Cadence of the Customer and the Corner Store Experience

TJ Prebil | March 13, 2020

Henry Ford’s famous quote about customers being allowed to have a car painted any color they want as long as it’s black describes some marketers’ approach toward personalization. For this type of marketer, every customer can have a personalized customer experience – as long as it’s an ad on Facebook, a direct mail piece sent three days after an email, or a discount offer on an item viewed on the website.

A one-size-fits-all campaign with a personalized touch, however, does not meet the modern standard for a revenue-driving, personalized customer journey. The reason adding a personalized touch based on a list of customers falls short of the standard is that it does not account for the unique cadence of a customer journey.

Recognizing the cadence of the customer is the key factor in delivering the level of personalization customers expect. An analogy can be made to a proprietor of a mom-and-pop corner store greeting every customer by name. Yes, it’s personalizing the customer experience. Introducing cadence, though, is when the astute business owner personalizes the journey in accordance with each customer’s unique interaction preferences, beyond how often they frequent the store and their regular purchases.

One customer may ask questions about every product she pulls from the shelves. One may prefer to dart in and out without making small talk. Another likes to call ahead and asks that an item be set aside.

Cadence is more than the pace at which a customer moves from discovery to purchase, or channel preference, it’s a deep understanding of how a customer engages with a brand. Data-driven marketers with a golden record – a single customer view that tells them everything there is to know about a customer – will know how an individual customer responds to personalization. They will know the optimal engagement frequency. They will know that providing relevance to a customer’s experience means different levels and types of personalization.

Delivering a personalized customer experience in the cadence of the customer is the secret to driving revenue. Consider the 2019 Harris Poll commissioned by Redpoint, where 63 percent of customers said that personalization is now a standard expectation. Asked to define what personalization means to them, 43 percent said it was a brand recognizing them as the same customer across all touchpoints – with an equal number saying that it means they, the customer, control how, when, where, and why the brand interacts with them. That, in a nutshell, is cadence.

Moving Toward Customer-Centricity

Like the famous quote from author Stephen Covey, “most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply,” delivering the corner store experience is about empathy. It’s about paying close attention to what every interaction with a customer says about their preferences – and shaping a proactive response that tells the customer that you know who they are.   List-based marketing campaigns are wholly inadequate in meeting this expectation because they are tied to an action irrespective of a non-linear journey. Lists are incapable of recognizing cadence.

In contrast, a rules-based campaign where the rules are orchestrated in accordance with a unique journey is akin to a corner store proprietor knowing precisely how to interact with each customer, however the customer chooses to guide the journey.

A rules-based campaign draws its power from a persistently updated golden record that ingests customer data of every type, and from every source. Because rules are updated in accordance with a golden record, they will always reflect the optimal response (or lack of a response) to a customer’s absolute latest preference, behavior, or action – ensuring that every inbound or outbound interaction is exactly in step with a customer journey, irrespective of channel.

Providing an exceptional customer experience at scale requires automated machine learning with self-training models that are based on current data. In-line analytics – without channel constraints – generate a next-best action specific to a unique customer journey. Embedded intelligence produces relevant engagements at any stage of a journey, and is the key to producing significant revenue lift.

Incorporating the cadence of the customer into marketing strategy aligns with what Gartner calls a “customer-centric” approach, versus a “persona-centric” approach. The difference is that customer-centricity recognizes an entirety of behaviors and actions across an entire anonymous-to-known journey, rather than basing a strategy on historical or transactional data or aligning it on a channel basis. According to Gartner, a customer-centric approach produces a revenue lift of up to 20 percent, roughly double that of a persona-centric approach.

Do You Really Know Your Customer?

There is a general appreciation that personalization is an effective marketing strategy for engaging with a customer. But personalization for personalization’s sake is not the same as delivering a truly relevant customer experience where a brand shows that it recognizes a customer as an individual.

A recent Domino’s Pizza ad is an example of how well-placed intentions can fall short. The brand uses the Norm Peterson character from “Cheers” (the iconic “Norm!” greeting) to promote its name recognition pick-up service. Customers who order online are asked to check-in on the mobile app when they approach, and staff members are alerted to prepare the order for hand-off – and greet the customer by name.

Because a customer opts-in, there is no risk of introducing friction into the experience by welcoming a customer who would rather remain anonymous. But what about a customer who checks in and for whatever reason doesn’t immediately enter the store. Will the person be greeted by the wrong name – perhaps mistakenly addressed as the next person who checked-in using the app? What if customer uses the app to check-in, then sends her teenage son to run in to pick up the order? Or there’s an order mix-up with customers who share the first name?

The example illustrates a persona-centric approach rather than the differentiated customer-centric approach that truly drives revenue. Delivering a hyper-personalized customer experience in perfect synch with the cadence of the customer tips the scale to the latter.

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TJ Prebil
TJ Prebil

TJ Prebil is the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Redpoint. He and his team oversee messaging and positioning tasks related to Redpoint's customer optimization and engagement solutions. Connect with TJ on LinkedIn https://linkedin.com/in/tjprebil and Twitter https://twitter.com/tjprebil.