Building Loyalty Through Personalized, Connected Customer Experiences


Bain experts Maureen Burns and Bill Groves recently explained how companies can use AI to up their CX game. Here’s a recap.

With generative AI tools, companies can create personalized customer experiences they hadn’t even imagined a year ago. Bain & Company partners Maureen Burns and Bill Groves walked through some of the possibilities – and the risks – during a recent webinar.

Burns is a leader in Bain’s customer practice who works with companies in financial services, banking, and insurance. She also co-authored Winning on Purpose: The Unbeatable Strategy of Loving Customers. Before joining Bain, Groves was a chief data and analytic officer at Fortune 500 firms such as Walmart, Honeywell, and Dun & Bradstreet.

These are the top 12 takeaways for personalized CX:

  1. Today’s frontline is digital. For years, we’ve counted on humans to swoop in and deliver exceptional personalized CX. Now, the frontline of your operation is digital. Make sure your digital experiences are as welcoming, friendly, and attentive as your best frontline workers.

  2. Personal connections are more important than ever. As you add technology, hold onto the closeness and communities you’ve built through human interactions. Use technology to listen (like e.l.f. did to create a killer social media and Super Bowl campaign that continues to evolve). You’ll find strategies that resonate with lots of customers and that you can personalize at scale.

  3. Generative AI could be the most important innovation since the internet. As the technology improves, generative AI will increase productivity in marketing, customer service, software development, and other functions. Accuracy, quality, and the amount of personalization will increase dramatically. And the dream of real-time, predictive NPS is coming. The hype is real.

  4. Some of the risks associated with AI are underappreciated. If you only build technology to maximize profits, you could miss opportunities to build long-term relationships with customers and increase customer lifetime value. Use personalization to present the best options for the customer and the company at the same time. (Hard truth: It might not be your product or the highest-value sale.)

  5. Companies that incorporate empathy into their digital interactions will become the next loyalty leaders. Every customer interaction is an opportunity to enrich or diminish the relationship. Make sure humans are at the center of your technology strategy. Build empathy and listening metrics into decision making and CX design.

  6. Anchor your technology in customers’ needs—and govern the process. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Be aware of the role your brand plays in customers’ lives and let that guide the level and type of personalization you pursue. Invest in capabilities that enhance your relationship without overreaching. Create strategies, governance processes, and ways of working to avoid mistakes. Human judgement is still a critical part of the AI loop.

  7. Segmentation is a steppingstone to personalization. It’s hard to go from blanket marketing messages to one-to-one personalization. Segmentation is the steppingstone to get there. Once you understand your customer strategy and vision, create target customer segments and map their cross-channel journeys. Tailor your value proposition and personalization strategies for each segment. Over time, you’ll pick up the skills to narrow the segments and connect more deeply with customers (to the point of predicting their purchasing behaviors and needs).

  8. Get rid of silos to get personal. Combine different systems (e.g., CRM, product, inventory) into one analytics layer so you get a holistic view of customers. You need to serve them as one, connected company regardless of channel to offer the right product at the right moment.

  9. Culture can be a CX killer. To get CX right, companies need a culture of experimentation and measurement. Make it safe to rapidly test, measure, and learn. Organizational structures and KPIs should be customer centric. Incentivize leadership behaviors that support CX—even if that means forgoing short-term gains to do what’s best for the customer.

  10. Don’t underestimate the talent engine. You can’t hire AI pros and prompt engineers. They don’t exist. Yet. Right now, you need to put the right people and mechanisms in place to encourage learning and allow your people to grow into experts.

  11. Break down barriers as you go. Find use cases that will deliver the most value and then go for it—don’t wait until you’ve overcome every barrier to scale. You can’t anticipate all the challenges that will pop up, so just get started.

  12. Start small and show value along the way. Most organizations already have the building blocks they need to connect with customers in more personalized and meaningful ways. The trick is integrating and layering those solutions in new ways, alongside AI. Deliver value from the tools you have while you work on the galactic solution. And always underpin your projects and investments in a strong business case. You have to demonstrate value every step of the way.

To see the full presentation, watch the recording. You can also sign up to receive more news and insights and invitations to future events.

NPSx Webinar - September 2023

Upcoming CX Events:

Explore the Third Wave of CX

in partnership with CXPA
Tuesday, Oct. 3 from 9-10 a.m. ET.  
The founder of NPS, Stanford Swinton, will lead a discussion on how to navigate the new (and changing) CX landscape.

Register for “Explore the Third Wave of CX” (Free webinar)


High-stakes CX: Citibank, American Airlines & NPS creator Fred Reichheld

co-hosted with Egon Zehnder
Thursday, Oct. 12 from 3-4 p.m. ET
Fred Reichheld and leaders from industry giants will share their insights on how to deliver CX to millions of customers. Moderated by Caroline Lombardi of Egon Zehnder.

Register for “High-stakes CX” (Free webinar)



About the Author

Evan Brennan-Johnson

Communications Manager, NPSx | Evan manages external communications and engagement, helping business leaders develop their capabilities and drive customer experience in the third wave of CX. He loves roller coasters, yoga, and traveling the globe.