Hyper-personalization is where products and services are uniquely tailored to the exact specifications of a consumer. In the past, this might have been about segmentation and grouping customers together. Today, it's about, "delighting the individual on a very personal level," says Curran.
If hyper-personalization is the engine that's driving these virtual assistant vehicles, then AI is the nitrous oxide giving them extra oomph. In particular, a form of algorithm-based machine learning paired with natural language processing makes these assistants easier to use and better able to anticipate individuals' needs.
This is the experience Stitch Fix is providing its customers. With no physical or online store, this super-smart subscription clothing and styling service instead asks its customers to fill out a survey. Sure, it wants measurements and style preferences, but also more discreet information such as how you commute to work or whether you're a parent. Its algorithm uses this data, along with any links to social media accounts supplied and personal notes, to build a more complete picture of the customer. The results are provided via a user-friendly interface to the company's fashion stylists who select five items from a variety of brands. These are sent monthly to the customer who can keep whatever they like and return the rest.
Sounds a little intrusive, right? All these questions, all this information being handed over. Not necessarily. When survey respondents were given a selection of seven types of virtual assistants to rate, all were perceived as "more cool than creepy". That's not to say there weren't security and privacy concerns: 44 percent wanted guarantees that safeguards were in place to prevent personal information from being hacked or used without their knowledge. They wanted more transparency and the ability to review and control what happens to and with their personal data.