It's a simple formula really. If you make your customers feel important, they will reciprocate. Our team discovered this on our common search for the best coffee shop in San Francisco. Every time we walk into Cafe La Flore, Pepe greets us by name with enthusiasm and asks us personal questions. While he also has the best wraps west of the Mississippi, his humaneness won our loyalty.
How could this possibly apply to a digital interaction? Ask Amazon, who attributes 35% of its sales to personalized recommendations. Or Netflix, who claims to save $1B each year by knowing each user's movies tastes. The answer is Personalization. Our favorite technologies are the ones that know us the best. Even Starbucks attributes a 3-fold increase in online spending to their personalized digital loyalty experience.
Of course this data explosion has established a fine line between creepy and intimate. Just like I wouldn't want Pepe asking me about my cousin Gertrude's recent run-in with the mall security, I don't want Bonobos.com showing me articles related to the book I'm reading. Most of us can agree that Target knowing about a pregnancy before the father crosses that line. Again, the formula is simple: be human. Digging through data to exploit becomes creepy; learning about a user to enrich their experience is humane. It's friendly.
Your goal as a business is to build loving relationships with your customers. You want them to love you and they want you to know them and make their experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Just listen. That means using machine learning to make your tech more human.