Closing the customer experience gap while transforming marketing into a mission-critical enterprise is a matter of both strategy and execution. Marketing must accept that organizing activities around a product line, the calendar, batch and blast processes, or any strategy not directly attuned to the customer will fail to provide a personalized customer experience that provides a direct, fast path to revenue. On the execution front, fragmented systems and siloed data that cloud a single customer view will derail even the best-laid plans for personalization. Eliminating data fragmentation requires a top-down, organizational buy-in that recognizes marketing as the tip of the spear for creating differentiated, personalized customer experiences.
The customer experience gap is the divide between consumers’ growing expectation for personalization and the experience that marketers deliver. According to the 2019 Harris Poll commissioned by RedPoint, 48 percent of US-based marketers surveyed report an “excellent” ability to deliver an exceptional personal experience, while just 22 percent of consumers agree. That’s more than a 2x gap. In rating customer experience, consumers say that marketers fall short in every facet of customer experience – privacy, personalization, cross-channel consistency, and an understanding of the customer as a unique individual.
The survey shows that consumers now consider personalization table stakes; 63 percent say it is now part of the standard service they expect, 53 percent say they expect a brand to know their buying habits and preference, and 37 percent say they will reward personalization with loyalty, making them more likely to purchase from the brand in the future. Alarmingly, 37 percent said they will stop doing business with a brand that fails to offer a personalized customer experience.
One of the biggest hurdles preventing marketers from closing the customer experience gap has been list-based processes, approaches, and decisions that are not designed to deliver segment-of-one personalization. Traditional push-based marketing campaigns that are organized around lists of customers and data simply cannot deliver personalization at scale; by definition, static lists lack the dynamism required to be in synch with an omnichannel customer journey.
By dismissing a list-based approach in favor of rules-based decisions and processes, marketing removes the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of transforming the department into a revenue-driving engine.
Lists are inadequate because customer journeys are dynamic. As the Harris Poll shows, consumers expect personalization at every touchpoint, online and offline. But it’s not enough to personalize a standalone interaction, such as showing a customer who logs onto your website that you know their preferences and purchase history. Meeting consumer expectations for personalization entails presenting the customer with a hyper-personalized, relevant experience at every touchpoint; it’s a recognition not just of what’s transpired from a transactional or even behavioral perspective, but a recognition of how a specific interaction affects the customer journey. Has the logged-in app on a mobile device just broken the geo-fence of a local store? Have the interactions with your brand across email, website, and social touchpoints been connected? Every action taken by a customer in an omnichannel journey should influence a brand’s response to optimize the journey with a relevant, hyper-personalized experience.
Lists do not support a dynamic customer journey because they can never be in support of – or in deference to – the always-on, connected customer. When a marketer creates a list of customers that according to the dataset should receive a piece of direct mail, followed by an email with a discount offer in three days, it allows for no flexibility according to a customer’s unique journey. Further, by ignoring the myriad of possibilities that could potentially occur between outreaches – the customer buys a product in-store, for example – the static process has a strong likelihood of introducing friction into the customer journey by making an offer or an action that is not relevant to the journey at that moment in time.
Rules: Here and Now
Basing decisions and processes on rules that are optimized with automated machine learning models and fine-tuned to always deliver a next-best action ensure that marketing is always in the right context and cadence of a customer journey. In a rules-based campaign that begins with a direct mailing, for example, follow-up actions are dictated not just according to each customer’s response (or lack thereof), but also according to a customer’s behaviors and actions apart from the mailing. Did the customer visit the website or a store? Did she post on social media? Call the call center? The campaign, like the customer journey, is dynamic; the marketer is prepared to offer a next-best action irrespective of a preset determination or expectation of a certain behavior.
Offering a customer a next-best action or recommendation – the perfect offer at the perfect time – requires that a brand has real-time access to a continuously updated golden record, a unified customer profile that includes every source and type of data. This ensures that a brand will always be in cadence with the customer at every stage of a customer journey. The golden record is a foundational requirement for giving marketers the capability to deliver a personalized, relevant next-best action. Arriving at this single customer view requires breaking down all data and operational siloes that have traditionally served product-based (and list-based) marketing efforts. Integrating the martech stack with a single platform that ingests all customer data in real time accomplishes this. Applying in-line analytics with automated machine learning and an intelligent orchestration layer that generates a next-best action gives marketers a single point of control over data, decisions, and interactions that is the key to turning data into revenue with hyper-personalized customer experiences that move the needle for a customer.
Bolstering the Harris Poll survey, 78 percent of consumers in a Marketing Insider Group study said that a personally relevant customer experience ups their purchase intent. Furthermore, Boston Consulting Group estimates a potential revenue increase of up to 10 percent by brands that create personalized experiences by integrating advanced digital technologies and proprietary data for their customers. Abandoning list-based decisions and processes is a critical first step for marketers to reap these potential rewards.