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June 12, 2018

By Megan Curley, VP, Delivery, RAPP San Francisco

Inconsistent customer experiences are frustrating. Have you ever tried to take an action on your phone that a mobile site couldn’t complete? Or been signed into an account on your main computer but logged out of the app? Seventy-five percent of consumers expect a consistent brand experience no matter the device they are on. Lack of continuity can quickly sour an interaction.

At RAPP, we’ve been striving for more than a decade to understand and optimize how customers experience brands. Experience research is gaining considerable momentum because user expectations have risen dramatically. Sites like Amazon now employ advanced features like cart tracking across devices, sign-ins, and other personalization features, prompting users everywhere to ask: “Why can’t every site do this?”

Brands are starting to prioritize customer experience, and with the proliferation of devices and rapid innovation in technology, getting a good grip on data as the underlying driver of optimized experiences is critical. This should arm marketers with new tools to support a deeper orchestration across marketing, sales, and service.

Personalization Is Required, Not Requested
Many brands find improvements in personalization challenging. The volume of data, plethora of technology options, and uniqueness of each customer can make it difficult to identify how and when personalization will impact the customer in the desired way. Technology is often a large and long-term investment. It’s also challenging to get usable data into the hands of decision makers fast enough to be market relevant. Managing multiple tools that are gathering and analyzing information about scores of consumers simultaneously can be inefficient and overwhelming.

Today’s customers want a personalized experience, and they don’t care about your internal challenges. They just want to feel seen and heard by your brand. If you can make consumers the center of everything your company does, then you can better discover the tools needed to create the experiences they demand. This is where customer experience clouds can make a huge difference for established brands.

Both Adobe and Oracle have recently launched products aimed at collecting, analyzing, and using data from all levels of the organization for better customer experiences. For example, Adobe’s Experience Cloud pulls marketing, advertising, user-behavior analytics, customer service, documents, and the sign-in manager together into one uber-cloud of usable, connected information. But what do these highly integrated data personalization products mean for brands?

1. A Better Pitch for C-Suite Buy-In
The benefits of investing in customer experiences can be hard to measure because they almost never result in an immediate increase in sales. Personalization is a long game aimed at keeping current and potential customers engaged and your brand top of mind. But with these new cloud integrations, we can start to measure the impact on each person’s engagement and the effect on eventual purchasing outcomes.

This helps create a stronger pitch for investment in personalization technology to the C-suite. Having specific stories to tell that show multiple touchpoints across marketing, sales, and customer service reinforces that the investment is working. And data sharing across these traditional silos means a more consistent experience can be built with each subsequent interaction, which further reinforces the value.

2. Less Pressure on Marketing and Sales to Handle Every Interaction
Marketing and sales departments are fighting to keep up in such a fast-paced, data-driven world. The additional burden of personalizing every interaction can seem impossible until you realize these technologies can help.

According to Gartner, the majority of customer interactions will not be managed by humans by 2020. This means there is an opportunity to find trusted technologies that can handle the majority of real-time interactions. Most customers have questions about products when making purchasing decisions. Rather than spend your time answering those, task an AI chatbot to handle such interactions (only escalating the unusual to a human).

For this strategy to work, however, IT and marketing have to collaborate to refine and personalize the chatbot messaging. This where customer experience clouds help. Chatbots need the ability to identify and improve common answers and start responding better to emotional intent in messaging. By bringing marketing into an area predominately controlled by IT, a cloud technology can transform a chatbot from a reactive answer-giver to a proactive content-and-offer delivery system.

3. A Closer Relationship With Customers
If used correctly, this technology should make it significantly easier to understand key moments in the buying process for individuals. Marketing is no longer about developing personas and updating them once a year. Connecting questions asked on chats to content interactions can help you understand what customers are thinking about, doing, and struggling with in real time.

The true value comes in moving beyond understanding to action. What are the common issues people are trying to overcome? Where are they hesitating or requesting more information? What can your brand do to deliver tools, information, and helpful content at those key moments? How can you ensure customers feel heard, recognized, and catered to more often?

A cohesive user experience means knowing who the customer is, catering to his specific needs, and not forgetting the information he volunteers to you. That is the true power of customer experience integration tools. Brands can use these new mechanisms to further support and nurture every interaction along the buying journey. Integrated cloud technologies make this possible in a way that is manageable and more tangible, not to mention in real time.

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