One of the constant questions on a brand marketer’s mind is, “what do my customers want?” And while the answer is simple, the route to achievement is often more challenging.
Today, customers value their experiences with a brand perhaps above any other attribute such as price or quality. In fact, Cloud Cherry cited data that revealed 69% of customers switch brands due to real or perceived poor service, with quality being cited as the reason by only 13% of respondents. Additionally, Accenture reported 82% of brand switchers believe companies could have retained them with better experiences and more accurate expectations.
The reality is that customers expect brands to respond to their constantly changing, fickle shopping habits with complete seamlessness. In other words, consumers want brands that can integrate customer data to personalize their interactions and provide a continuous, connected journey as they transition from one device to another, and from online to offline and back again. Seamless customer experiences put customers at the center of every interaction, keep them engaged and remove friction from their paths.
Consider a woman shopping for a new chair after a big move, for example. She browses a number of her favorite pieces on her mobile device during her morning commute to work. When she gets home later that evening, she turns on her laptop to make a purchase. When she lands on the retailer’s site, it automatically recognizes her based on her earlier mobile browsing, and immediately shows her the products she already looked at. Not only is she able to then make the purchase online and pick it up in-store, the brand also sends her a customized e-mail with additional product recommendations and discounts.
Brands that are unable to create this type of connected experience run the risk of frustrating customers. In the case of this particular shopper, a poor experience would be one where she is unable to find the products she was browsing through her mobile device. The thing is, brands can’t simply flip a switch to give customers what they want. With their existing technologies, a lot of brands wouldn’t be able to deliver this kind of seamless experience across devices unless the customer was logged in. Consistently seamless experiences don’t happen over night. The good news is that people-based marketing, a discipline marketers leverage to better know their customers and create customized experiences and digital advertising across channels, makes seamless experiences possible. Here’s how:
1. Leverage First-Party Data
There is one necessary ingredient marketers must use to create seamless experiences, which is first-party data. People-based marketing enables brands to collect their first-party customer data and turn it into rich, persistent customer profiles. These profiles are unique to the customer, which means brands are able to see when, where and how their customers shop on an individual basis.
2. Achieve A Single View of the Customer
One of the most important attributes of a truly coherent customer experience is to have a complete view of the customer. Once they have a handle on their first-party data, brands can connect it across channels and devices to better understand their customers and their cross-channel journeys. According to research from Experian, 97% of organizations are looking to achieve a single-view of the customer, but 81% of marketers still struggle to succeed at this mission. People-based marketing allows brands to recognize customer behaviors across touch points and stitch together an experience that is memorable and frictionless no matter how many times shoppers switch devices or channels.
3. Personalize at Scale
Once they achieve a single view of their customers, brands can apply what they know to create customized interactions by pushing data to each channel, optimizing their communications to what each individual cares about. And the efforts will pay off: According to AgileOne, more than 79% of U.S. consumers and 70% of U.K. consumers expect personalized experiences online from the brands they shop with, and more than 50% of consumers in both the U.S. and U.K. expect e-commerce sites to remember their past purchases.
Seamlessness is no longer a perk, but rather, an expectation consumers have of the brands they are most loyal to. In fact, Aspect reported brands that have a consistent, omnichannel strategy achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates than those that do not. Considering this outcome alone, people-based marketing seems like the investment of a lifetime.
Originally published July 29, 2016