In a recent Forbes 2021 predictions column, the No. 1 prediction – for the fifth consecutive year – was that customers will continue to get smarter. They tolerate fewer customer service failures and demand better overall experiences because they know it’s possible. Following close behind as the No. 2 prediction is that customers are becoming increasingly impatient. They want superior experiences now. This impatience is reflected in a Harris Poll survey sponsored Redpoint, where 37 percent of customers said they will stop doing business with any company that fails to provide a personalized customer experience.
Despite a growing consensus that customer expectations for highly personalized experiences are solidifying, many brands are unable or unwilling to deliver on these demands due to the perceived complexity. The costs of complexity, the thinking goes, outweigh the potential lifts from delivering personalized experiences through segment-of-one marketing.
But if we accept that both the complexity and the demands for personalized experiences are here to stay, I would instead argue the opposite. Rather than shy away from complexity in marketing, companies should embrace it because that is where the magic happens.
Customer-Centric Organizations Deliver Results
Even with complexity growing by the day – more devices, more data, more channels, more customer data sources – technology exists that fulfills the promised lift of segment-of-one marketing. The right technology, combined with strategy, process and change management overhauls, make it possible to embrace complexity and realize the benefits of becoming a customer-centric organization.
According to research from Gartner, customer-centric organizations enjoy revenue lifts of 20 percent or more by using transactional, preference and historical customer data, as well as analyzing customer behavior across all devices, analyzing device usage, IoT and sentiment analysis, and first-party, second-party and third-party data across a complete anonymous to known customer record. This is in contrast with “persona-centric” brands that may see a 10 percent revenue lift with a limited personalized engagement strategy that stops at transactional and historical data analysis.
The additional 10 percent lift from becoming a true customer-centric organization far outweigh the temporary costs of facing complexity head-on. This is high-intensity, high-expectation, high-quality interacting with customers, and whether we like it or not it’s the current competitive landscape. Some of the lingering doubt about the merits of squaring away customer data and eliminating siloes (data/process/channels) stems from many vendors jumping into the customer data platform (CDP) arena with empty promises to solve for data complexity, but for the most part over-promise and under-deliver – leading to more siloes and, yes, more complexity.
Solve for Customer Data Complexity with a Single Platform
Satisfying customer expectations for a holistic customer experience precludes data, process and channel siloes because the expectation isn’t just for a personalized experience on every channel, it’s for a seamless experience that spans every interaction with a company. The delivery of a core brand experience transcends marketing.
This is why platforms that integrate customer data might claim the CDP mantle, but solving for customer data complexity demands far more. As the customer-centric approach outlined by Gartner suggests, meeting the modern customer expectations head-on requires engaging with customers with a relevant, personalized experience in the context of a customer’s individual buying journey across all touchpoints. This in turn requires the integration of customer data from any source and of every type, immediately structuring data at ingest and applying advanced identity resolution capabilities to create a true single customer view that is updated in real time.
A digital customer experience platform that also embeds automated machine learning, a real-time decisioning engine and intelligent orchestration capabilities tackles the inherent complexity, giving marketers a single tool with which to meet customers’ lofty expectations for a seamless, personalized customer experience. This is the enterprise-grade technology that is needed to drive new revenue with innovative customer experiences.
CX in Action: Where the Magic Happens
With the right tools and technology in place, facing complexity does not have to be an uphill battle. With the right approach, a simpler higher-fidelity interaction can be achieved by defining a customer-centric strategy around the messages they must receive in a specific order and then delivering those via a real-time engine anywhere the customer appears. Think of having a magic capability to land just the right message whenever a person lands on a website, a mobile app or even email at the moment of open. If you have the right analytics it is actually easy to develop the sequence and the various alternatives that may be relevant based on a customer’s behavior. Then imagine an orchestration tool that lands exactly the right message anywhere the customer engages with a brand. That idea is much simpler than how we think of marketing today – and it is possible today with the right preparation of data, analytics and real-time delivery.
An acceptance that marketing is a mission-critical department with potential to be the top revenue driver for the enterprise will go a long way toward eliminating any doubt that the effort to achieve true segment-of-one marketing with hyper-personalized experiences is worth the time and effort to get there. Technology, strategy, process and change management overhauls may seem daunting, but in the long run they’re a small price to pay to satisfying customer demands for a superior customer experience. The alternative is to have your customers leave for a brand that makes the effort.
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