Choices: Grande Skim Mocha With Whip @ 140 Degrees

Choices.  We can all become overwhelmed with them.  As several studies have shown, more choices are not better…they paralyze us and limit our ability to make a decision. 

So what do we do with this.  Choice is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, you want to offer choice to everyone.  On the other hand, this can make implementation very difficult. 

Like my Starbucks example.  I can customize almost everything off a pretty basic menu…even the temperature.  (BTW – they suggested using 140 degrees rather than saying kiddy temperature)  But that makes it more difficult to standardize and should increase the risk of error.  Imagine doing this efficiently and in scale.

Mass customization has been a challenge for years. 

People can have the Model T in any color – as long as it’s black.  (Henry Ford)

While technology allows this to a certain degree, it all has to be moderated.  Let’s take communications.  I could let every consumer tell me their preferences and other facts about them.

I want you to send me automated calls unless the information is clinical in which case I want a letter than I can share with my physician.  I’d like the calls made to my home number between 5-7 pm or on Saturday’s between 10-4.  I’d like you to leave a message and don’t call back unless I don’t act for seven days.  If I interact with the call, please text me the URL or phone number for follow-up.  I like to be addressed by my first name.  I’m an INTJ so please use that as for framing the message. 

You get the point.  Where do you stop?  And, do you really think that I know what’s best.  I tell almost everyone to e-mail me, but depending on when it comes in, it could be days before I respond or even read the e-mail.  That’s if it passes the spam filter. 

I’m sure if I asked 10 people whether they wanted automated calls then 7 of them would say no, BUT you know what…good calls work (voice recorded, speech recognition, personalized).  The vast majority of people interact with good, automated calls (some for 10+ minutes).  Most people think about those annoying robocalls that use TTS (text to speech) we all get around the elections.  But, good technology with a relevant message from a relevant party get people to care.  It’s all about WIIFM (what’s in it for me).   The other half of the equation is being able to coordinate the multiple modes.  (e.g., I missed you so I’m sending you a letter.  Let me text you the URL.)

So, should I let the consumer pick their preferences?  Sure for certain things.  But, what about a drug recall (for example)?  Do I have to wait a week to get a letter?   What can I personalize versus what should the company own.  I pay for them to “manage” my health.  Why don’t I let them?

There is no perfect system.  You need a series of things to be successful. 

  • A database to track consumers – demographic data, claims data, preferences, interaction history, …
  • A workflow engine with embedded business rules to manage communication programs with rules about what to do when certain situations arise
  • Reporting to track basic metrics
  • Analytics to understand and analyze programs

And, of course all this requires expertise to interpret and leverage the data for continuous improvement.

Are you doing all that?  I doubt it…but you can be.

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