own the experience

How would your customers rate your ability to deliver relevant customer experiences? Are you confident your company is meeting the expectations of today’s digitally transformed world? More importantly, are you delivering the experiences your customers want and need?

A recent study from the Economist Intelligence Unit found 86 percent of global CMOs believe they will own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020.

Yet Accenture Interactive and Forrester Consulting found less than half of executive decision makers had taken action around customer experience activities, such as improving analytic capabilities or creating more valuable content.

But what does customer experience mean, and how will marketers know whether they’ve “owned” it?

Ditch the Traditional Campaigns

Owning the customer experience requires companies to put customers at the center … of everything. Companies of all types have access to a plethora of customer data — it’s a matter of using that data in the most impactful ways to deliver personal, relevant customer experiences.

Many marketers today still rely on the traditional tactics of outbound campaign-based marketing for their customer experience strategy.

Despite newer technologies and analytics capabilities, marketers still use campaigns as the impetus for customer communications.

Campaign-based marketing takes time, effort and money, and oftentimes doesn’t garner returns in revenues for dollars spent. More importantly, it can diminish brand perception with customers if your company is spamming them with content and offers that aren’t relevant.   

The chief concern with traditional campaign-based marketing is that it’s based on static, limited customer information such as location and age.

As a result, you’re essentially taking guesses and hoping content will somehow match a good percentage of the people targeted. Rather, you should send content that is relevant and based on customers’ likes and preferences at that moment. This is customer centricity.

Marketers who use a customer-centric approach can see more about their customers — as a whole — and design their programs based on their behaviors, demographics and context. This ensures you’re prepared with offers based on their individual needs and can tell you when customers are most likely to interact with your brand.

The way customers want to interact is no longer through impersonal campaigns, but through more relevant conversations. It’s time for antiquated campaign-based marketing to be surpassed with personal, results-driven interactive customer marketing.

You Have All This Data, Now Use It

Companies have massive amounts of customer data, from socio-demographic to affinities to product preferences to contextual to behavioral.

When marketers have access to all the data that paints true, full-bodied pictures of their customers, they can understand them based off of very precise information.

They learn who is an active or inactive customer, spending habits, churn propensities, who to upsell to, what channels to engage through, timeliness and who is searching for what and when. The key is in the ability to harness this data to improve customer interactions.

Here’s a banking example:

  • Based on [customer] John’s available information (i.e. location, engagement, transactional, CRM, website history, social…), you learn about his favorite places to shop, when he shops there, how much he spends, whether he saves his money, etc. These details arm you with an enormous opportunity to engage with John on a personal and timely basis. You can send John offers such as an applicable savings account, a new interest rate on his credit card, or, if John sometimes shops at a particular store on Tuesday evenings, you, along with your merchant partner, might offer him a coupon that afternoon, to entice him into that store. The benefit to John is that he’s getting offers that are actually relevant to him and that he has a propensity to use.

This is customer centricity and when done right, John’s relationship with your brand increases because he recognizes that you truly understand his needs. 

Businesses used to deliver products based on what they believed a broad swath of customers might like. Now, however, productively utilizing customer data allows marketers to determine what a customer is most interested in and create a personalized experience where relevant content, products and/or services are presented to customers before they even realize they need them.

This customer-centric strategy requires the anticipation of future needs — looking at behavioral patterns, market trends and user experiences for proactive measures to secure a personalized, unique and memorable experience across multiple channels. This, in turn, enables the customer to feel understood and valued and likely to develop a loyalty that will be a good basis for customer retention, upselling and cross selling.

Time and Relevancy Matters

Being relevant is multi-faceted; it covers content, context, timeliness and communication channels, and marketers need to be relevant in all of these buckets to take on interactive and effective customer marketing. When marketing is data-driven and targeted, it will perform much better because it will be aligned — and the message will be appropriate to the customer’s needs.

Imagine receiving an alert each day with a notification such as: “Fifty customers have been identified as possible churners in the next 30 days.” And, even better, “These actions are being taken to retain those customers.” Talk about the power of data and timeliness coming together to make you, the marketer, run your business in the most effective way.

This is how big data can create real business value — by providing finite and actionable insights for marketers that allow them to better serve existing and prospective customers immediately.

Marketers that will succeed need to understand their customers on an individual-level and know all aspects of that customer — behavior, context, interests and preferences — so they can engage with the most relevant content, via the right channel, and at the right time. That’s how marketers will own the customer experience.

Title image "Running" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Sabbian Paine