We live in a world where the customers of today want to engage differently. 'In person' used to rule, then telephone, email and on to SMS. Now, half of today's Millennials want to engage on messaging and social platforms. At the same time expectations are through the roof. Consumers are no longer 'wowed' by a unified experience across channels - they expect it.
This week global retail leaders assembled in Orlando to discuss the huge opportunities that exist in today’s technology enabled world. If you’ve recently read about the demise of retail, don’t believe a word of it. Sure the market has been changed by pure play eCommerce retailers, but the rest of the industry is rallying to bring differentiation through experience. That may be online, mobile, and increasingly, a return to in person interaction. Whichever channel, data and technology offer the opportunity to revolutionize relationships with customers.
The future will bring increasingly personalized interactions, but they must be high quality and potentially enriched with video. Establishing a trusted single customer view becomes essential.
A panel discussion on this area included Mike Chadwick of PointSource, Steve Scardino of Lighthouse, Chris Hall and Mike Griffin of Pitney Bowes. Some key points became clear:
1. Individual Offers for Individual Customers
Just because one of your customers bought a certain product, does not mean a similar looking customer may want that too. It’s a good start, but you have to work harder to create relevance. Many factors affect preference, such as time and location. For example, I love coffee, but I don’t want coffee at 10pm at night when I’m out in a bar with my friends.
2. In the online world, you can build a personalized experience before you know the customer’s name.
Sure if you can encourage your customer to sign in, you can build great profiles. But you can also do some great work in building profiles around a device address. Understanding what pages that device looks at, when, where, it all helps to push relevant offers.
3. The experience is increasingly more important than the product you offer.
Competing on price in a near commodity market is the road to disaster, unless you’re the biggest player in the market. Even if your product is differentiated, that won’t secure your future. The biggest gains are to be had when you can deliver a differentiated experience alongside your offering.
4. Don’t expect international customers to act in the same way as your domestic market.
Building models and understanding customer behavior is important, but don’t expect that to transfer to all countries in the world. For example, Mike Griffin pointed out that consumers outside of the USA have been far more likely to engage post-sale in a bid to get closer to the brand.
5. If you don’t get your data right, you’ll never deliver the best experience.
Delivering an experience that is relevant depends entirely on truly understanding what is valuable to the customer. Don’t make offers to customers based on what you want to sell. Build offer engines that a driven by value.
6. Align with the IT organization to maximum chance of success.
Single customer view is not the job of IT. While IT may own the technology, it’s the business, often Marketing, that need to take ownership for the customer data. When working to establish a single customer view, the IT organization and the business have to work closely from the very start.
This week I have seen the future, and it’s beautiful. Global retailers are working hard, right now, to bring about experiences that are relevant, valuable and differentiated in ways we can only begin to imagine.
Follow the action on the (R)evolution Live site.