While there is no firm and fast roadmap for how companies will emerge from the current economic slowdown, there is a consensus that the situation will produce widespread change in customer behaviors. McKinsey’s recent Rapid Revenue Recovery paper on post-COVID-19 growth postulates that to adapt to broad change, business response will include five core elements. Among them are an enhancement and expansion of digital channels and a rethinking of customer journeys – designing new use cases and customer experiences based on insights from having a deeper understanding of customer values.
To build this deep customer understanding for success in the new environment, companies must eliminate any operational roadblocks that prevent this goal: data siloes that limit an understanding of a customer to a single channel, models unable to accurately predict customer behavior, and stale data that cannot be traced or linked to a customer. These challenges are telltale signs that your organization stands to benefit from a customer data platform (CDP).
These challenges are not new, of course. As customer journeys have become more dynamic and unpredictable, marketers have recognized the operational inefficiencies that stem from the common roadblocks. They expose a customer to ads for an already-purchased item because the point of sale system is not linked to the ad network. They provide product recommendations on an e-commerce site based on week-old data because the system is not integrated with other customer data sources. Or they can’t institute a buy online, pick-up in-store service because the website has no visibility into real-time inventory.
What’s different is the increased level of urgency to solve these challenges in the wake of highly unpredictable and changing customer behaviors. The need for a CDP to address operational inefficiencies and engage with customers in real-time, with real-time data, and with a complete 360-degree view of the customer has never been greater.
Not All CDPs are Created Equal
An inability to collect, unify and use customer data to provide a consistently relevant customer experience in the context of a dynamic customer is a sure sign that a business will benefit from a CDP. It’s incredibly important, though, that a business understands and articulates the use cases they’re trying to solve, because not all CDPs tackle customer data problems the same way.
Having a real-time picture of customer data is a foundational requirement. A CDP that connects all sources of customer without taking the step of providing a real-time, unified customer profile will fail to provide relevant experience at any stage of a customer journey. Take a CDP that relies on batch processing. If a customer shows up at an e-commerce site, and a marketer wants to pull web browsing history to generate a product recommendation – if the history is even a minute old, there’s a good chance a product recommendation will not be relevant to the customer’s current experience.
The same holds true for identity resolution capabilities, where not all are created equal. Basic matching and de-duplication may be sufficient for persona-based marketing, but fall short of being able to recognize an individual customer throughout an omnichannel journey. A CDP vendor may promise identity resolution, in other words, but it’s wise to check under the hood. Online and offline data hygiene, and probabilistic and deterministic advanced identity resolution are important not only to bring all customer data together, but to bring customer data together in a way that gives marketers confidence that they have an accurate, complete, up-to-date picture of an individual customer.
Common Challenges, a Unique Solution
Even before the sudden, massive changes to consumer behaviors, customers were already on record with their expectation that brands know who they are across channels. In a 2019 Harris Poll commissioned by Redpoint, 73 percent of consumers surveyed said that brands struggle to meet their expectation for a personalized experience. Asked to define personalization, 43 percent said it was a brand knowing they are the same customer across all touchpoints, with 42 percent saying it was receiving relevant product recommendations based on recent viewing history.
Any brand or business unable to fulfill these expectations due to limitations for how their martech stack collects, unifies, and prepares customer data will benefit from implementing a CDP that does the difficult things well. The ability to provide a consistently relevant customer experience that drives new revenue depends on it.