To Reimagine the Shift to CX, Marketers Must Do These 2 Things

Bolster customer journeys with analytics and immersive interactions

Markets fluctuate. Competitors come and go. And new technologies, data sources and smart machines are rewriting the story of the customer experience (CX). According to the SAS-Futurum Research Experience 2030 study, brands expect that 69% of decisions during real-time consumer engagement will be made by smart machines by 2030.

Advanced analytics serves as a key tool in the modern marketer’s toolbox because it shifts mindset from a focus on channel-based marketing investments to a forensic understanding of customer experiences with the brand.

To make that mental shift, marketers must do two things:

1. Start with AI-driven customer journeys

Prioritize customer journeys focused on a specific marketing objective that easily ties to a business outcome.

Use first-party customer data to sequence digital journeys. Start with what you’ve got. First- party customer data—like customer loyalty data and transaction information—gives marketers a solid starting point of known customers. Use more advanced, predictive analytics to connect clickstream data with first-party CRM data through authenticated, identifiable information like a customer’s loyalty card, email address or mobile number.

When a multi-brand U.K. retailer connected data from clickstreams and mobile interactions for its 2 million customers, the retailer uncovered key journeys and unearthed customer satisfiers and dissatisfiers. The result was more relevant, profitable experiences across all online and offline channels. Ultimately, the retailer achieved personalized offers scaled to 1.25 million offers served per day (about 800 transactions per second), and 4.5 million recommendations pre-loaded per hour.

Funnel data-driven journey insights into AI-fueled predictive models. Predictive analytics help marketers identify the next action their customers will likely take. Armed with valuable journey insights, they can build next-best-action models by using past customer behavior and purchase data to predict future actions.

For example, Raiffeisen Bank Belgrade used AI to propel the bank’s profitability, sending personalized offers  that more than 25% of solicited customers responded to, with an offer acceptance rate of 14%, compared to a rate of 1% before.

2. Avoid CX “sameness”

Lady Gaga said it best: “Being different is a talent. You illuminate what makes you special in the sea of sameness around you.”

What sets apart one brand from another? My favorite coffee shops and eateries allow me to order ahead in one click. I can pay bills and deposit checks with my bank app. I browse my favorite stores and buy online.

The most powerful distinction isn’t the functional utility of a digital experience or app. It’s the creative expression of the brand in all forms, and the emotional response it stirs.

Digitally express the values of the brand. The experience that customers have when they touch a screen or engage with a chatbot should directly portray the brand promise.

Aon, a global risk management firm, created an app that embodied Aon’s brand message: “Empower results.” The app forecasts the impact of Covid-19 on employee populations throughout the U.S., allowing employers to anticipate medical costs, absenteeism and potential needs to shift work operations due the pandemic.

Reassure and delight; don’t just target and optimize. Apply insights to deliver unique consumer connections. Personalization goes awry when the experience is rife with offers but fails to engage customers where they are and to consider what they need next.

For example, QSR Panera Bread, created an augmented reality experience, allowing customers to access immersive filters on Facebook and Snapchat. Customers can wake up with the brand’s signature coffee and breakfast wraps, and then flip their cameras over to be presented with an animated breakfast on a tray.

This immersive experience reached 9.3 million users—25% of whom followed up with an in-store visit after engaging with the ad.

The upshot: Marketers must reject the notion that customers want to hear messages that focus solely on driving interest and even trial. Instead, reimagined marketing means crafting interactions that are truly worthy of consumers’ time and attention, express brand values, and deliver a unique customer experience.

Wilson Raj is the global director of customer intelligence at analytics software and solutions provider SAS. He has held global leadership positions in marketing at companies such as Microsoft, Novell, Medtronic, Philips and Ameritech. He also has advised C-level executives on digital strategy while at agencies such as VML/Young & Rubicam and Wunderman.