For a consumer that faithfully engages with a brand over time, there are few things more frustrating than having inconsistent experiences. In this age of personalization, recommendation engines, retargeting, and “just for me” marketing, consumers have high expectations for their brand interactions, and justifiably so. They are releasing their personal data and opening their wallets, so they want to be recognized whether when browsing an e-commerce site or making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store. They want their loyalty program membership identified and updated quickly when they make a transaction. Additionally, they expect those brands to remember their preferences and anticipate their needs going forward.
Some marketers turn to technological tools to facilitate and optimize those customer experiences, but those coming from larger organizations often lack a unifying strategy for managing multiple touchpoints. That causes a major challenge. While marketers and other key decision makers within the organization may see internal problems to be solved (or opportunities to be seized), the only thing a customer sees is the brand itself.
This realization is why having a unified customer experience strategy is so critical for brands. Part of it also means breaking down internal siloes and abandoning brands’ tunnel-vision approaches to marketing and commerce channels, so they can focus on what really matters most to their customer.
It Starts with a Single Source of Truth
Creating a single customer view (SCV) is the first place to start. To enact a truly unified customer experience strategy, brands must first have the ability to consolidate and analyze data across multiple touchpoints and in an omni-channel environment. When the right technology tools are activated, only then can brands create a SCV.
For most businesses, there is no shortage of channels through which a customer can interact. But to truly understand the customer and analyze their behaviors and preferences, brands must be able to integrate data from any interaction — whether that is online, in-store, on a social network or through any customer service experience — into a single customer identifier (the SCV). To lay the groundwork for a unified customer experience, all this data must be stored in a central location, and use it to inform personalization, track customer activity, and identify segments and trends.
In the best cases, these technologies help create a single customer view, dynamically. For organizations with multiple banners or large global operations, i.e., those that need a unified customer experience strategy, the ability to parse data in real time and learn about the customer dynamically can have a significant impact.
Singular Experiences Are Not Always the Same
Martech tools like CRM software and building out a single customer view will only get marketers so far down the path toward a unified customer experience. As consumer behaviors shift seamlessly between ever-evolving online and offline channels (and in many cases from brand to brand) marketers should create experiences that are both consistent and positive for the customer , such as saving preferences and previous orders. In this way, they can establish long-term relationships that yield more insights and enable the creation of experiential moments and interactions that lead to further engagement. Or in other words, a virtuous customer experience circle.
To be successful as a marketer, you should strive to create meaningful engagement that connects to consumers. You can do this with a unified customer experience strategy, but to get there you need the right tools to collect relevant data, the ability to build a single customer view, and a proactive approach to offering customers consistent, positive experiences across touchpoints and channels.
With a unified customer experience strategy, you can open new vistas of opportunity, and ultimately drive more profitable customer relationships, including ones that can last a lifetime.