People often use the words personalization and customization interchangeably. But there is a subtle difference between the two that can have a great impact on our lives.
Customization is explicitly stating your interests and preferences with whom you are interacting, from the barrista at Starbucks to your favorite web app to your favorite music service.
On the other hand, personalization is implicit and it just happens. You don't have to ask the web app to change something to your liking - it's already there when you arrive. Personalization is the "Aha!" moment you experience when everything is just right from the start, without much thought from you going into making it just right.
Customization is when you buy music on iTunes to play them on your iPhone. Personalization is when you stream Pandora on your iPhone and Pandora implicitly create a profile of your music tastes based on the artists and songs you have searched for.
Customization is when you get in the shower and spend two minutes in alternating cold and hot water trying to find just the right temperature. Personalization is when you get in the shower and the water turns on exactly at the right temperature you need it.
Customization is when get in the car and change your radio settings from your wife's collection of radio stations to yours. Personalization is when the car senses that it's you and not your wife and switches to the radio station settings you love.
Customization is a feature that you have to put work into getting just right. Personalization is just there.
Personalization aims to create that strong user experience both on and offline by anticipating the users needs. Try personalizing an experience today, be it an email, live chat, coupon, or more and see how it works--your customers will thank you for it!
Special thanks to the Vinay Mohanty and Devesh Jagatram's study for inspiring this post.