What organization—from financial services firms to retailers to healthcare providers—survives without customers? Whether they’re called consumers or patients, retaining existing or acquiring new clients is critical.
That means not taking customers for granted, but rather treating them as individuals who can enjoy personalized experiences during interaction. An estimated $62 billion is lost by U.S. businesses each year following bad customer experiences, according to research from New Vantage Partners. On the other hand, a 10 percent increase in customer retention levels results in a 30 percent increase in perceived company value, reports the Invesp blog.
In its report The Missing Human Connection, Forrester finds that among the nine industries it surveyed, five show that less than 50 percent of customers have a positive view of how companies reward their loyalty.
Looking at the problem, Todd Hinton, VP of Data Management for RedPoint Global—says companies need help transforming their customer experiences through better Data Quality, Data Stewardship, and combing all the pieces of information it has about a customer. That’s the case no matter what channel the person comes through, so that marketing knows who it’s catering to and how it should do it.
“There are so many sources of data” from so many channels, “and how are you going to use it to know all about a customer?” he said. “If that customer came to your website, wouldn’t it be nice to know if that person also went to your retail store, and link that data together?” And extend that to the point where the person receives an email and then responds to that offer, which corresponds to their likes, to get a 10 percent discount the next time they shop on the web. And so on and on….But, what if your data isn’t correct?
Having a single point of control over all data and interactions that can be pulled from various MarTech apps should help in optimizing the overall customer journey, according to Hinton. Dynamism and real-time action can’t be neglected given the massive amounts of data ingested with such frequency, all of which can affect the representation of a customer—even on a minute-by-minute basis.
Acknowledging Omnichannel Customer Experience Issues
A Harris poll survey done in conjunction with RedPoint Global finds that consumers are almost two times more likely than marketers to say brands are struggling to meet customers’ rising expectations for a personalized experience. Despite that disconnect, there is a recognition by marketers that all is not well.
One in five marketers have over 20 customer engagement systems deployed. No wonder, then, that 86 percent say their existing MarTech stack is currently preventing them from managing an omnichannel customer experience.
Reasons cited include that data integrations are costly and labor-intensive and that such integrations generally don’t exist across different systems. Some channels lag the customer cadence in that they are not real time or contextually aware.
Challenges in utilizing individual market solutions as part of a single technology stack exist, too; 61 percent said it is increasingly difficult to manage the number of customer touchpoints they have.
Taking on the Issue
The ability to encompass the capabilities of leveraging data to understand customers in context in a high-velocity data environment with its Customer Data Platform (CDP). This puts Data Stewardship and Data Quality across marketing and customer functions directly in the hands of the people in those functions; they can refine and improve data across all touchpoints and in real time.
Enhancements in the CDP platform inform the company’s Customer Engagement Hub to help organizations better recognize customers. Meanwhile, its Data Management and Data Quality solution takes on the job of normalizing and standardizing customer data and continuously updating customer records, and automatically pushing relevant data into real-time interactions for sending emails, SMS text messages or whatever connection method a company chooses.
Machine learning also needs to be in the picture, remarked Hinton. Such platforms should be running algorithms against data using any set of variables and metrics, automatically adjusting next-best actions as it ingests and analyzes data in real time, according to RedPoint. “Machine learning lets you have more robust Data Management,” Hinton commented, for delivering real-time or near real-time customer experiences for speed, agility, and personalization.
All together, the ability to form a contact graph of all data to generate the single customer view—from physical device data to transactions to social data—is a key feature enterprises need. “It’s an open garden approach, to ingest from all different sources and integrate with all technologies—CRM, databases—and formats,” Hinton said. RedPoint is also on all four different Hadoops out there: They are still highly relevant, too.”
“It’s one thing to bring together data and match it effectively, but it’s another to also react on it in real time, at the speed of the customer,” he said. He noted as an example one of their customers, a large UK retailer that cut its two-week process of gathering and combining customer information, to respond to retail events in five minutes.
From Enterprise to the Mid-Market
Mid-market companies generally haven’t had the same advantage as larger enterprises have had when it comes to making MarTech scale across channels.
To that end, RedPoint has applied its existing capabilities to its Accelerator solutions for retailers, retail banking, and healthcare. It produces a single view of the customer, letting them take advantage of the same capabilities that large organizations have had the funds to use, Hinton said. But it has a strict and standardized data model and templates for these mid-market verticals to follow.
“The customer has to fit these profiles to fit in,” said Hinton. But when they reach the point where they are exceeding volume boundaries, it’s time to step up to its higher-end solutions, he said.
Customer Connections Must Respect Privacy
There are other considerations when it comes to customer relationships. No matter which solution a company uses, it should be conscious of not violating customer trust. Marketers ignore this at their peril: Consumers are far more likely than marketers to emphasize that privacy takes precedence and demands the most attention and urgency, according to the Harris survey.
In particular, that means ensuring that a company will be compliant with key regulations that ensure the privacy of the data their customers have shared with them. And to respect their wishes to not be included, as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act demand for personally identifiable information, or to be able to supply them with information about how they got their information to begin with.
Privacy is a big step for creating personalization. Hinton said that its privacy compliance platform not only provides an interface for customers to make preference requests, but it’s also a closed loop system that routes and validates all change requests to source systems. This provides auditable reporting and evidence of compliance.
All these issues are important to a customer experience strategy, and according to the Harris survey, nearly all marketers (96 percent) foresee their customer experience strategy evolving in the next 12 months. That will happen predominantly by applying additional resources to better understand customer behavior and preferences (49 percent) and embracing new channels for customer interaction (48 percent).
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