The Customer Journey: 5 Tips for the 5-Minute Service Window
The customer journey as marketers have known it is dead. In the age of omnichannel retail, customers getting from point A to point B is a more fractured experience than ever. The pace of customer expectations means that the window of time to engage, send the right offer or respond to an action is shrinking. However, it’s more than just speed or real time, it’s about RIGHT time — i.e., meeting the customer where they are with what they want.
New technologies that track both digital and physical interactions (beacons, artificial intelligence, geospatial) combined with more traditional metrics (online browsing behaviors) provide marketers with a seemingly infinite dataset to inform context. But without continuous visibility into the actual identity of that singular customer and the ability to act at the right time, this swirl can be rendered useless. With 74 percent of marketers not recognizing customers in real time, according to Acxiom, retailers won't survive without a refocus. Using this new technology, a DIY European retailer did just that. This retailer enabled consumers to place orders online, and within five minutes the data and insights were available to provide additional offers and content when customers went to pick up their orders in-store. This time frame was reduced from weeks to mere minutes, which ultimately had a significant positive impact on customer experience and revenue. Taking note from this retailer's success, I’ve listed the top five tips for marketers to capitalize on this window of time.
1. Gather multiple data sources.
Many enterprises struggle with data integration due to the number of siloed systems and data stores. The redundancy across systems, and incomplete data, results in companies using only a small fraction of available data for personalization. Without access to the various data sources scattered throughout an enterprise, companies lack cohesion to intelligently orchestrate omnichannel customer engagement. Companies must create integrated customer profiles available across all channels and devices using connected data. This connected data includes all data integrated from every source and structure, and is linked from all touchpoints throughout the enterprise. With ever-increasing customer expectations, companies that adopt a customer data platform (CDP), which handles data quality and data integration by creating a single point of control across hybrid data environments, will ultimately provide the most relevant messaging and seamless engagements for the customer across all digital and physical channels.
2. Analyze customer data and make predictions about behavior.
Traditional analytics solutions remain difficult to integrate into customer journeys, particularly when it comes to dynamic engagement when they may require assistance. It’s important that companies shift their focus from understanding what has happened to a customer to why something has happened to a customer. Enterprises that can work across big data/Hadoop and traditional environments to integrate data and effortlessly migrate from data flow design to production at scale will more easily and quickly realize the full potential of predictive analytics in understanding the why. As the quality and availability of an enterprise’s data increases, the insights gained through predictive analytics can be used to extract features from data and build models that can predict future events, which will ultimately be the key in determining the success of their brand.
3. Act on data in real time.
Real-time decision making based on real-time data analytics leads to improved customer response, higher conversions and increased revenue. This requires companies to put data into action at a pace that matches the speed of the customer. Companies can implement this through the combination of advanced analytics, machine learning, robust analytic models and decision management strategies to automate individualized interactions in digital channels on a massive scale. Ultimately, organizations that design and implement these real-time strategies will be able to deliver a consistent brand experience every time, at the right moment, to every customer.
4. Create a golden record.
Marketers have traditionally grouped their customers and prospects into several different segments based on demographics, psychographics, purchase history and other meaningful variables. These segments are then used to determine targeted communications and offers. However, customer expectations are growing, and today they expect to be treated in a unique, individualized manner. To meet these expectations, companies must have the ability to analyze relevant data and respond in real time to incidents as they unfold for the buyer. The solution for enterprises is to adopt a CDP that provides a continuously processing record that enables an up-to-date and complete view of a customer across every interaction over their entire life cycle. CDPs enable a company to develop well-constructed communications that span departments, channels and devices, which can be tailored to individual customers and engage with them at key moments throughout their journeys.
5. Unify the customer experience.
Companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement report an 89 percent customer retention rating, compared to 39 percent in companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.
Enterprises must engage their customers and prospects across the full spectrum of channels. From the customer's perspective, their transaction data should be available at any interaction touchpoint with the company. The value of intelligent orchestration is in providing a system of record, with workflow and approval, that can see a campaign or communication conflict before it happens and avoid the negative consequences that it may cause with a customer.
Patrick Tripp is vice president of product strategy at RedPoint Global, a company that creates enterprise data management and customer engagement solutions.
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