Improving consumer relationships in a virtual world

The end of the handshake as the primary social greeting is the most visible example of how human interactions have been restricted. In the consumer world, these restrictions are manifested through social distancing protocols, in-store capacity limitations, and contactless and cashless engagements, to name a few. And that’s for the consumers who choose to get personally involved. A recent McKinsey digital flight flight survey found expected increases of up to 50% for online purchases of household items, clothing and groceries – a sign that digital-centric online experiences are likely to remain.

However, a transition to digital-first experiences must be done in a way that reinforces the brand promise, rather than eroding the promise as touchpoints change. Even with predominantly digital customer journeys, consumers want to feel a connection to a brand. Below I offer three tips for brands to replicate a “human feeling” of being understood and valued – even as the personalized customer experience is delivered in our mostly virtual world.

Drive intelligent customer interactions with data-driven insights
A shift to online-first interactions doesn’t give brands the freedom to treat every customer equally, a surefire way to dehumanize engagement. Customers, whether online or in-store, still expect a personalized experience. In a recent Dynata survey, 73% of consumers said they would only shop from brands they personally understand.

Replicating the personal understanding of a knowledgeable in-store employee during an online-first customer journey is data-driven. More specifically, it relies on using customer data from all sources and all types – structured, unstructured, semi-structured and from known and unknown customer records – to create a single customer view. A single customer view, backed by advanced identity resolution capabilities, provides brands and marketers with a customer identity graph that includes a continuously updated view of a single customer’s behaviors, preferences, transactions, devices, and IDs.

A single customer view, updated in real-time and combined with real-time decisions, empowers brands to deliver a hyper-relevant, personalized experience that is always aligned with the customer journey.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to deliver sustained relevance in an omnichannel customer journey — but now it’s possible through an advanced, real-time, individual customer view. Interacting with a relevant, personalized experience demonstrates the personal understanding customers expect.

Right channel, right time, always
The ability to deliver personalized CX at the right time on the right channel is essential to moving towards human-centric engagement; Relevance is “practically” impossible without it. Customers are now interacting with brands across a variety of digital channels at all times. A static email offer created from a point in time and made dependent on a customer’s online session may lose relevance immediately after it is sent; A customer might have started a new session, browsed a new page, liked another article, clicked on a new ad, and so on. Today’s always-connected customers are less willing to tolerate fragmented experiences that they don’t recognize as unique. An email offer for a product that you

To design a dynamic, real-time response on any channel, always at the precise moment of customer engagement at the rhythm of the customer journey, we need to break down data, people, or process silos. A single customer view derives its strength in part from being accessible to any customer-facing function. For example, precise relevancy requires a call center to have the same updated individual customer view as an email marketing team or the team responsible for a website recommendation engine. And emails are personalized when the customer opens them, not when they’re sent.

True privacy
Customer demands for personalized CX and a personal understanding of brands do not give brands carte blanche to abuse the trust they have earned. As customers share data in exchange for a personalized experience, the brands they trust are expected to use that data as part of the relationship. In a Harris survey commissioned by Redpoint, consumers ranked privacy as the most important dimension of CX.

More than two-thirds of consumers surveyed said it is at least “very important” for a brand to communicate what information is collected and how it is used, and allow the customer to explicitly authorize and allow how it is used for very specific permissions. Additionally, 88% said it would likely be a deal breaker if a company sold customer data to other companies for marketing/promotional purposes without express permission.

From the customer’s perspective, trust is an integral part of the human-centric experience replicated for an online environment. Regulations like GDPR and CCPA give brands even more incentive to get data protection right, with hefty fines and/or loss of brand reputation as potential repercussions in addition to customer flight. In addition to transparency and data security, brands must be sensitive to personalization limits. A customer providing data in exchange for a personalized CX may cringe when they receive half a dozen or more emails each week, or when a brand confirms they know about an upcoming vacation or new job. Familiarity is not a license to intrude. Just as good fences make great neighbors, a strong relationship depends on respecting mutually understood boundaries.

For many brands, a seemingly permanent transition to online-first engagements is a cause for concern; In-store promotions and friendly employees are proven ways to build a human connection. But with a single customer view and real-time decision making, brands can deliver a better personalized experience across all channels a customer chooses. Accurate relevancy—even without the benefit of a traditional face-to-face encounter—shows a level of personal understanding that customers reward with loyalty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *