all that effort, you may not be seeing the ROI you expect.

You wouldn’t be alone. More than two-thirds of all websites fail to consistently engage users or drive conversions, while of 1.6 million apps, just 200 account for 70 percent of all use; three out of four apps aren’t even used beyond the initial download.

Getting to know your customers

My previous post addressed the changing needs of customers and their expectation that you know them as individuals, not generic customers. But what do you learn from generalized persona development? Do you understand what drives their decision making? Can you visualize their desires, goals and intentions?

With the average person targeted by thousands of ads a day, your marketing and user experience investments must go beyond general ideas and stereotypes of your target markets. You need a clear message that communicates why your company should be part of their unique story.

Getting to know a person takes time. I still struggle with gift ideas for my husband! If retailers and financial services institutions hope to make cost-effective strides to predict their customers’ needs, they’ll need to turn to one of their most valuable resources: data.

But it’s not just gathering the data — it’s how you use it that makes a difference. You need strategies and processes that utilize your existing and external data sources to automatically personalize the customer experience.

There are countless tools to help you take better advantage of the information you already have. You know what your customers have bought before, which products they’ve kept the longest, basic demographic information and buying patterns. You know what your competitors are offering and how you compare. You also know what people are saying about you and your competition thanks to review sites, social media and customer surveys.

Bringing all of this together into a useful story takes a more than simply knowing. This valuable information must be disseminated to every point of contact between your company and your potential customers, from call center employees and sales personnel, to branch associates and investment advisors. Your customers expect you to know them, and you have to support customer‑facing staff with the right data.

The foundations of effective strategy

There are three key data initiatives every retailer and financial services company needs for an effective strategy to deliver a differentiated customer experience.

  • Mastering data management: Everything starts and ends with your data. Having clean and traceable data is critical for every aspect of your business, from asset management to supply chains and customer buying journeys. Getting this right is a crucial part of effective analytics, business process management and artificial intelligence implementations, and will empower you to make informed decisions throughout your user experience evolution.
  • Social insights program: At a minimum, you need to know what customers are saying about your products and competition. Better still, you need to understand their daily lives and the key market drivers that might affect the relevancy of your products, enabling you to tailor and target your story accordingly.
  • Real-time marketing and sales adjustments: Customers wants to feel unique, and meeting that wish requires that you provide multiple methods of interaction to suit their experience expectations (web, mobile, app, and in-store) and timely recommendations based on their browsing and previous purchases and in line with their vision of themselves. In other words, context is key. Customers are real, unique, and they want to be valued as individuals. Considering context can make promotions more impactful and help customers connect with your business.

Creating the experience

Driving a customer experience based on data means creating a unique experience that they will connect with emotionally, but that might mean rethinking your platform and their buying journey. You need to get specific, narrowing down to a target audience of one.

Rackspace has a number of services and solutions to help you scale, specialize, adapt and provide context. We can accommodate growing data and storage needs, help implement big data solutions to make use of that data, and optimize and manage your ecommerce and digital experience platforms.

Learn more about Navigating the Complexity of Big Data Transformation by downloading the Forrester Consulting research study today, or just check out the related blog post.

Joni Williamson joined Rackspace in 2018 to build the financial services solutions group. With extensive IT experience and a focus on meeting the needs of diverse client teams and executive strategies, Joni brings a strong vision and strategy to the company. Prior to joining Rackspace, Joni worked in IBM’s Cloud division, managing the Financial Services relationships for North America. Before that she spent 12 years at Bank of America, focused on reducing IT complexity, increasing automation, lowering the overall costs of IT and building diverse teams to handle complex transformations. That work has given her a broad vision of IT for financial services and a practical understanding of how best to address concerns across people, process and technology. In addition to her experience, Joni is a Master of Managed Change, and holds ITIL, Design Thinking, Project Management Professional, and Six Sigma Master Black Belt certifications.


  1. Thanks Joni, I really appreciate your article. I also read your first article. You raise a very good point about customer experience because most of the company thinks a good user experience is enough to grow their business. But now data analytics and management is the most crucial part for better customer experience. And as you say implement of artificial intelligence is doing our work easier to build better customer experience.

  2. Absolutely Lily! Truly understanding your customer makes all the difference to enable a great experience with your brand. And with the massive quantities of data in today’s online world, we need AI and great data scientists to help us make sense of it all more than ever! Thanks for reading!

  3. Hi Joni,
    I really appreciate your article. It is really a nice and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you shared this helpful info with us.


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