United Airlines is coming face to face with one of the major problems of deep personalization—it’s creepy as hell. The airline is developing a new app. In doing so, it’s reportedly trying to balance personal service with invasive nightmare scenarios where a gate-check agent takes a look at your United profile and wishes your grandma good luck on her hip replacement operation or something.
Linda Jojo, executive vice president of technology and chief digital officer at United Airlines, spoke at the Skift Tech Forum on Tuesday about how the company is trying to walk the line between the personalized and the creepy. “We’re actually trying to arm our employees with information about who is seated in 7C so that our flight attendants can have a better way of interacting with them,” Jojo said, according to Skift. “But the reality is that the line between personalized and creepy is different for different people. Do you like it when we come up and wish you a happy birthday? We’re trying to figure out where does that line fall.”
While United (and most companies) want data on their customers, they also don’t want to alienate anyone by revealing that they know too much about them. Luckily, customers tend to be creatures of habit, even when a brand creeps them out a little. A recent survey revealed that while 75% of consumers find personalized brand experiences at least somewhat creepy, almost half said they do absolutely nothing about it. So if United starts offering you cheap plane tickets to your middle school reunion, you only have your own apathy to blame.