Customer Insights Blog

Knowing your customer, understanding their journey and experience with your brand, plus accurately anticipating their needs — that, in a nutshell, is personalization. It’s what marketeers around the world are striving to achieve with their digital marketing and communication platforms. At PODS – a 25-year-old moving and storage leader – we realized that to differentiate our brand and deliver the best service to customers, mastering personalization is foundational.

Personalization and the customer experience are critical at PODS because we are dealing with life-changing events. From a customer getting a new job in a new city, to moving to their dream home, or downsizing after the kids move out. Even laying new flooring or renovating their kitchen. These are just a few of the reasons customers use PODS’ moving and storage services. Managing the logistics that accompany those life events requires thoughtful attention and personalized interactions.

Digital transformation: Our strategy for success

But personalization needs a sound, scalable strategy. This can take time. Indeed, many who deliver digital experiences shy away from personalization because they don't know how or where to get started. Unfortunately, personalization doesn't just magically happen.

If you haven’t been through the exercise of researching and learning who your customers are, properly segmenting them, understanding their journey; if you try to start personalization in the middle without planning and research, you will most likely get frustrated with the results and quit.

The other challenge to personalization is resourcing. Start small and create wins. This will not only give you the confidence to scale; it will also give you the base for establishing an ROI for resourcing. Don’t fall into the trap of being too ambitious at the start. Instead, grow into your ambitions and determine the best way to scale personalization with your team.

Here’s an example of what I mean by starting small. Big changes such as relocating to a new home often require phone calls to complement the online process, so PODS uses a hybrid online/offline ordering model. A customer looking for a PODS quote for a long-distance move, say from California to Florida, would select that option on PODS.com and enter their starting and ending ZIP codes. But then they were abandoning their quote and going to other parts of the site. Personalization rules help us re-engage customers in session.

By doing the research into how customers were interacting with our site, we were able to create an opportunity to re-engage customers with a personalization tactic that increased our customer engagement rates. This also led us to test different UX/UI solutions, such as using modals vs. banners. (In case you’re curious—the modal is winning.)

Returning to the idea of starting small: you take something, you try it, you get a nugget that works, and then you feel confident to move forward with more ambitious personalization. At the same time, you can use those small, but successful steps to communicate with the executive team on building a business case on how to scale this technology.

The other thing I’ve found to be critical is bringing in an agency that has practical personalization experience. The money you spend on an agency that has been down the personalization road will pay for itself exponentially. If you are like PODS, with a website that attracts millions of visits, then you’ve got to match that volume of traffic with the appropriate investment in expert advice and technology.

Sitecore and PODS: A winning team

We chose Sitecore for our digital experience platform primarily because of its strong personalization capabilities. Especially how Sitecore understands, supports, and encourages that upfront work and preparation. And I applaud Sitecore for the way it has grown and evolved its understanding and knowledge of these core personalization principles.

Moving is a complex transaction that requires the orchestration of many events. This complexity can require both online and offline engagements to ensure our customers have the best possible experience. Our next journey in our personalization is to bridge Sitecore and our CRM system so we can have a true 360-degree view of the customer journey. By upgrading to 10.1, we have greater functionality for integrating these platforms and further expanding the customer’s digital journey utilizing the power of personalization.

The bottom line? Plan for personalization. Take your time to invest in the right teams, support, and technology and you will succeed at driving your digital transformation forward.

Paul Tucker is Director of Digital at PODS. Connect with Paul on LinkedIn.