With baseball season finally here after a long winter, our attention at long last returns to the field and the exciting exploits of the “five-tool” players. The description applies to the complete ballplayer, one who excels at baseball’s five primary, distinct skills (hit, hit for power, run, throw, field). Surprisingly, there are not as many five-tool guys as one might think. Baseball is filled with guys who may hit .300 but play only average defense. Or those who can knock the cover off the ball, but are slow as molasses. Those players fill a need, and they excite at times, but there’s a reason why teams look for the rare five-tool player to build a team around.
When speaking with Redpoint prospects, I’m occasionally reminded of the five-tool comparison when these businesses detail some of the issues they’re facing trying to integrate various point solutions for website personalization. They may have half a dozen or more applications, each one filling a niche specialty that together approximate a personalized experience. The problem, however, is that like an underperforming baseball team it’s often the case that a collection of parts fails to gel into a cohesive unit. Some of it can be attributed to functionality overlap; a new tool may do one thing a little bit better than a previous tool, and over time it creates unbalanced excess. A bigger problem, however, is a lack of integration. Time and resources spent trying to get the tools on the same page, if you will, is time away from creating a holistic customer experience. A patchwork of data and process siloes means that one small change in one application may affect every other tool, creating a management headache.
Personalization that Moves the Needle
There is a clear distinction between the personalization that a collection of niche tools delivers, and personalization derived from a single point of operational control. In the case of the former, even with tight coordination between the various tools, their purview is limited to website personalization without consideration to the broader customer journey.
A personalized banner ad or a product recommendation engine, for example, may be updated based on a customer’s behavior on a particular channel, but have no insight into how the customer moves through every other channel.
A single point of operational control through a platform such as rg1, by contrast, is the five-tool player of a personalized customer experience that consistently delivers the level of personalization that drives new revenue. Personalization across channels devoid of friction aligns with the expectations of today’s always-on, connected customers. In a Harris Poll commissioned by Redpoint, not only did 63 percent of customers say that personalization is part of the standard service they expect, but 43 percent defined that standard service as a brand knowing they were the same customer across all touchpoints (in-store, email, mobile, social media, call center, etc.).
Siloed Data Bars Real-Time Capabilities
As a work-around the data and process siloes, some personalization tools may tout APIs that send information to a call center or ESP, but these integrations lack the control needed to provide a differentiated customer experience. A key element that’s missing is real time orchestration, one of the main reasons for having a single point of operational control.
Without it, a brand is essentially making – at best – an educated guess about the best content, message or offer to present to a customer at the moment of interaction. A customer may, for example, post negative product feedback on social media; real-time orchestration ensures that the product recommendation engine will not include that product. Several rg1 customers require millisecond SLAs, guaranteeing the delivery of a next-best action for a customer that is always in the context of the individual customer journey, regardless of channel.
Real-time orchestration differs greatly from what many customer experience platforms deliver when they tout real-time capabilities, but in truth what’s often the case is they may render a real-time decision, but the data the decision is based off is minutes, hours or days old.
Move at the Speed of the Connected Customer
A lack of a true real-time capability is a byproduct of organizations updating their personalization tools and technology on a channel basis, or by operational teams. Siloes, unfortunately, create more siloes and an endless amount of workarounds to integrate the tools will never create data that is fit for purpose to deliver the level of personalization that customers now expect.
The key benefit of having a single point of operational control with rg1 is not only a seamless integration of every type and source of customer data – known and unknown – but also the fact that the data is persistently updated. A real-time decisioning engine, therefore, not only bases its decision off every conceivable piece of customer data – but the data itself is in real time. This is why Redpoint customers trust that an optimal decision at the moment of interaction – even in milliseconds – is based on an entirety of a customer journey quite literally up until that moment.
With a hyper-personalized customer experience likely the difference between winning and losing in the competition for loyal customers in the near future, a customer experience platform represents an investment in long-term, transformational change. Niche solutions – a CRM, an ESP, etc. – play important roles and they’re not going away, but they’re not meant to deliver a consistent customer experience across every touchpoint. A “five-tool” customer experience platform that integrates with various point solutions, on the other hand, is a formula for a winning team over the long haul.