For years, a prevailing thought was that a great customer experience began at the store. It’s where a brand’s identity took shape, formed by knowledgeable, friendly and experienced associates trained to put the customer first. As commerce moved online, the website was viewed – at least initially – as a complementary experience, its unmatched convenience secondary to its primary role as reinforcing the image honed in-store.
Even though the trend has been gravitating toward an online-first mentality for some time, brands could usually depend on the in-store experience as a fallback, counting on the in-store advantage to potentially make up for a subpar or even run-of-the-mill experience online, over the phone or in other channels.
Amazon and other digital native companies helped turn this notion around by making convenience and exemplary service central to the online experience, but 2020 has completely upended the remaining “store-first” dynamic. More than simply accelerate the online trend, the coronavirus pandemic has for all intents and purposes eliminated the fallback option. With customers expressing a clear preference for contactless experiences and other new methods of engagement, brands recognized that the in-store experience would no longer be the primary touchstone for building trust and loyalty.
An Integrated Business, an Integrated CX
The modern customer experience calls for more than merely transitioning resources to an online-first approach. Rather, it demands that companies completely re-think how they communicate with their customers. Whereas in the past, the in-store experience was the last mile of a largely linear customer journey, today’s dynamic multi-channel journeys require the entire business to coordinate to deliver an integrated experience.
Gone are the days, then, of clearly delineated roles for marketing, sales, service and store operations; revenue growth now depends on enterprise collaboration to deliver a holistic, personalized omnichannel experience. An ad-hoc approach divided by channel or function simply will not work because it does not reflect how customers view their relationship with a brand; anything that separates pre- or post-event engagement from the actual transaction event will be seen as uneven by a customer.
These fragmented siloes are precisely what the Redpoint rgOne platform was engineered to overcome.
CX Outside of a Marketing Realm
Redpoint is currently working with several clients on delivering such holistic experiences that fall outside the boundaries of traditional marketing. A national retail chain is intent on optimizing operational messaging – notifications, pick-up logistics, etc. which involve precise coordination between third parties and ‘right time’ messaging, but have little or nothing to do with acquisition or upsell or moving product. Sending a notification that an order is ready for pick-up, delivered on the customer’s preferred channel, with pertinent information about payment, returns or customer service creates a seamless, positive experience for the customer. Knowing where and when to upsell or market to a customer and when not to is critical for building a relationship with each customer.
A financial services institution similarly wants to manage all aspects of a customer relationship through a single platform; acquisition, marketing, customer service, collections, etc. A key starting point for the program was identifying customers likely to churn, an effort often driven more by customer service than marketing. The initiative entailed tapping into any possible interaction a customer has with the institution (call center interactions, emails, social, transactions, etc.) and mining the totality of engagements for any negative sentiments or steps in a customer’s journey for signs of churn.
Eliminate Daylight Between Channels or Departments
Where traditional customer journey analytics is considered a marketing exercise – analyzing journey steps for the purposes of optimizing future engagements and with an intention of driving sales – this client sought to instead complete the exercise to reduce churn, using the platform to render a next-best action for a customer likeliest to accomplish the objective.
Importantly, while in a financial institution marketing is usually considered the acquisition engine, a next-best action such as an outbound call, a survey or a special offer can be initiated and executed from any part of the organization. The approach considers a seamless customer experience as the overarching objective, which by necessity precludes any daylight between channels or departments. If churn is a KPI, marketing outreach for a new product – to use one example – must coordinate with every part of the organization that touches a customer.
A call center interaction illustrates the need to have a single view of the customer and an integrated experience that transcends the marketing purview. When an inbound call takes place, for a next-best action to be at the fingertips of an agent, the agent must know – in real time – everything there is to know about a customer. The purpose and timing of the call, as part of the customer journey, also influence the calculation for optimizing the customer experience at that moment. The real-time decisioning engine in the rgOne platform will render a next-best action at the moment of engagement laser-focused on delivering a superior customer experience above all, one that is hyper-personalized and relevant to the customer’s journey in the moment of time. A next-best action for one customer may intend to reduce churn, while a next-best action for another may be a special offer meant to increase customer lifetime value.
Innovative Uses Cases Beyond Marketing
Geo-fencing use cases offer another window into how companies are competing on customer experience, often in ways that stand apart from traditional marketing outreach. To be sure, geo-fencing has tremendous marketing potential. In retail, for instance, sending a personalized offer to a customer who breaks a geo-fence is a common use case with an opportunity for significant ROI.
For non-traditional use cases, healthcare offers a blank canvas. A pharmacy with a geo-fencing app could easily alert customers with relevant and timely information about a prescription pick-up, for instance. Healthcare organizations could likewise help patients manage chronic conditions, pushing helpful information to help with disease management. One study from the University of California, San Francisco provided participants with a geofencing app that monitored the frequency and duration of participants’ hospital visits, which triggered a survey for any visit exceeding four hours. The intent of the study was to identify the use of a smartphone and geofencing as a resource for tracking visits and reducing the error of respective reporting, vital for assessing quality of care metrics.
Just like a call center agent delivering a next-best action for a customer, using geofencing outside the bounds of traditional marketing depends on a provider knowing everything there is to know about a patient. Here, the tracking of hospital visits becomes one more important piece of information that combine to form a single view of the healthcare consumer. How a single view is used is less important than what it does, which is empower an organization to deliver a holistic customer experience that transcends channels, processes and departments.
A Single Platform; a Single View
One of the lessons learned of 2020 is that customers crave new experiences that often combine physical and digital channels, curbside pick-up and grocery delivery service among them. The pandemic may have accelerated the trend toward digital-first interactions, but the writing was already on the wall that, as far as customers are concerned, however they choose to engage with a brand is all part of the same experience. Even brands that recognize the need to provide a holistic experience have struggled to break free from fragmented channels, competing department objectives or even a mindset that marketing is the final arbiter of creating and delivering innovative customer experiences.
A unified experience needs to be managed by a single platform that combines a single view of the customer with a real-time decisioning engine that intelligently orchestrates a next-best action. Many customer engagement technology vendors tout an ability to bring together data, insights and personalization, but they fall short of executing on a vision for a holistic omnichannel customer experience at scale because they still think of the software primarily as marketing technology.
rgOne makes a clean break of this narrow mindset. For many Redpoint clients, the digital customer experience platform is the top revenue-producing solution in the organization. That is the power of the single customer view; it is the foundation for providing the seamless customer experience that customers have come to expect. Customers on the receiving end do not think of it as marketing. To them, it’s a relationship. By adopting a similar mindset, organizations will begin to demand a lot more of their marketing technology.