30 second summary:
- To better understand the customer, brands need to reevaluate and track their interaction with the customer journey
- By understanding high quality customers and their behavior, brands can improve the customer experience and build long-term relationships
- Data and digital transformation are necessary steps to transform the customer experience
- Brands need to focus on developing strong first-party data to ensure they can create a 360-degree view of the customer.
The traditional marketing mix – defined by the four Ps product, price, location and advertising – has given way to the “total customer experience” as the standard according to which big brands are built.
It is created by orchestrating a series of individual, seamlessly integrated interactions that reflect and increase the value of your brand at every point of contact. Throughout the customer journey, the experiences you provide will either help you build a lasting relationship with your customer or destroy one.
Quality customer relationships are unique and complex, but they can be understood and nurtured.
Ultimately, they are built on moments – individual points of contact merge into a series of meaningful experiences that ultimately merge into relationships. This is a simple but powerful truth, and the thoughtful use of data, analysis, and technology can provide an actionable, tangible series of moments that can turn experiences into relationships.
The best brands in the world are bound by a common obsession with the consumer. One of Amazon’s guiding principles is “customer obsession, not competition”. Salesforce has a core value: “We are obsessed with our customers’ success and proud of their accomplishments.”
This kind of obsession can only be achieved through a level of hyper-personalization that follows a blueprint for developing, managing, and deploying a customer-centric approach.
In today’s market it is a critical driver of business success. According to a study by the Temkin Group, customer loyalty increases in direct correlation with a brand’s level of experience.
Brands have immense opportunities to control their own destiny. To be able to use this, they have to directly influence the customer experience in marketing, sales, retail and service.
Brands are more determined than ever to bring together a cohesive 360-degree view of the customer.
But market forces like privacy regulations, the death of third-party cookies, the turning off of the martech room, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and the advent of cloud platforms like Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS) and others lead to a shift in the way marketers approach customer focus.
These forces are driving a move away from reliance on third-party data to the dominance of first-party data and identity. That is where the greatest opportunity lies.
Going forward, organizations will need to fully maximize their first-party data assets through more productive interactions with their customers and prospects, and leverage strategic partnerships to provide third-party data. This requires a data-maximization design and a strong infrastructure based on an enterprise-level identity management function.
There will be big winners and big losers in this endeavor, and the companies that can rule the entire customer experience will have a real competitive advantage manifested in sales, profit margins, growth rates, employee and customer satisfaction, and ultimately shareholder value.
To achieve this competitive advantage, the CMO – and the entire C-suite – must employ certain skills that focus on data transformation, digital transformation, and their own organizational agility.
The formula for transforming the customer experience
While brands are developing strategies to get out of the COVID-driven recession and do justice to a changed consumer, the way into the future is through a transformation of the customer experience. Market leadership is built by implementing a strategy and infrastructure to support it.
The success equation is:
Data transformation + digital transformation = transformation of the customer experience.
The components of this equation are defined as follows:
- Data transformation is the data protection-safe collection, administration, analysis and activation of valuable data that informs customer interactions in real time. Companies need platforms that enable them to work efficiently, effectively and indefinitely with huge amounts of data from first-party providers.
- Digital transformation is the design and delivery of customer experiences that are contextually relevant and personally informed. A core set of technology assets enables a better understanding of each point of the interaction, provides insight into why the customer is engaged, and informs about decisions about how best to serve the relationship at any given time.
- The result Transformation of the customer experience includes innovation that drives differentiation and measurable business results. It requires careful orchestration of different functions within a company, the simultaneous consideration of multiple strategies and adaptation to the pursuit of common goals with a constant customer lens.
This formula can only be achieved with one organizational adaptability This goes beyond traditional media silos and different product or channel-based goals and functions as a connected ecosystem that is fixated on the customer.
From the boardroom to the front, the entire organization must be conditioned in such a way that customer needs are at the center of every decision, every action and every moment. It’s about marketing, sales, retail and service working together to deliver a unified experience.
To seize this opportunity, you need to change the way you interact with customers and understand their needs. It requires the ability to effectively connect data, implement automation, and coordinate internal processes.
Addressing these challenges requires a company-wide buy-in that starts in the C-Suite and extends across the company.
Craig has been on the Merkle leadership team for almost 15 years. In his role as Global CEO, he is responsible for the company’s numerous service lines, including customer relationship management (CRM), corporate technology, data, analysis, performance media, user experience, performance creative, promotion and loyalty solutions, and customer strategy consulting. He oversees more than 9,700 employees in over 50 locations in the Americas, EMEA and APAC.