Maximising the Customer User Experience

15 July 2015

The generic marketing promotion has been consigned to history. With customers now demanding that every brand interaction is immediately useful, relevant and personal, regardless of the channel, digital marketers are steadily redefining the rules of their profession.

While “brand awareness” and “customer loyalty” remain relevant, they must go further to boost engagement across the Web, mobile and store, monitoring behaviour and acting on the digital trail customers leave behind.

Although marketing remains the first line of customer conversation, customers are in full charge of the brand dialogue. They communicate their intent, needs and preferences, both online and off – and online marketers must listen and adapt. Offering a promotion for a product customers already own or have little interest in suggests at best that they know very little about their customers – and at worst, that they just don’t care.

“Marketing’s new role is to collect information, relay it across all channels and analyse it, in real-time, to anticipate customers’ ever-shifting needs and desires. Failing to offer this experience can lead to irrelevance”. Paul Greenberg, managing principal at the 56 Group LLC and author of CRM at the Speed of Light.

The changing nature of their business requires that marketers transform their processes, culture and technology – the very foundation on which the discipline has historically relied. But according to a joint report by the Harvard Business Review and SAP research*, although technology has become increasingly integral to marketing success, only a minority of marketers generate the desired value from their investment in technology.

The new marketing role can only be performed by building a technology foundation that can track and analyse all customer activities throughout the customer journey; enable real-time interactions, anticipate needs and relay information across all channels, to ensure that customer interactions are relevant and personalised. There are three crucial steps to achieving this:

Step one: Consolidate your customer data for a unified customer view from a single place: The goal is to have a singular view of all traditional and non-traditional customer data, alongside unstructured data sources, including email responses, text forms, call centre recordings and data from social media and third-party data providers.

By combining the data from your customer database with data from mobile and social channels you’ll achieve this consolidated view. Social media data will also provide the context for why the customer is behaving the way he or she is, as well as a better understanding of the motivations behind the behaviour.

Step two: Leverage powerful, advanced analytics to mine this data and gain valuable Big Data insights. The key is integrating and making sense of all the information associated with the customer (including social, mobile and transactional data), and then predicting what that person will want or need next. These insights allow you to make tailored offers that more accurately reflect the customer profile.

Step three: Now make these insights available in real time across the entire business – to those beyond the sales, service and marketing environment to include those in finance, billing, product development, quality control and the product returns department. This empowers the organisation to work together in ensuring the business starts with the customer and works backwards from there.

Fit for purpose

With elements such as data cleansing, differing global data metrics, speed of interaction and the demand for measurable return on marketing investments, marketers can no longer isolate social media listening, email, mobile apps or other individual activities. Instead, a foundation for next-generation marketing must be created at a strategic level. No organisation can call itself customer-centric until it takes a holistic view on how the customer is served.

This next-generation marketing must allow engagement with customers on their own terms, paying close attention to their desires, needs and preferences, and acting on them when the time is right. According to a recent CMO Council report*2, this is a formula for success, with 42 per cent of respondents reporting a revenue increase as a result of a greater focus on customer engagement.

To capitalise, marketers must build an integrated marketing platform that supports the personalised, relevant and timely interactions needed to deliver engaging customer experiences. This requires a deep understanding of the customer, but armed with these insights, marketers can orchestrate more valuable customer experiences, which provide the usefulness, relevance and consistency that customers demand.

The technology advances to handle this level of functionality in terms of the software tools, in-memory technology and cheaper / faster processing and storage, have moved in keeping with advances in online and smart device consumer technology. Whilst the business application has lagged behind its customer facing counterpart, this won’t be the case for long.

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