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Past vs. present: How the customer experience died with technology (& how to bring it back from the dead)


Is it too late to save the modern customer experience? Or have we gone too far automating the human out of the buying process?

Collabo XD has helped companies and institutions personalize their end-user experience by mapping their journey and bringing back the human element.

This is what we’ve learned about the past and present in customer experience:

How the personalization battle was won

Whether you’re buying $50 worth of groceries or $49,999 worth of enterprise software, personalization in the customer experience is important.

You want to feel like, be treated like and talked to like a human.

And the research backs you up: 80% of customers enjoy personalization so much they’d purchase a good or service just because of a personalized buying experience.

So how has personalization changed over time?


Past customer experience: Human interaction is the bedrock of our economy

Well, it wasn’t really called personalization back then. It was just part of the human experience.

  • Local “mom-and-pop” shops
  • Deliveries from your local milkman

A highly personal buying experience.

The past was built around human relationships. For thousands of years, this is how we humans interacted. This is how our economies worked. Buying from people we knew and trusted.

With the rise of mega-corporations, online shopping and automation, a lot of that is gone – whether you’re a fan or not. All in the name of convenience and cost-savings.

But one advantage of the past customer experience is the strong relationships created by personalization. The loyalty we’d have in the companies we bought from.

Then in the 1990s, personalization-at-scale was invented using a little-known technology called email.

Present customer experience: Pros & cons of personalization

Enter technology and artificial intelligence.

Think back to your last buying experience. Chances are, you either bought your goods online or didn’t interact with any humans (e.g. credit card payment at gas stations). In fact, 13.9% of Q1 2022 sales were online.

With the customer experience being automated away, personalization is both easier and tougher. Let me explain.

The company you’re buying from has dirt on you. Well, really it’s your personal data. So they know your name, your location, your favorite items, etc.

For example, take this online grocery delivery experience:

Hi, Julie. You look great today. It’s a beautiful day in Los Angeles. 80° phew. Would you like to add vanilla bean ice cream to your cart? We know you enjoy it once in awhile and you haven’t had it in 7 weeks 😏

AI provides a whole bunch of personalization opportunities. But it also, takes them away.

Some companies look for every opportunity to reduce their headcount and automate human interaction out of the process. Thus, saving money and reducing ongoing work.

Let’s take the same grocery experience example. The in-store self checkout is fast, efficient and usually works (I’m looking at you, Kroger).

But it’s not personal and doesn’t strengthen the customer relationship. What a missed opportunity.

If all you want to do is speed up your customer experience, go ahead – personalize it with artificial intelligence.

But just know your customers won’t walk away feeling like they were treated as royalty.

So the question is – Where will the future take us? How can we use technology to add to the customer experience, not kill it?

We’re optimistic. It won’t happen over night. Ironically, it takes awhile for our fast-moving world to adopt big changes like this.

  • 90% of American companies now have a chief customer officer or chief experience officer
  • In 2019 90% of S&P 500 companies filed a corporate social responsibility report, up from 11% in 2011

Companies are humanizing and prioritizing the customer experience again. That’s something we can all celebrate.

If you need help updating your customer experience to be more human and therefore, more sticky, we can help.

Collabo XD has helped institutions and organizations as big as Indiana University and the Red Cross make sweeping change for their end-user.

Ready to get started? Contact us here.



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