By Dennis DeGregor, VP & Head of the Global Experience Data Practice, Verticurl – a WPP Company
When brands provide an outstanding customer experience (CX), they activate higher sales, inspire greater loyalty and emotional connections to the brand, and generate coveted word-of-mouth referrals.
Increasingly, CX is the competitive differentiator that separates flourishing brands from their counterparts. Most companies worldwide are competing based on customer experience (CX) moving forward – with the physical attributes of the products themselves diminishing somewhat in importance across many sectors.
Changing customer expectations – across Gen Z, millennials and younger Gen X – are driving this shift. McKinsey and Company determined that 71 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76 percent are frustrated when they encounter generic material. Time is the new currency, and Digital Natives expect a high exchange of value in return for the time they invest in shopping for and buying the firm’s products and/or services.
Investments to hyper-personalize the CX are now proven to generate high rates of return across revenue and brand KPIs, and personalization has ascended to the CEO’s radar screen as a result. Customers are willing to pay up to a 16 percent premium on products and services accompanied by a compelling, personalized experience. Meanwhile, 63 percent say they would share more data with a company that provides a great experience.
Bad experiences, by contrast, push customers to competitors. One-third of buyers say they will leave a brand they love after a single bad experience. Collectively, more than half of U.S. consumers say brands’ customer experiences need improvement.
Delivering a best-in-class CX is critical – it requires integrating data, analytics and technology to provide in-the-moment personalized experiences that exceed customer expectations. Here are five ways brands can take hyper-personalization to the next level…now.
#1 Know Your Customers Better
To provide an outstanding CX, brands must know and deliver what their customers need at every part of the buyer journey.
However, even as the growth of channels has significantly increased the number of customer interactions, many organizations lack the technology or capacity to leverage their technology to deliver personalized customer experiences.
By collecting the right data during every interaction, brands can develop unique information about prospects and customers, enabling them to deliver the goods, services, experiences, and price points that delight customers. Creating the Single View of Customer, or “Golden Record,” through progressive profiling, is core to delivering high degrees of personalization. Innovation in combining first party, second party, 3rd party, zero party and synthetic data for hyper-personalized targeting is now a requisite core competency for many brands.
#2 Treat Data as a Strategic Asset
In today’s digital-first ecosystem, data is an abundant resource, requiring companies to isolate the data that matters most, converting information into actionable insights.
That’s why companies must develop a strategic data plan to leverage the 20 percent of essential data that informs and inspires 80 percent of the brand’s decisions.
In other words, identify the data that’s predictive and prescriptive for generating timely, relevant, and proactive best actions, leveraging high-value information to enhance personalization across every channel.
#3 Elevate Real-Time Interactions
Taking hyper-personalization to the next level requires real-time, personalized customer interactions.
Brands can achieve this by gathering insights from the data gathered to build the models that inform the customer’s next steps through personalized, real-time, and relevant content.
In this regard, companies have significant room for improvement. One industry report concluded that 44 percent of Gen Z buyers and 43 percent of millennials “expended more effort than expected to complete an interaction.” At the same time, 76 percent of consumers said that personalized communications “was a key factor in prompting their consideration of a brand,” and even more said it made them more likely to complete a purchase.
Time is the new currency. Response rates, conversation rates, and other KPIs related to revenue generation have a half-life, meaning they deteriorate with time. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with customers now with real-time, personalized interactions that delight customers and produce results.
#4 Provide Highly Targeted, Customized Offers
Brands often look backward when making forward-thinking decisions. To take hyper-personalization to the next level, brands need to leverage predictive analytics to quickly identify their customers’ needs, enabling them to proactively provide impactful, on-demand content.
When companies achieve this objective, they can provide highly targeted, customized offers on strategically priced goods and services to drive sales and promote customer loyalty.
What’s more, this content should increase in personalization as brands leverage customer data to deliver continuous high-value content, building every subsequent interaction on previous content accessed by or pushed to the customer.
#5 Use AI Algorithms to Make the Next Contact the Best Contact
AI algorithms are making real-time, hyper-personalization possible, and brands should capitalize on this technology to continue optimizing the customer journey with every subsequent visit.
Today, AI solutions can scrutinize large data sets to create dynamic buyer personas that are critical to connecting with in-session customers, producing content and compelling interactions that keep customers engaged and invested.
While AI isn’t a magic solution for all problems, this powerful technology can help teams take hyper-personalization to the next level, including knowing when to pass the proverbial torch to a human to optimize the client journey.
Putting the Pieces Together
Customer experience is a true brand differentiator and has become a top priority for the majority of brand leaders worldwide.
By integrating the above five capabilities, brands can create hyper-personalized, orchestrated, and future-proofed customer journeys.
Companies face headwinds on many fronts. While they can’t control broad economic trends, they can continuously improve their CX, making their products and services as competitive as possible in a crowded and complicated marketplace, avoiding disruption and excelling in the face of these headwinds.
About the Author
Dennis DeGregor serves as Vice President, Global Experience Data Practice, at Verticurl, a WPP company and part of the Ogilvy Group.
Dennis has an extensive client-side track record with Fortune 500 brands in enterprise CX transformation, data strategy, analytics, and leveraging technology for competitive business advantage.
He has written two books on the subject of enterprise data, strategic AI, and leveraging the global Internet for competitive advantage through data-driven CX transformation: HAILOs: Competing on AI in the Post-Google Era and The Customer-Transparent Enterprise: How Market Leaders are Using 21st Century Customer Transparency to Close the Brand/Customer Gap and Win the Customer Loyalty Wars.