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Transforming to Customer Intelligent Marketing Part One: Evolving Customer Expectations

By Dan Ewing

Evolving customer expectations means changing your business now! Here is how to accelerate your transformation with new data & intelligence technology.

Rapidly evolving technology and the effect of the mobile internet on daily lives have had a pretty deep impact on customers. Customers have developed new habits of exploring, discovering, connecting, and buying on the go.

Customers are ordering and having food delivered, consuming music, podcasts and TV on demand, buying products and services online, etc.

All in real-time. In any order. On a whim.

Personalized Customer Experiences lead to Continuous Growth & Cost Improvements:

  • Lift Revenues annually by 5-15%
  • Increase Marketing Efficiency 10-30%
  • Reduce Acquisition costs up to 50%

(*Source: “A Technology Blueprint for Personalization at Scale” by Sean Flavin and Jason Heller – McKinsey Article May 2019)

Today, the experience a brand provides its customer within this moment of engagement is now more important than the actual product or service being delivered. Companies who will thrive will embrace the view that experience is more important than the product itself, that journeys are not linear and switch moment to moment, and that customers are the real innovators as they experiment fearlessly with your products and services and expect you to respond.

Transforming Your Customer Experience

While marketers understand the customer’s expectations of a personalized experience, most marketers struggle to ingest the amount of available customer data and have even bigger challenges acting on that data.

Most marketers are segmenting and personalizing using about five customer attributes. The result is that every customer is treated the same and the brand experience is unremarkable. Think about buying a suit that comes in three sizes – small, medium and large.

Consumers will only know that these brands “exist.” They see it, maybe they try it and form some early opinion about it, but that’s it. Much like meeting a new person at a party, customers quickly loose interest and leave in search of a brand that offers a more meaningful relationship. To the customer—at best, they know that your brand exists.

Consumers will only know that these brands “exist.” They see it, maybe they try it and form some early opinion about it, but that’s it. Customers quickly lose interest and leave in search of a brand that offers a more meaningful relationship. To the customer—at best, they know that your brand exists.

The top 10% of marketers are using about 20 customer attributes to segment and personalize the marketing message. However, classifying customers using this relatively small number of attributes does not provide an accurate and personal view of the customer, and the human connection can fall flat.

For the top 10%, there is a chance for a customer relationship to develop. Consumers begin to attach deeper meaning or think about the brand in certain ways. Loyalty may be fragile, but is beginning to develop.

The top 1% of marketers are fanatical about data and customer attributes to always strive to make the “human” connection magical. In addition to capturing customer engagement and interaction data, the top 1% of marketers are using identity resolution to accurately connect purchase, service, lifestyle and life-stage data to increase the number of useable customer attributes. The top 1% of marketers use 100s of customer attributes. While these marketers start with segments similar to the data-driven marketer, they can enhance their use with advanced decisioning tools and predictive models to produce even more personalized human-connection messages.

For the top 1%, customers might incorporate a business or a product into a part of their lives, or think of the brand as something that shapes or defines them, that it is tailored to exactly fit them, the customer.

The World’s Best Marketers are always increasing the use of customer attributes to continuously delight their customers in new ways. For the world’s best—very few companies (or people!) are able to take the relationship beyond that, the brand is indispensable and would be forgiven no matter what happens. To customers, these brands are their first and only choice.

These World-Best class marketers use 1000s of attributes per customer in their decisioning tools and delivery systems to deliver exceptional experience with massive and intelligent data. These marketers orchestrate marketing messages to produce contextual and nuanced communications that deliver exceptional customer experiences in a seamless and highly relevant context across advertising, marketing, commerce, loyalty, service and support. Customers develop strong feelings based on their experience and will actively defend and promote your brand. This is the tailored suit, but now customized with personal accessories to deliver a unique experience.

Thus, the biggest predictor of success in customer experience is the number of customer attributes used intelligently to deliver exceptional customer experience!

Your job as a brand is to accelerate the use of attributes to be able to thrive and win in your designated industry.

What Success Looks Like

Sofia is a frequent traveler and has a membership at an airport VIP lounge. Since her flight to San Francisco is delayed, she decides to spend the time waiting in the lounge. She walks into the lounge and scans her membership card. The concierge sees that Sofia’s flight has been significantly delayed. Luckily, the system has a new flight option for Sofia and the concierge locks it in. Unfortunately, Sofia has two more hours to spend in the lounge before taking the alternate flight, so she grabs a drink. Within two minutes, she receives a message from her mobile app with a choice for two discounted offers from the airline to make up for the delay. She can choose from preferred entry to see the Mapplethorpe exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or tickets to Yoshi’s to see the Pat Metheny Group’s sold-out small venue show. Sofia picks the tickets to see Pat Metheny and her trip just got a whole lot better.

How did this all work? The airline has a deep knowledge of Sophia’s current activities, personal interests and passions enabling them to craft an exceptional and very human customer experience:

  • Signals included the flight delay, Sofia’s entry to the VIP lounge and the re-booking on an alternate flight.

  • Key attributes considered in the decisioning included Sofia’s airline status, VIP club membership, the determination that she was traveling for pleasure, her preferred channel for communication, an interest in jazz fusion (based on previous purchases on airline credit card), and her membership in multiple art museums.

  • Delivery actions that changed the negative experience of a flight delay into an exceptional experience included booking Sofia on the best alternate flight, confirming the seat assignment and offering a choice of two highly relevant offers.

Consider how many customer attributes you are really using in your marketing efforts and the customer experience you are creating. If you are using about five attributes, you are certainly not alone. Can your business transform to provide exceptional customer experiences? Look for my next blog post on developing your transformation action plan to learn more.

Personalization these days means marketing to customers as if they are a segment of one. Find out what that means by reading “Segment of One: A Glimpse into the Future of Digital Marketing.”

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