5 Ways to Humanize Platforms and Develop a Deeper Connection With Consumers

Approach them with empathy and then build trust

A strong relationship with consumers always proves worthwhile for brands. Getty Images
Headshot of Deb Corrao

Building an ecosystem that supports connected experiences is technologically complex and strategically multifaceted—but, ultimately, it’s about fostering human connections.

By adopting a customer-centric mindset and ensuring you have a connected technology platform to drive marketing performance, companies can harness complexity to build enduring relationships.

Here are five basic principles to help marketers and technologists on their path to building a solid foundation with customers.

Single view of the customer

Today, many brands are sitting down at a figurative 10th anniversary dinner with their loyal customers, behaving like they’re on a first date. They’re asking the same “getting to know you” questions. Personalization no longer means chasing customers around the internet with haphazard recommendations based on purchase and search history.

Living profiles can be constructed based on the most unique aspects of an individual to help drive an orchestrated experience across touch points, enabling brands to engage much like a concierge or personal assistant.

Achieving this single view of the customer means extracting information from every disparate online and offline system into a single living database so all facets of the relationship can be considered. When mar-tech provider Lumascape labeled such solutions customer data platforms (CDPs), they became the talk of the town and the savviest marketers became aware of the need for these persistent, unified customer databases.

Simplicity and consistency

The single view of the customer gives marketers the opportunity to create the kind of experiences we would like to enjoy as consumers.

I’m consistently frustrated by clunky user interactions that run the gamut from disruptive to debilitating in my daily life. Customers deserve better. Start with a clear vision of the experience your customers need and then look at how technology can enable and improve it. Customer-centricity may sound obvious, but a surprising number of organizations start with technology first and end up investing in services that fail to deliver.

By offering seamless services and communication across touch-points, your brand can offer ease and even bring moments of joy to a person’s daily life.

Aim for experiences that reduce friction and make it easy for customers to interact when and how they want to. Focusing on details like consistent language and naming conventions across touch points engenders familiarity with your brand and services and makes customers feel they belong.

Omnichannel by design

By offering seamless services and communication across touch points, your brand can offer ease and even bring moments of joy to a person’s daily life. Yes, omnichannel life is complicated for marketers, but where marketing strategy is increasingly complex, we must go to great lengths to meet our customers’ needs by planning for omnichannel first instead of trying to retrofit old strategies to new environments.

Recently, I was modifying a hotel reservation online and eventually gave up when my original room and rate mysteriously disappeared and I was offered completely new options, bearing no correlation to my original request. I called to speak to an agent and got a better rate in the end, but the confusion and time spent negated any pleasure I might have felt.

Secure, stable and reliable

People want—and deserve—to be able to trust your organization. This new ecosystem empowers experiences like never before, but it does so by consolidating loads of data from previously offline systems and marrying them with ever-increasing new data sets. Exposure of that personal data could pose a significant risk to your customers if your security is not foolproof.

Successful brands fluidly bond platforms together to create an ecosystem that enables a complete customer experience. Building it to thrive far into our unpredictable future means designing it to be scalable, too. Robustness of scale and impenetrable security deliver the reliability expected by today’s consumers and are critical to thriving commerce.

Seamlessly integrated technology

In the CDP-enabled ecosystem, when you see a more effective way to connect with a customer, you can implement that strategy immediately without a massive technological transformation. API-enabled and designed with digital in mind, CDPs enable plug-and-play integration of new technology and accommodate structured and unstructured data.

Making the right data available and actionable completes the ecosystem. Survival in this context means marketers and technologists can no longer operate divergently, drawing from siloed and incomplete data sets. If platform disconnection originated as human disconnection, the only way to solve the problem is collaboration and admission of our blind spots.

CDP, a single view of the customer, and prying open data for true accessibility reunite divided marketers and technologists and shines a bright light on a new frontier for meaningful customer experiences. And by rallying around the customer, marketers and technologists will realize the true potential of the connected enterprise, for themselves and for their customers.

On the road to change and a better future, I like to remember the words of author Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.”

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@AccentureACTIVE Deb Corrao is a managing director and NA head of delivery for Accenture Interactive.