The following article is by Jason Rushforth, Vice President & General Manager, Infor Customer Experience Suite.
In virtually every industry and market, consumers and buyers call the shots. With more choice in vendors and greater visibility into pricing, consumers have fewer reasons to stay loyal to brands. This is why so many businesses are putting a high priority on the customer experience. By deploying a customer-first approach and a highly personalized experience throughout the entire customer lifecycle, brands can stand out in an increasingly crowded and competitive market.
However, delivering on the promise of a quality customer experience takes more than good intentions. Brands are discovering that it also demands cutting-edge technology and a fundamental shift in culture. Here are four considerations that will help companies make customer experience a competitive differentiator.
1. Create a meaningful context for engagement through AI and personalization
The age of one-size-fits-all marketing is over. Brands need to tailor every offer and interaction based on the customer’s history and preferences. They need to think of customer engagement in broader context than just marketing outreach. That takes intelligence.
Personalizing one customer engagement is difficult enough. Doing it at the scale that businesses require is a real challenge. That is where artificial intelligence can help. It can comb through the reams of customer data companies have to identify the preferences and patterns that lead to a highly tailored engagement cycle with every customer, every time.
2. Be relevant and consistent
The idea of delivering the right offer at the right time is so engrained in the marketer’s mindset that it has become a cliché. But it is also much easier said than done. The task of understanding the customer’s history and anticipating their future needs can no longer rely on gut feelings and educated guesswork.
In an omnichannel environment, it requires advanced analytics and data science technologies that can help predict what a customer will want and when. In other words, serving up relevant content and offers require more than precise targeting. It also demands that brands understand the real-time context of the recipient and what matters to them in the moment. For example, if a customer has had a problem with a delivery or has been overbilled on a recent shipment, a salesperson should have that knowledge and be able to adapt before making their next sales call.
In today’s omnichannel world, it has become standard practice to ensure that the customer has a consistent experience in every channel along the path to purchase. The customer’s purchase history and preferences should be visible across all channels—and offers, purchase options, even look, feel, and tone should be the same, regardless of the unique route of the customer’s journey.
3. Create continuity as the customer experience crosses the brand’s enterprise silos
Customers see their interaction with a brand as a single, seamless experience—which is why any gaps in that experience can be so jarring. Within an enterprise, marketing, sales, service, and accounts payable are different departments. But from the customer’s perspective, they are all part of one brand experience. It is critical for every department and specialization with the enterprise to think and act as one to create the consistency the customer expects. Technologies such as configure price quote, customer relationship management, and marketing resource management are not just tools to engage customers. They also help companies share information and collaborate more effectively within their four walls.
4. Do not forget the bottom line
Ultimately, brands focus on the customer experience because it is critical to their bottom-line success. Even as they plan for how to build rich, compelling, and relevant relationships with customers, the brand has to factor in its own goals for profitability and performance. They need to find where the customer’s needs intersect with their own priorities. However, they must keep in mind that the focus on the customer is the primary driver of success. This means knocking down the wall that separates the back office from the front and ensuring that critical data on inventory, orders, invoicing, and shipments—the kind of data traditionally housed in ERP applications—is available to the sales and marketing teams.
Use these four considerations as a guide towards customer experience excellence that will help you quickly surpass your competition.