In my previous article I shared the three main challenges that brands face when putting in place a customer experience management (CXM) strategy. Considering the difficulties associated with understanding customer behaviour, the limitations of technology and the lack of executive support for suggested marketing investments needed for developing a successful CXM strategy, it can be tough to see how improvement is possible.
However, here I share four things to help brands tackle these challenges, allowing them to fulfil their potential of improving customer experience and ultimately building brand loyalty.
Make better use of your data
The majority of brands understand that data is an extremely valuable commodity to help deliver a truly personalised customer experience. However, they often struggle to recognise what is the right information to use that will bring the most value to their personalisation efforts. In fact, 40 per cent of global marketers have declared inaccuracy as their biggest pain-point when it comes to data. Many organisations collect vast amounts of data, the majority of which doesn’t provide any valuable insight. Reliable data is the backbone of effective customer experience and personalisation, therefore, it is counter-intuitive for marketers to start personalising without a dataset they can trust. Data can only be improved by being tested, analysed and refined.
Furthermore, approximately 70 per cent of marketers responding to eConsultancy’s Reinventing Commerce study have declared that they are unable to consistently collect data across the entire customer journey, from consideration to purchase and beyond. This is largely because the different datasets are often stored in isolation. Without a complete view of the customer, brands cannot correctly identify their customers or target them with personalised content and services at any given time. This is essential if companies want to upsell, cross sell and keep customers coming back to their website or store.
For example, Sitecore customer Brompton Bikes, the UK’s largest bike manufacturer, enables customers to configure a bike to their exact requirements online, providing information about where their chosen model can be demoed with an expert instore. Customers can also calculate how much they would save from an annual gym membership or from an annual travel card if they invest in a Brompton Bike instead. Being able to track the data that it collects from customers has allowed Brompton to make incremental changes to the content it serves customers, allowing the website to reconfigure at the click of a button, reacting quickly to customer needs.
Good data should be at the heart of every solid marketing decision, giving marketers evidence to base their strategies on with clear insight into customer behaviour. To deliver great experiences, brands need to understand customers in the context of their brand engagement history, whether that’s in-store or across other channels. Insights must come from different types of customer data including implicit, structured, explicit and unstructured, collected at every interaction and in real time.
Recognize content as the king of your CMX strategy
Content is a crucial element of the digital experience ecosystem, so producing and publishing personalised digital content more quickly and cost-effectively should be a key priority for marketers. Yet, many still do not prioritise this as they struggle to generate the huge amounts of content they need to be able to deliver these personalised experiences. In fact, SoDA research found that 74 per cent of global leaders cannot produce the volume and variety of content needed for personalisation, with more than 40 per cent of them considering speed, budget and automation as the top three pain points throttling their ability to develop the vast amount of content needed to personalise to an individual level.
A successful customer experience strategy lies in a marketer’s ability to match the right content with the right customer based on the insight supplied through valuable customer data. Only then can they deliver an end-to-end content strategy that can achieve consistent and continuous personalisation across all channels.
Learn from your mistakes and put benchmarks in place
It is key that brands understand that delivering true personalisation and improving customer experience is an ongoing process and will need experimentation, tweaking and incremental improvements to be made at every stage. Success will not arrive from the first attempt. Every obstacle faced during the beginning of the programme should be perceived as an opportunity to learn. By constantly reviewing and analysing what’s working and what isn’t, marketers can make improvements for the next iteration. Failure is part of all good personalisation strategies, and no one will be 100 per cent accurate from day one. Using the insights gained from what has worked will pay for the percentage that hasn’t and enable companies to adapt their strategies accordingly. Again, data is key to this process - as having the right data on hand and understanding how to use it means that eventually your efforts will be rewarded.
In other cases, brands might not realise they are failing in their personalisation strategies as they do not measure the value it brings to the business or over-estimate their current capabilities. In fact, although 67 per cent of global marketing leaders rate their organisations as “Masters” or “Experts” in personalisation, it turns out that less than 40 per cent use even the most basic criteria for improving personalisation such as purchase history, browsing history and the referral source. Having the right technology in place that helps you measure the value of personalisation is essential, as it allows you to identify the level of success coming from your personalisation programme and links it back to the business ROI.
Automate the personalised experience
Advanced AI technology can help brands scale personalisation in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Using intelligent algorithms not only helps brands to better understand the customer but also makes the job less time intensive for the marketing team. While it is true that AI can remove the manual work associated with data collection and analysis, it is important that brands understand that simply having AI capabilities does not guarantee that they can offer a higher quality of customer experience.
It is great to see that marketing leaders have already started to realise the importance of digital investment, with significant percentage of them admitting to investing the most into Data & Analytics (41 per cent) and Technology Platforms (36 per cent) to fuel their personalisation initiatives. However, 81 per cent of global leaders that are using AI capabilities for personalisation, do so with very limited applications. Being able to spot the right data to use, knowing how to gather useful insights from it, and how to take action to personalise effectively are key requirements to ensure AI works to your advantage.
In order to see significant improvements, companies need to define what customer experience problem they are aiming to solve, which data sets they need to collect and monitor, and how they are going to use the data to remove particular pain-points that customers face. Thinking about all this can be challenging and overwhelming for marketers, but there are experts they can rely on in cases when they do not have the right expertise in house. For example, by working with experts from the planning stage, you will receive the support needed to work out essentials including segmentation planning and customer journey mapping.
To implement a successful CXM strategy, companies need to evolve their processes, methodologies and organisational strategies, learn from their mistakes and optimise the digital experience as new channels and technologies emerge. Taking into consideration these four key steps can certainly help you battle the challenges along the way but having a strategic partner during the process could ultimately help push your personalisation efforts to the finish line more quickly and easily.
Written by Vijayanta Gupta, VP Strategy & Industries, Sitecore and Head of Sitecore Business Optimisation Strategies (SBOS) team.