In the 10-plus years since companies first set out on their digital transformation journeys, many advancements have enabled them to build new applications, collect more data and streamline operations.
But one of the things we’ve learned about our clients’ journeys is that the benefits of digital transformation often pay off in silos—which is not how consumers experience brands. The brands that will win in the future are breaking down these silos by pivoting away from disconnected, technology-enabled platforms and systems, toward technology-driven experiences.
With consumers busier and more distracted than ever, any communication with them better be relevant, valuable and easy to understand and accomplish. That means meeting consumers where they are. To do that, brands need a continuous interaction model that drives the customer experience and personalizes the customer journey to the outcome the customer is trying to achieve.
Personalization: more important than ever
According to a 2022 study, 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that provides a tailored experience. Rising customer expectations have made it clear that personalization is no longer just a digital transformation talking point. It’s table stakes for competitive customer experiences and long-term loyalty.
For many companies, though, personalizing the customer journey is much easier said than done—especially across the multiple channels through which customers interact with the world. In order to create seamless, curated touchpoints, businesses need to surface and unify data from thousands (or millions) of sources. They need real-time insights to inform every stage of their modern customer journeys.
New platforms, designed to ingest data and provide a real-time, comprehensive view of customer behavior, are emerging. The Salesforce Data Cloud, for example, unifies all of a company’s customer data across channels and interactions into single, real-time customer profiles, enabling companies to create personalized customer experiences.
When businesses understand all the ways customers interact with them in real time, they can deliver relevant offers and resonant messages on the right platform at the right moment.
Data cloud or data swamp?
Many enterprises are not positioned to take advantage of this kind of tool, however, because of the state of their platforms and data. Too often, businesses have disparate data located in silos, and are unable to impactfully synthesize or analyze it. This could include data points like point-of-sale transactions, web clicks, interactions with online ads and marketing emails, and more touchpoints across the physical and digital spheres.
The data, while it exists, is not primed to allow businesses to react to it with agility and flexibility as customer behavior changes. A report by Harvard Business Review notes that 78% of business leaders struggle to ingest data quickly enough to make decisions in real time.
Building a continuous interaction model of the customer journey starts with the ability to capture the right set of customer attributes on an ongoing basis, and then unify that data from thousands of disparate sources to better understand customer touchpoints.
To create a continuous interaction model, businesses first need to identify and prioritize use cases tied to their strategy, such as recovering abandoned sales, increasing average order size, reducing merchandise returns or driving increased loyalty program membership.
Then, they need to map the relevant information assets and prepare high-quality data that unlocks that unified picture and provides the actionable insights they need. Continuous interaction allows 360-degree systems like Salesforce Data Cloud to build a model of customer behavior that helps businesses create the right experiences for their customers. By deploying AI and machine learning to this process, it can be automated and scaled as the business grows.
Orchestrating a modern customer experience
Experiences can be intelligently orchestrated across a company’s entire ecosystem. They should draw on the entire technology stack and organization to work as a dynamic system, weaving together all aspects of the business.
By applying this approach to customer touchpoint data using a data navigation framework such as Cognizant’s Salesforce Data Cloud Navigator, businesses can realize several benefits that sit at the center of the customer experience strategy:
- Cost savings. When businesses lack automated visibility into customer actions, demographics and preferences, they can consume a lot of time and resources finding the data needed to personalize customer touchpoints. The data navigation framework reduces the cost of creating engaging customer experiences by automatically uniting disconnected information and surfacing relevant customer insights. Plus, those cost savings and process efficiencies only get more valuable as the business scales or enters new markets.
- Customer loyalty and retention. Modern customers expect to be treated less like numbers in a spreadsheet, and more like VIPs. Imagine an insurance company competing with new providers in a geographic market. With real-time data available to marketing, sales and service teams, it becomes easier than ever to deliver personalization throughout the customer journey. That personalized journey deepens customer loyalty and creates more upselling opportunities at the same time—both of which increase lifetime revenue per customer.
- Accelerated time-to-market. If the insurer wanted to improve customers’ digital engagement by incorporating a new self-service feature into their mobile app, there’s a lot of relevant data to work with. Customer insights like frequently asked questions should inform their design choices. And existing customer data from their unique profile needs to be seamlessly incorporated to maintain a smooth experience.
With highly unified data, the insurer can more quickly develop that new app feature. It would take a lot more time to get an updated mobile app up and running if the organization had data buried across disconnected applications and departments and was reliant on manual processes to gather it.
By addressing the issue of incomplete or inaccurate customer data, the data navigator framework solves a core issue marketers face. When paired with the right customer data platform, it enables scalable personalization and engaging experiences that businesses must deliver to stay competitive.