You don’t need us to tell you how competitively vital customer experience is¹, how consumers would pay more for it², or how many business and marketing leaders now prioritise it³.
But having a vision of a relevant, consistently effective and scalable customer experience is one thing. And actually delivering those experiences to real people out in the wild of the wider marketing ecosystem is another.
The Challenges Blocking Effective Customer Experience Strategies
Ironically, the same things that inspired this compelling vision of customer experience are also the things making it so hard to get right.
Innovation in marketing technology has meant we can automate and analyse more interactions than ever before – but it’s also made your view of the customer far more complex and siloed.
New channels have made it possible to meet prospects and customers in new ways and places – but they’ve also made customer experiences fragmented and inconsistent.
The explosion of new data sources has given us more potential for insight than ever before – but connecting it all remains a non-trivial challenge.
All of which has led to an uncomfortable gap between what marketing leaders know their customer experience should be and what it really is.
The good news, however, is that all these issues can be overcome with data-driven marketing. In fact, it’s fair to say they can only be overcome with a data-driven approach to people-based marketing.
The key lies in understanding the fundamentals of data in customer experience so you can successfully tie all those fragmented data points back to real people – and in understanding the obstacles behind them.
Understanding The Obstacles To Customer Experience Success
Customer experience encompasses every point in the customer journey from the first time someone encounters a brand all the way through to the final purchase – so you’re dealing with multiple touchpoints and ways to engage.
Everyone knows how vital the role of data is in modern marketing – from R&D, through to eCommerce and ad placements. Instead, we’re going to focus on how data can help you make your customer experiences about people, rather than devices or channels.
But before we dive into the details of what you need from your data to successfully recognise, understand and connect with your customers and prospects, it’s worth considering what your customer experience needs to be – and why it isn’t that way today.
Obstacle 1: Customer experience needs to be personally relevant
Different people with different purchase histories, preferences and demographic attributes should be getting different experiences.
But most marketers struggle to tie interactions from different channels and data from different systems back to real people. As a result, all you get is a fragmented understanding of the prospect or customer you’re targeting.
For instance, let’s say you wanted to make sure you don’t retarget your customers with products they’ve already bought. Without a view of their purchase history from your CRM or Point of Sale systems, your retargeting campaigns can’t appropriately personalise their experience.
Obstacle 2: Customer experience needs to be consistent
Whether they’re interacting with your site, your display ads or your email marketing, any given prospect or customer should get treated like the same person.
But in practice, different teams, channels, and platforms only have access to certain fragments of data. As a result, they can only cater to different views of the same person and hope they’re avoiding ‘brand schizophrenia’.
Say you needed to make sure your existing customers didn’t see ‘new customer’ offers. Unless the cookies used by your site and your banner ads tied back to the same ID, your existing customers might see the relevant offer on your site and a new customer offer for ‘10% off’ on a publisher’s site.
That wouldn’t just be bad – it’d defeat the purpose of your on-site targeting.
Obstacle 3: Customer experience needs to be scalable
Relevance and consistency may be the cornerstones of customer experience. But until you can scale your ability to be relevant and consistent across channels, segments, and touchpoints, your job won’t be done.
The trouble is, when only certain teams have access to the right data, only certain customers get the right experience. For instance, some of your marketers might have enough data to retarget basket abandoners.
But the team behind your site may not have the right data to appropriately personalise the home page for unregistered site visitors.
Removing The Obstacles To CX Success
These are exactly the kinds of gaps data-driven marketers need to be able to bridge. Because until we do, the bottom line is that all that investment in new martech, adtech, skills, and channels will still only have had a partial impact on customer experience. And no one wants that to be the case.¹Watermark Consulting customer experience ROI study, 2015²Customer experience impact report, 2011³Customer experience statistics you need to know, 2016