At the center of every effective customer experience strategy is a Holistic Customer Profile – also referred to as the Customer Master File. The foundation of every successful customer-centric initiative, it enables organizations to derive a comprehensive understanding of each of their customers, leading to optimal customer engagement.
Three different data sources feed into the Holistic Customer Profile:
Transactional Data – Data on purchases, transactions, returns, etc., coming from websites, mobile apps, ERP and other back-office transactional systems.
CRM Data – Contact information, how often a customer has called the contact center, where a customer opportunity falls within the sales pipeline, responses to marketing campaigns, etc.
Third-Party Data – Demographic and lifestyle data from companies like Acxiom, Experian, and others. All you need is a customer’s email address or telephone number to perform a third-party data overlay.
Data flowing into the Holistic Customer Profile comes from both on-line and off-line sources. Off-line data relates to customer activities that are non-digital and that take place off-line, such as store visits, service appointments, calls to the contact center, etc. On-line data relates to customer activities in the digital realm, like website visits, participation on Social Media forums, or eCommerce purchases.
Offline data, like a call-center complaint, can often give a different impression of a customer relationship than can online data, such as lengthy purchase history. If the Holistic Customer Profile contains only off-line data, or only on-line data, or if it fails to integrate the two, a company can easily come to the wrong conclusions regarding how best to engage with its customers. Identity Resolution tools help integrate off-line and on-line customer data to create a seamless Holistic Customer Profile. They too are a critical component of an integrated customer experience strategy.
Sitting on top of the Holistic Customer Profile is the Big Data Analytics layer. Data analytics tools help companies better understand individual and aggregate customer profiles. Using big data analytics, they can easily sort, stack, segment and understand each customer or customer group. Customer data flows in both directions between the Big Data Analytics layer and the Holistic Customer Profile to continually create a more complete picture of each customer’s preferences and desires.
Developments in Holistic Customer Profiles, Identity Resolution and Big Data Analytics during just the last few years have enabled companies to quickly and easily create an all-inclusive understanding of their customers, so as to continually and optimally engage with them. Together these components form the foundation, but only the foundation, of an effective customer experience strategy.
Customer Engagement Pillars
Customers have become increasingly digital in their interactions with companies and brands. Their digital activities typically fall into one or more of five customer engagement “pillars,” which provide key inputs to a successful Integrated Customer-Centric Strategy.
The Traditional Media, Social Media, eCommerce and Emerging Technologies pillars all impact the fifth customer engagement pillar – Customer Experience. Companies have the ability to listen to the voice of their customers (VOC) using various digital survey tools. Companies can apply Customer Journey mapping to ascertain how customers buy, including the entire range of purchase-related behaviors. Companies can easily see what channels their customers prefer to use, and leverage this insight to pursue Channel Optimization. Each of these activities provides additional insight into customers’ needs and wants. These Customer Experience insights get seamlessly integrated into the customer’s Holistic Customer Profile. Big Data Analytics tools mine these insights, leading to enhanced customer engagement and increased customer satisfaction, advocacy and sales.
Today’s Social Media tools allow a company to listen to what members of Social Media communities are saying about it or its brands. The company can then harvest relevant ‘social insights’ from the various communities, which serve as rich input into the Holistic Customer Profile. Public Communities (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) are open to the public. They are excellent for branding and information-sharing purposes, but they are not a good place for intimate conversations with customers because competitors may be listening in. As a result, private or “branded” communities, sometimes referred to as “invitation-only” communities, are becoming popular, since it is easier to achieve meaningful discussions with invited members in a controlled setting.
The eCommerce pillar includes websites, portals, search engines, shopping carts, next best offer, and more. Using eCommerce tools, a company can capture valuable digital information from each customer/prospect’s eCommerce experience. This data is also fed down through the Big Data Analytics layer into the Holistic Customer Profile. Big data analysis is again applied to better understand each customer’s eCommerce preferences, and the resulting insights are then used to reach back out to customers via other eCommerce activities.
While nobody can deny the growing significance of the digital customer, traditional media still provide valuable customer insight for a successful customer experience strategy. Traditional media include face-to-face meetings, phone conversations, advertising/direct mail, email exchanges, surveys/focus groups and more. Insights from these sources also can be integrated into each customer’s Holistic Customer Profile, allowing your company to conduct Big Data Analysis on the information and develop better customer engagement tactics.
Emerging Technologies comprise a fourth pillar, capable of generating lots of valuable customer insights as customers engage with all kinds of new connected devices. Companies can already learn where and how customers use their mobile apps, what and when they buy, when they abandon a shopping cart, and more. They can now leverage data coming off wearables – what customers are using the devices for, where and when they use them, etc. They can apply Internet of Things (IoT) technology to receive constant information from IoT sensors regarding product usage, and to pro-actively respond to sensor requests. Virtual Reality (VR), personalized video and addressable TV also are great new technologies to better learn about customer preferences and behavior.
In a successful customer experience strategy, all five customer engagement pillars must dynamically share customer insights with each other via the Big Data Analytics, Holistic Customer Profile, and Identity Resolution layers. Customer insights must flow across all pillars to avoid dangerous intra-company silos. For example, a company may leverage insight coming from the Social Media or Emerging Technologies pillars to influence which products/services to offer via the eCommerce pillar, leverage eCommerce customer behaviors to influence activities in the Customer Experience pillar, etc.
The Goal – Improved Customer Acquisition, Retention & Growth
An effective customer experience strategy does not happen overnight. First, companies need to assess where they are with respect to each of the key components. Then, the company puts together a 3 to 5-year roadmap that gets implemented one piece at a time, based on the company’s ability to execute. At the end, each component of an Integrated Customer-Centric Strategy works in harmony with all of the others to achieve the ultimate goal: improved customer acquisition, retention and growth.
ISM creates and implements customer experience strategies for our clients. We offer a 2-hour Executive Briefing. We perform a multi-day Readiness Assessment of a client’s current strategy to determine what is working well and to identify gaps. We work closely with our customers to create prioritized 3 to 5-year Strategy and Implementation Roadmaps. We then provide a range of Implementation Services to help execute identified components on a prioritized basis. As a result of this ‘big-picture’ approach, our customers are able to integrate both on-line and off-line customer data into comprehensive, Holistic Customer Profiles, and all four digital pillars are tightly integrated and fully exploited to drive optimal customer engagement. To learn more about how an ISM customer experience strategy can ready your organization for the future, give us a call.