Defining Customer Experience (CX)
Excellent customer experience. It’s the priority goal for any organization who wants to win and retain customers. And it’s a game changer for those that get it right.
At its best, CX is a smooth, omnichannel interaction between a person and a brand; personalized to deliver contextually relevant information to the right person at the right time – about the products and services they want – when and where they want it.
At its worst, a poor customer experience is a clunky interaction, that interrupts the buyer journey. This happens when brands can’t recognize individual customers across channels and meet them where they are in their journey, causes waste in messaging and spend on irrelevant audiences, and ultimately creates a poor relationship – and frustration – for the consumer.
After all, people expect an outstanding customer experience; where a brand recognizes them, their preferences and previous engagements to deliver contextually relevant service and messaging that are meaningful to them. Get your CX right, and loyalty and advocacy will result.
Of course, there are a lot of moving parts to consider to get CX right. Creating a truly seamless experience requires:
- Unified data layer: Having the right (unsiloed) data in the right places, with the right process and strategy to leverage into the right CX solutions.
- Data strategy: Considered as an enterprise-wide view of customer data and ever part of the organization or business process that touches it, to ensure data enhancement and data hygiene are optimized to deliver an outstanding CX.
- The right martech: Having the right, compatible technology stack to leverage that unified data effectively. Requirements will vary depending on the brand, but may include identity resolution solutions, DMPs, CDPs, your CRM and more.
- Ethical data consideration: CCPA, GDPR – Governance and privacy legislation requirements continually evolve; a considered data strategy, supporting seamless CX must account for them.
- Overarching expertise: Inhouse or consultative, having the right team with the right skillset and expertise to manage, analyse and advise on these moving parts is needed to achieve an effective CX approach.
Remember; quality CX is not a plug-in-and-go solution. It’s the result of a healthy data infrastructure, strategy, and technology ecosystem; that together enable the right processes and environment for relevant real-time brand engagement with a customer across all areas.
2 / Thinking Strategically About CX
With many moving parts at play, where should an organization begin, to create a foundation for excellent CX? There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution; different businesses will have different requirements to achieve a quality customer experience.
It may first help to define what a great customer experience strategy looks like, to consider what’s needed for your organization.
A good CX is:
- Personalized. Able to recognize customers as individuals across all touchpoints, and provide relevant, personalized messaging and content accordingly.
- Relevant and timely. Providing customers with the right, personally and contextually relevant messages at the exact moments they need them.
- Effortless/simple from the customer perspective – a seamless and intuitive experience without frustration due to irrelevant messaging/UX, or a lack of personalization.
- Memorable. Provide the right, relevant interactions at the right time and truly help your customers in their buyer journey – and they’ll remember you for next time.
- Consistent. Consistency is key across any and all brand-consumer interactions to reinforce that sense of personalized and relevant recognition to the consumer, and to convey a singular brand perception, however a customer chooses to interact.
Note that CX encompases the entire customer journey from first contact through nurture to a customer – and beyond for quality customer loyalty.
Customer experience is not limited to customer service (typically a single touchpoint interaction with a brand). It is also not the same as a good user experience (UX), although an easy UX of a website, app or otherwise may contribute to a good CX. Customer service and UX are contributors to the larger concept of the CX.
An Effective CX is Data-Driven
Creating a personalized, relevant, timely and consistent customer experience across channels may sound complex.
But the key is to start with data. Unified, enhanced data, leveraged in the right ways, is the key to unlocking the path toward designing and delivering quality customer experiences that drive business impact.
Considerations to create a data-driven customer experience strategy
It’s important to build your data strategy and program from the ground up. This means starting from the customer data level up. After all, you need to know who your customer is first, and identify what you already know about them (and what you don’t) to enhance your data and serve more relevant experiences.
Building a solid data foundation and strategy supports your entire enterprise; enabling the insights needed to make transformational decisions. And to do that, your data, data strategy, data layer, and technology infrastructure need to all start working together.
Strategic considerations to create a data-driven CX experience include:
- Data hygiene. Is your customer data accurate and up to date? Do you need to expand and enhance that data for a clearer picture? Do you have the right data on the right people in the right places?
- Data unification. Siloed, inaccessible data is the enemy of a frictionless CX. Data unification works to remove silos to align and unify data across an organization’s martech and adtech environment;
- Real-time customer recognition, and Iidentity resolution: Today’s customers expect a brand to be able to recognize them in real-time, in the moment, however they choose to engage. Having an identity resolution solution in place to support an organization’s unified data, allows you to recognize a customer across channels for more tailored, relevant and seamless messaging.
- MarTech and AdTech. Do you have the right technology stack in place to manage, support and action your data? Does that technology integrate seamlessly – without siloes – to provide actionable, data-driven insight?
- Create a seamless omnichannel experience. For those looking to improve their CX, there is often a gap between what the Brand perceives the CX to be, and the actual experience customers feel. We live in an age of exponentially increasing touchpoints, technologies and channel options that consumers can choose to engage over. Joining those channels (with unified data and martech) to connect identity and to deliver a seamless customer experience is the challenge – and it’s what consumers today expect; a seamless frictionless experience, where the brand recognizes them uniquely.
3 / Managing Data & Personalization
Especially in uncertain times, customer experience is key to ensure loyalty and confidence; confidence that an organization can recognize and engage with customers as individuals – digital as well as offline, virtual or physical – then understand their needs, drivers and concerns.
Having a data-driven customer experience strategy, supported by the right data and technology, is key to truly knowing your customers and creating a personalized single customer view. Below, we explore exactly which elements to consider to build that data strategy, and unlock the foundations to data-driven, personalized customer experiences.
Ensuring Customer Experience through Uncertainty
In uncertain times, such as we have seen through 2020 in particular, customer habits and behaviors shift dramatically. The pandemic for example, has accelerated people’s digital habits, yet changed fundamental needs and priorities; and shifted how brands and customers engage. As a result, most brands find themselves in the position of needing to get to know their customers all over again. Delivering a strong, data-driven digital customer experience and understanding changing customer needs has never been more critical.
Today it’s essential that brands get data-driven marketing right, to reinforce customer confidence and to retain trust and loyalty through uncertain times.
And achieving that, requires prioritizing a renewed focus on gaining a true understanding of the customer; driven by having the right data, having the data and the technology right, and using everything together in the right way to drive business and customer value.
CX Data Strategy Considerations
With data existing across multiple channels, technologies, departments and partners, where should an organization begin in order to get it right, understand ever-changing customers and deliver experiences that improve confidence and results?
Considerations to ask to build your data strategy, and manage data to create a truly data-driven and personalized customer experience include:
Do I have the right data?
Do you have the right data to understand the ever-changing habits of your customers?
- Do you have enough of your own, owned customer data?
- Are you maximizing the benefits of partner data to enhance your data insights?
- Are you getting the most up-to-date overview of your customers with insights from third-party data, to corroborate and keep your data accurate?
- Do you have the right identity resolution and customer experience management approach, to recognize your customers as individuals across all channels and touchpoints?
Do I have the data right, and the right MarTech and AdTech?
Do you have the data right to trace a person’s journey across touches with your brand?
- Are you struggling to get the most out of your customer data platforms or other technologies?
- Are you able to get a holistic customer understanding across all of your data sources?
- Do you have the right customer data management solution in place to unify your data and identity across all channels so you can be more relevant with your customers today?
- Can you perform measurement and analytics across your unified customer data to quantify how relevant and impactful your campaigns are?
Am I managing the data in an ethical, compliant way to ensure trust and transparency?
Are you managing data in the right way to ensure the trust of your customers?
- Do you have sustainable processes and technology to ensure proper data governance, including line-of-business data access, ethical use of data, security and compliance?
Data, technology, compliance. This trio of considerations forms the foundation for effective, data-driven customer experiences at every turn; that truly recognize the customer as an individual, and works to support them to build trust and loyalty.
Of course achieving this is no small task; here, partnering with a data expert such as Acxiom can help to develop or refresh your data strategy, review technologies and support compliance to ensure actionable, effective data insight and activation.
4 / Visualizing Customer Touchpoints
What considerations should marketers make in order to create a seamless, personalized customer journey, and positive experience at every touchpoint?
There are so many channels available today. It’s important to take a data-driven, multichannel or omnichannel approach that recognises how to engage with an individual, when to interact, and what touchpoints are most relevant. You should also create a journey that accounts for any previous contact, to build that consistent brand experience and interaction at every turn; from your website, to ads, emails, social messaging and more.
Centralize your data
With centralized, unified data insight across the right platforms, you can identify what messaging to serve to which person and when, throughout the customer journey. For example, did someone just visit your website on mobile, look at sneakers and drop off? Then why not serve ads to that person relevant to that product? Or, if that person is already on your mailing list – email them a relevant offer – to create a timely, omnichannel experience.
Equally, if someone just bought from you – don’t retarget them with that same product; doing so will only cause friction and a poor customer experience, plus wasted ad spend!
Don’t just use intuition
Especially in today’s landscape, never just assume you know how to engage with a customer based on intuition or previous experience. Building that data-backed understanding of your customers and their evolving priorities will support the best, insight-driven decisioning and customer experience.
Don’t be ‘creepy’!
Beyond the many different privacy regulations across the US, which can vary, state to state – be sure to engage throughout the customer journey in a helpful way, always staying away from the ‘creepy’. Data must always be used in a transparent manner, ensuring the customer feels in control.
5 / How to Measure The Value Returned
What needs to be considered to measure the value returned for CX?
What customer experience metrics should you consider to assess the success of your initiative?
Because customer experience is an all-encompassing objective that impacts your every interaction with a customer, it’s important to take an omnichannel, multichannel view of attribution.
- Can you recognize and understand who the consumer is across all channels?
- Do you have the right unified data to engage at a truly personalized level, regardless of touchpoint?
- Have you removed silos from your martech and adtech ecosystem to enable real-time, data-informed action?
Remember, your underlying data needs to be right first at a foundational level. Your strategy and experience is only as good as your data!
But with the right data and technology underpinning your approach, it’s possible to create true omnichannel customer experiences that recognize an individual from first to last touch – and beyond – ensuring quality, long-term loyalty and brand support.
Remember, today’s customers expect an outstanding customer experience. Get your CX right, and loyalty and advocacy will result!