Brands have long recognized that a relevant, personalized customer experience (CX) that is consistent across every channel and touchpoint drives new revenue. The for digital excellence is high and the reason is quite simple: customers tend not to stick around when a brand frustrates them with irrelevant offers, seemingly ignores their preferences, or otherwise fails to treat them as a unique individual.
A 2019 Harris Poll commissioned by Redpoint drives the point home. A majority (63%) of consumers surveyed said that personalization is now part of the standard service they expect.
Asked to identify the types of personalized experiences they crave, 52% said it’s receiving special offers available only to them, and 43% said it is when a brand recognizes they are the same customer across all touchpoints (in-store, mobile app, website, email, social media, call center, etc.)
A seamless digital experience becomes even more important amid the seismic change in consumer behaviors, with the physical in-store experience being overtaken by a digital-first mentality.
Consider, for example, a U.S. Department of Commerce study that showed ecommerce penetration as a percentage of retail sales increasing more just in March and April of this year (from 16% to 27%) than the previous 10 years (from 5.6% to 16%).
I think a recent McKinsey article on the importance of providing a seamless digital experience hits the nail on the head when they write that “the bar for digital excellence, already high before the pandemic, has gone through the roof.”
This coincides with what I’ve been saying and writing as Redpoint’s CSMO for some time; because ambitious marketers understand that providing a customer with a seamless, omnichannel customer journey with relevance and personalization drives revenue, they’ve already begun accelerating digital excellence efforts.
With a head start, they have been better able to weather sudden market disruption and drastically changed consumer behaviors, precisely because they’re keen to the importance of knowing a customer’s behaviors, preferences, transactions, devices, IDs and everything else there is to know about the customer, regardless of channel or touchpoint.
In fact, the pressing need for digital acceleration to provide a seamless omnichannel experience – especially in the current climate – transcends marketing to become a mission-critical enterprise mandate.
Raising the bar means that there can be no daylight or disconnects across a holistic customer experience not just throughout traditional marketing channels, but all interactions – physical and digital, acquisition through service, etc.
We see this, for example, with the surge in curbside pick-up service as a relatively new preferred option for a safe, contactless experience (part of the surging ecommerce sales referenced above).
While there is of course a semblance of the ‘physical’ experience, an outstanding curbside experience requires superior data management across a number of channels and touchpoints that, traditionally, were never integrated. Or, more precisely, they didn’t have to be because a seamless CX didn’t depend on it.
For a customer to order online and arrange a same-day pickup at the nearest location, however, depends on real-time connectivity between many systems and customer data sources.
Are the website product offerings synched with inventory for a specific location? Is the POS system integrated with the store to alert teams to pick and pack the item? Has the customer expressed a preference for an SMS notification that the item is ready for pick-up? Is someone managing the actual pick-up logistics, such as available parking?
Curbside pickup is just one of many examples for how the pandemic has once and for all laid bare the misconception that digital excellence is not worthy of serious attention, or that a customer data platform (CDP) is a niche offering meant for experimentation in a single channel or on a campaign-by-campaign basis.
Organizations that found themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide as customers suddenly disappeared from traditional in-store, physical locations – or flocked to competitors – received a rude awakening.
These companies realized almost immediately the very real urgency to provide a seamless omnichannel experience, and that it is intrinsically tied to revenue. The signs were there pre-pandemic, and are now blinking red.
Fortunately, there is a way forward. Similar to the Wall Street “flight to quality” phenomenon, where investors shift out of risky assets during a financial downturn, the same applies to organizations that realize nothing less than a single, fully integrated solution that brings together all customer data into one digital platform will suffice for providing customers with the personalized, relevant, omnichannel CX they demand.
Organizations want a solution that offers precision, flexibility, and the ability to handle any circumstance or situation that has anything to do with a customer, from simple to complex, touching marketing, customer service, acquisition, operations and everything in between.
Everyone is now fully on board with the realization that there is no shortcut for arriving at a single point of operational control that supports a completely integrated, omnichannel experience – particularly with customers shifting behaviors and moving to more unpredictable, digital-first journeys.
A single point of operational control begins with a Golden Record, a unified customer profile that combines customer data from any source and of every type (first-party, second-party and third-party; structured, semi-structured and unstructured) and is updated in real time.
With a Golden Record, marketers know everything there is to know about a customer – including lifetime behaviors across every conceivable channel.
Knowing everything there is to know about a customer at the precise moment of an engagement supports a unique and compelling customer experience because it will always be relevant and in cadence with their journey.
The dynamic and unpredictable nature of today’s digital-first customer journeys highlight the need for automated machine learning to provide a unique, compelling CX at scale.
Self-trained models optimized to deliver a next-best action to a segment of one are capable of keeping up with a dynamic, omnichannel customer journey in real time.
The always-on, continuously connected customer perceives a relationship with a brand as a holistic experience, which runs counter to a brand’s traditional method of engaging with customers on a channel-by-channel basis.
The sudden change in customer behaviors will expose any gap between the experience a customer expects and what a brand is able to deliver. Anything less than digital excellence – any uneven channel experience – will drive a customer away.
Ambitious marketers know that traditional marketing technologies just aren’t up to the task of providing a hyper-personalized, relevant unified experience throughout an omnichannel journey at scale.
John Nash has spent his career helping businesses grow revenue through the application of advanced technologies, analytics, and business model innovations. As Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Redpoint Global, John is responsible for developing new markets, launch new solutions, building brand awareness, generating pipeline growth, and advancing thought leadership.
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