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Oct 20, 2021

Future-Proof Customer Experience with an Omnichannel CX Platform

When businesses first started taking note of and prioritizing “customer experience,” it was primarily viewed as a marketing initiative. In this sense, experience was largely attached to a channel or touchpoint; experience mattered, as it were, mainly so far as it advanced marketers’ goals to drive revenue though a channel. Just think about the terms “marketing campaign” or “email campaign.” What comes to mind? The customer? Or a brand trying to entice a customer to take a certain action? The problem with attaching customer experience to marketing is that customers do not view a relationship with a brand through the same prism. Rather, to the customer an overall experience spans all stages of doing business with a company, organization or brand. A customer’s perception of a consistent brand value is what defines the relationship. A superlative experience, for the customer, trusts that the experience consistently reflects the brand value in a way that is relevant and meaningful to the customer in the moment.

By accepting that customer experience must be on the customer’s terms, it should become obvious that the logic, rules and personalization aspects for delivering that experience must be centralized around a single view of the customer, and not locked into channels or departments. Think of a traditional car-buying experience. When a customer walks onto a lot after doing extensive online research, how often does the dealership even know about the online activity, let alone use it to create a relevant, personalized experience? Yet even that concept of using a combination of physical and digital channels barely touches a true omnichannel customer experience, because it ignores the fact that the world and customers are changing.

For example, think of what a car driving experience might look like in five or 10 years with more advances in driverless technology. Will we be buying or leasing cars every few years, parking them in garages and maintaining them on our own dime? Or will the experience consist of a manufacturer sending a vehicle to our home every morning to drive us to work, with the entire interior personalized to our unique specifications? Our favorite news station comes over the speakers, our seat is in the right position and a coffee is fixed to our taste – hot during cold weather, iced in the summer, and with pumpkin spice added at the first sign of autumn. A true omnichannel customer experience is irrespective of channel or context. And it’s not future state, it is all possible now.

In any industry where there is a consumer-brand relationship – retail, banking, healthcare, travel – there is an opportunity to engineer a customer experience that is defined, managed and triggered at any point in the enterprise. In a true omnichannel customer experience, every conceivable way a customer interacts with a brand must be consistent with a brand’s values at all times.

A Single View, A Single Experience

By definition, a consistent omnichannel customer experience must be engineered, managed and delivered via a single platform. There are a number of roles required to make this happen – which I will refer to as OCX Imagineers – from marketing to data science to operations and anyone that essentially creates new experiences or has to make them work.  If this work is based on anything less than a full platform it will result in a fractured experience pockmarked with inconsistencies. An omnichannel customer experience platform (OCX) is where OCX Imagineers bring data, insight and action together to design and execute a seamless experience that brooks no data, department or process siloes. Organized around a single view of the customer, the platform is the brain of the central nervous system that triggers a hyper-relevant communication sequence that is always personalized against the single version of truth of the person.

The automotive example clearly illustrates that an OCX is not limited to marketing use cases, although marketing use cases – onboarding, retention, next-best offer, etc. – abound. It also shows that brand interactions transcend product. Products, channels and people change constantly. An omnichannel customer experience platform, because it is controlled by a single brain acting on behalf of a single view of the customer, is positioned to adapt to any change based on real-time signals.

That ability to adapt based on any update to the single view of the customer – and the context surrounding the customer – is the key difference between organizing an experience around a product, a channel or a department vs. organizing it around the customer.

A Consistent Experience & An Omnichannel CX Platform

Redpoint rg1 is architected as an omnichannel customer experience platform-as-a-service. Just as a typical cloud PaaS environment is for developers to build custom applications, rg1 offers CX Imagineers a single platform with all the tools and components that are needed to design, build and execute a brand experience, personalized around a real-time single view of each customer. It is for enterprise brands to deliver customer experiences that bridge into any quickly changing, unpredictable future where brand experience transcends a channel-specific context.

This omnichannel approach advances the concept of a customer data platform (CDP) which has traditionally been defined as a unified customer database accessible to other systems. Accessible for what purpose and in what form, are the next logical questions? An honest accounting of the underlying purpose, and an examination of the capabilities of such a system, will expose the vast difference between the solutions and vendors that play in the CDP space, and an omnichannel experience platform.

How, for example, does the so-called “unified database” handle identity resolution? Is it outsourced using someone else’s reference files (essentially matching to an external key)? If so, that alone renders it useless for meeting the expectation for a consistent and continual experience that transcends channels or context. The reason, of course, is that anyone using the database to design an experience is basing decisions on static data that does not accurately reflect a single view of the customer or data. Worse, there is little confidence in an identity match when there is a financial incentive for whoever is providing the reference file to over-match.

Reference files, pre-existing identity graphs or data spines do not provide the depth of data essential for creating a consistent experience that spans every stage of doing business with a company, in real time. They provide a point-in-time match where keys change with every episodic match, and there is absolutely no longitudinal view of the customer from inception to the complete lifecycle across the brand. Reference files were never intended to provide the enterprise with the essential historical view of how customers change, or how the relationship with the brand changes. And, as we’ve seen, adapting to constant change is perhaps the key element for ensuring consistency of experience that accurately reflects brand value over time.

Advanced Identity Resolution & Value Exchange

The rg1 approach to identity resolution is fundamentally different, and the key to fostering a consumer-brand relationship built on trust. At the heart of the relationship is an exchange of value – the consumer receives a relevant experience across every stage of doing business with an organization. In turn, the business, brand or organization receives first-party data which is then used to enhance the virtuous cycle of data, insight and action that furthers the relationship. The gold standard of identity resolution is to have a customer willingly provide personal data for this exchange of value.

If the underlying purpose of having a unified customer database accessible to other systems is to create a one-off experience for marketers to sell a product via push marketing, then maybe a point-in-time match is acceptable. But that will never create lasting value. This is the reason why the rg1 approach to identity resolution uses persistent keys and in-built probabilistic algorithms using first-party data only to resolve individual identities from multiple sources, correct and standardize the data, accurately define households and use probabilistic methods to transitively improve data quality, define extended relationship groups (grandparent, parents, kids, cousins, etc.) and release all of the trapped value in the data.

With first-party data processing at the point of ingestion, applied immediately to a customer record, the result is supreme confidence that a record consists of the freshest, most accurate and up-to-date data. Users know the record is up-to-date because customers themselves are handing over the data. When customers trust that their data is used in accordance with their stated preferences and to create an omnichannel customer experience, the virtuous cycle continues. Customer validation of their own data is THE Gold Standard for identity resolution, not reference files.

Follow this space to learn more about rg1 core capabilities surrounding data, insight and action that make it the only cloud-native, customer experience platform-as-a-service that supports a consistently personalized experience irrespective of channel or context, and one that is perpetually consistent with a brand’s values.

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