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The personal experience movement - it's time we built real relationships

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher June 5, 2020
Move aside CX, it's time for PX - personal experiences. No - this isn't about personalization. This is about a big shift from transactions to relationships. But can brands pull it off?


We talk a lot about how important it is to build relationships with our customers; that relationships are the true differentiator. But how well do you really know your customers and the people you are trying to make your customers?

Personal Experience (PX) is a movement that Greg Segall, CEO of Alyce, a gifting platform, wants us to understand and buy into. It's a wild idea - trying to create real bonds with your customers. I mean, it's just crazy, right?

It's not about me; it's about you

I received an invitation to Alyce's virtual event called YOUniverse, and while I wasn't able to attend every session, it's the first day I want to draw your attention to. The first day was filled with sessions that focused on things we would spend our off-work hours on, like cooking, puppet making, arts and crafts, and making cocktails (thank you, Jon Miller, for the great ideas).

The point of the first day? That people have lives outside of work - that 5-9 time when we do things with our family and friends, spend time on our passions (yes, many people like to make puppets - hello Kermit the frog!). Those off-hours interests are a big part of who we are as people, and if you want to build a relationship, knowing your customers on that level goes a long way.

To get a better understanding of what this Personal Experience (PX) movement is all about, I spoke with Segall. He told me that many companies are wasting their budgets sending gifts to prospects. Why? Because salespeople and marketers are thinking about themselves when they send gifts. It's about what they think the person would like, but without really knowing anything about that person.

Segall said we need to flip the dynamic and create an experience with a person. Be more purposeful when selecting gifts to send to a person, or let them choose their gift, or donate to a cause. When a person takes the time to look through the options, they are investing their time to select something that truly reflects them. It helps the salesperson or the marketer get a better understanding of who that person is and opens the door to building a relationship based on something relevant to that person.

Alyce defines PX as

The Personal Experience (P ) approach means transforming as many one-to-many interactions as possible, into one-to-one moments. PX requires a fundamental shift to care about the person behind the persona. The person - with unique interests, passions, and pursuits beyond their 9:00 am to 5:00 pm job titles and corporate logos - lives in the activities they enjoy from 5:00 pm - 9:00 am.

Segall spoke about moving from one-to-many touches to one-to-one moments to create emotional resonance. There are three parts of PX: be relatable, be relevant, and be respectful. 

  • Relatable -  is about what you say, and it requires asking questions and looking for information that gives you insight into the person's 5-9 interests. Segall said that AI helps here by finding publicly available information about a person and suggesting 1-3 top things to send them.
  • Relevant - is focused on the 9-5 and finding the right time to connect. Where is the person in the customer journey? When is the right time to reach out?
  • Respectful - relates to how you connect with a person and recommends that you treat others as you want to be treated.

The best sales reps, said Segall, discover first and pitch later. The idea is that you want to build a rapport with your prospects or customers, get to know them personally, and understand their needs. Once you have that relationship established, then you can offer relevant products and services, and the person trusts what you are offering meets their needs.

PX is not personalization

Creating personal experiences is not the same as personalization, said Segall. Personalization is transaction-based. He explained that personalization relies on building personas using things like demographics, website traffic history, and other data points. You build a persona and then create quasi-personalized experiences. It's not about a person; it's about a segment that person fits into. It doesn't take who the person is into consideration.

PX is about finding ways to get to know the individual and building a personal relationship.

PX is not about Alyce

You might think that Alyce thought up this idea of Personal Experience as a way to promote their platform. I won't deny that it crossed my mind, and I asked Segall if you could do PX without Alyce. 

He said that PX is not Alyce. It's an approach you can follow in every communication channel, whether it's email, video, or something else. The key is that you need to find and create one-to-one moments that allow you to build a relationship with your customer. 

Think about account-based marketing. You are marketing and selling into an account. But in actuality, you are interacting with people within that account. Taking a PX approach means you are focused on building relationships with those people, which, when done well, helps you win the account.

Using technology for the right reasons

Technology has done a lot for marketing and sales, but to some extent, it has made us more impersonal because we rely on it to scale our reach to a bigger group of customers and prospects. We've removed that personal interaction.

Segall told me that we talk about using technology to scale experiences, but that's the wrong approach. We should use technology to scale the intelligence that helps us understand people better. If we use technology for intelligence, we get to know people better, and we improve our ability to figure out which relationships should have our focus. Because in the end, it's still about selling our products and services.

My take

Can every brand step back and build personal experiences? I think they can. But it's a significant shift from the way most work today. PX requires us to shift our focus from the many to the few important ones. It requires us to spend time with the people we want to do business with, to slow down, and get to know people. The smart brands will get here fast. 

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