Next-Gen Experience Management: Stop Reacting, Start Anticipating
In a rapidly changing retail environment, there's one seemingly obvious constant. A positive experience, whether with a brand, product, service or an employee, forms the foundation of meaningful customer engagement and drives sales. The imperative, therefore, is for companies in all industries to figure out how to create experiences that reflect exactly what their customers and employees want, and to create brand identities with which customers and employees can authentically connect.
The only way to do this is with data. And simply having data isn't enough. Brands must employ powerful experience management tools to collect, analyze and deliver actionable data that allow companies to make better, faster and smarter business decisions.
Experience management tools can be used to improve the entire customer journey, including the customer, product, brand and employee experiences.
The Customer Experience: It’s About More Than Just Price
If price were the only factor driving consumers’ purchase decisions, Amazon.com would be the only game in town. However, we know this isn't the case. There are many other factors that influence the purchase journey, including brand familiarity and loyalty, social influence, brand values, payment flexibility, in-store experiences, and the ability to touch and demo a product.
With consumer purchase decisions still up for grabs, companies can reap enormous benefits if they harness the power of voice-of-consumer data to better understand what's important to consumers, what guides their purchase decisions, and what creates an enjoyable customer journey. The opportunity that still exists, despite Amazon’s dominance, underscores the importance of brands, retailers and service providers collecting, understanding and utilizing customer data. This will help companies understand past purchase decisions, predict future behavior, and tailor customer experiences that foster engagement, establish loyalty, and ultimately drive sales. Decisions that benefit customer experience can include segmentation, targeting, omnichannel strategy, and competitive analysis, plus customer service and support analysis to test the customer incentive and journey. It’s time to let your customers help define the experience they want so you can launch with confidence.
The Product Experience: If You Make it, Will They Come?
In short, not necessarily. The strategy of only using past purchase data to predict future consumer behavior is flawed at best. Historical data are no longer reliable nor relevant. Now more than ever, retailers and brands need to look forward, not backward. Consumers are in a constant state of change, as are their preferences and needs. Something that may have been a must-have for someone last year may be of little to no interest this year. Companies must figure out ways to incorporate voice-of-consumer data into their product development processes to give the consumer what he or she actually wants — now. Putting the customer in the driver’s seat allows for higher success rates, and gives retailers and brands the opportunity to create products and solutions consumers love. Experience management powered by predictive analytics is the key to improving a company’s success rate by creating, selecting and forecasting the right products, at the right prices, in the right quantities, and targeting them to the right consumers.
The Brand Experience: Consumers Know What They Want
Consumers have choices. In order for brands to effectively attract new customers, retain existing ones, establish long-term brand loyalty, and motivate employees, companies must create a holistic brand experience that truly resonates with the consumer and employee at every touchpoint. By connecting with consumers and employees in an authentic way, and creating products and a brand experience that reflect consumers’ and employees’ values and preferences, brands create an immersive experience with which all stakeholders can connect.
Companies can no longer tell consumers what they want. It’s critical to know your customer and understand what they value, how they perceive your brand, and why they would choose your brand instead of a competitor. Companies must proactively anticipate and deliver the brand experience their customers and employees expect. To do this, next-gen experience management tools are essential. Using real-time consumer data and predictive analytics tools, companies are now able to maximize brand value to better design, price, plan and market products, services, and packaging, and even test advertising campaigns and brand logos via social media. This creates a consistent and holistic brand narrative that accurately represents the brand and engages customers and employees.
The Employee Experience: Happy Employees Fuel Growth and Loyalty
A positive customer experience and efficient supply of product inventory and services are two important components to a successful business. However, there is a third, often ignored, piece of the puzzle. Successful companies listen to the voices of their employees. Offering the experience employees want provides companies with several benefits, including gaining key internal perspectives on what they value, enhancing customer service opportunities, and developing authentic experience creators and brand representatives.
Yet while many successful companies recognize the importance of providing a great employee experience, the vast majority admit they have no idea how to meet their employees’ needs. According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Report, 80 percent of executives saw the employee experience as important, yet only 22 percent said they were good at creating such an experience. Smart executives see the need for it, but feel ill-equipped to provide it. Seeking a platform that values the employee relationship as much as it values the customer, and that meaningfully aggregates and analyzes employee inputs, is crucial.
Staying connected to customers and employees in real time, and asking them about their preferences, needs and expectations when it comes to products and experiences, allows companies to harness powerful data that inform critical business decisions. Companies in every industry can now leverage advanced analytics to deliver to customers and employees the experiences they demand. This is the newest generation and future of experience management.
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Jim Shea is chief commercial officer for First Insight, the leading customer-centric merchandising platform used by retailers and brands worldwide. Jim’s role spans all market- and customer-facing functions, including strategy, marketing, product management and business development.
Jim has held CMO and general management roles in multiple industries, including medical devices, research laboratory products, telecommunications and enterprise software. Jim has also been a driving force behind the IPOs of two venture/private equity-backed companies. At First Insight, Jim is excited about the opportunity to transform the retail industry through enabling better product decision making through data and analytics.
Jim holds a MBA from Stanford University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.