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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way consumers live their lives, including how they shop and interact with brands. This shift has required brands to adapt in different ways, like catering to the increase in e-commerce, curbside pickup, or “buy online pick up in-store” (BOPIS) activity. Of course, the businesses that had embraced digital channels previously were better set up for success than others. However, the key to meeting customer expectations during and after the pandemic is not simply having digital capabilities — but executing them with intelligent orchestration across operations, customer service, and marketing.
How a Pandemic Magnified This Brand Mandate
Intelligent orchestration is the consistent delivery of relevant, contextually aware, personalized actions across all customer touchpoints. In layman terms, it’s seizing the right moment of interaction with a customer — giving them what they want — when, where, and how they want it.
To support that uptick in the curbside pickup or BOPIS activity mentioned, intelligent orchestration coordinates online, physical, and mobile channels. It ensures product availability matches inventory at a customer’s given location or coordinates pickup between the customer and a specific store location. It also ensures that an offer for a complimentary product is made on the right device before the customer arrives. To adapt to the sudden surge in e-commerce, intelligent orchestration is the secret sauce behind a brand displaying the right product and making the right offer, accounting for every decision and every behavior the customer makes — up to and including a visit to a specific web page.
We’ve all seen what happens when intelligent orchestration doesn’t happen — and it’s often the root of consumers’ frustration with brands. They receive an irrelevant offer or an offer for a product after they’ve already purchased it. The text alerts about their delivery are inaccurate or delayed. They’re stuck waiting 30 minutes for an order that was supposed to be ready for pickup.
For the brands who are getting it right, this approach of embracing intelligent orchestration has been instrumental in delivering experiences that meet customers’ expectations. And, businesses should have always been doing this. The current climate has only magnified this need so that intelligent orchestration is no longer an option; it’s a customer mandate — and it’s now required for business survival.
Getting Started with Customer Data
Clearly, intelligent orchestration is a foundational requirement to compete on customer experience — especially now. How can brands get started? Orchestrating a customer journey begins with orchestrating customer data. First, brands need to know about each customer — and have an always up-to-date, single view. We call this the Golden Record. Intelligent orchestration needs to be powered by the latest and greatest information about each individual customer — considering a user’s updated preferences, actions, and inactions. This data not only needs to be accessible in one view, but it also must be cleansed, matched, and merged, transporting and feeding it into automated machine learning algorithms. From there, a customer’s propensity to buy, lifetime value, likelihood to churn, and other considerations are calculated and updated in real-time, optimizing a proper flow of data from the source to every orchestration touchpoint.
While several steps are involved, they’re required to guarantee that a customer-facing action is always in concert with the customer in the precise context and cadence of a unique journey. These steps ensure that marketers have the right data at the right time and in the right place. The process automates a next-best-action based on the totality of a customer’s behaviors, preferences, and lifetime transactions — and how they relate to one another at the moment of need.
According to a recent survey we conducted, 59 percent of consumers have revealed that they are not receiving personalized offers from the brands they engage with during COVID-19. Instead of pushing out the right messages at the right time, brands have been guilty of pushing out low-quality messages at all hours of the day — bombarding consumers with emails and ads that leave a sour taste in their mouths. Clearly, brands have been getting intelligent orchestration wrong by missing at least one of these critical steps.
Success Requires Preparation and Planning
To be successful in this new world, brands need to be able to interconnect with every touchpoint they have with customers and easily manage, configure, and execute real-time, personalized decisions across those touchpoints. There is no shortcut to achieving this. If there is no strategy in place that measures the customer experience’s impact on the business, or if the data layer is broken, intelligent orchestration will not be possible. While brands might be eager to secure quick wins, they need to focus on ensuring they have the proper tools and plan in place first. With the right approach, they’ll win over customers now and in the future.