I remember the day that my computer teacher taught us how to use Microsoft Word and do a mail-merge with our database we had built. My mind was blown.
That type of functionality is a given for any sort of letter or website that wants to be engaging these days. If who or what you’re interacting with recognizes you they’re adapting to what you want. It’s not just recognition of you being unique, it’s engaging you in what makes you unique (i.e. Targeted website ads, understanding shopping tendencies).
Engaging your customer with personalization starts with “Dear <First Name>”, but that’s just the start:
Personalization can’t be a separate department; it needs to be ingrained in the way everyone thinks about user experience. However, someone does need to oversee this and make sure it is well-thought-out and consistently implemented.
[P]ersonalization is… finding more useful purposes, and connected devices are getting in on the action. Nest, the thermostat which bills itself as a “Learning Thermostat,” is one such device. One of its major selling points is that it learns your behavior and figures out how to save you money by regulating the temperature in your home automatically (such as turning things down when you go out).
Connected devices such as those in the Fitbit ecosystem monitor your health via scales and wearable devices that track your health and activity. The fitness programs then personalize workouts based on your goals and current state.
Personalization has finally crawled out from the “product recommendation systems” pigeonhole and into a much more mature idea encompassing multi-faceted user experiences that learn from each other and all serve a common purpose: making the user feel like a VIP and attending to her needs in a highly dynamic, intelligent, and customized manner.