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The Bar Is Higher Than Ever for Customer Experience

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Customer experience is going through rapid change. At the Forrester East Coast Customer Experience Forum in New York, the hot topic—and even the title of the conference—was “Why Good Enough Is Not Good Enough.” We’ve entered a new age of competitiveness that raises the bar significantly and forces brands to rethink the ways to know the customer better, and to trigger their passions where possible. Where it was once all about stocking the right products and having well-trained sales and customer service associates, today’s customer experience is defined by, as Forrester puts it, “…your people, processes, and technologies.”

Outperforming the Market

Is it worth the cost of making your customer’s experience that much better than with your competitors? A 2013 study by Forrester showed that customer experience leaders, over a six-year period, outperformed the broader market with returns that were three times higher than the average S&P 500 company. Likewise, customer experience laggards underperformed against the same S&P average with returns of -33.9 percent. Those are compelling numbers and reflect the benefits that great customer experience management confers on the brand: higher retention rates, lower acquisition costs, and greater customer lifetime value. A focus on customer experience is a gift to the customers for sure, but also clearly a gift back to the giver.

What Can I Do About It?

These numbers are great, but what can you as a brand do to improve your customer’s experience? For starters, you can make sure you’re collecting data about your customers that helps connect you not only to their preferences, but to their passions as well. The North Face has done a remarkable job at capturing what its customers care about—not just how they shop. Secondly, you can take steps to make your brand trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential, aligning with Forrester’s Tracy Stokes’ acronym, T.R.U.E. These are the four concepts that create a brand compass for customer experience.

Lastly, you can make sure you’ve created the technology environment to manage the ever-increasing amount of data that great customer experience requires. People can be trained and processes determined, but having the right foundation of technology is a key differentiator. With it, you can discover your customers’ patterns and propensities, “see” them in the moment, and respond in ways most likely to result in a positive outcome for both the customer and the brand.

To learn more about bolstering your customer experience, download our whitepaper, Customer Loyalty Management: Finding the Holy Grail of Marketing.

The World Will Compete on Customer Experience

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

The time is fast approaching where the stiffest competition for a customer’s wallet share will come from customer experience and the ensuing loyalty. You might think from everything you hear that we’re already there, but we’re not. Despite the rapid growth of smartphones and tablets, we haven’t yet reached the point where the majority of consumers are shopping digitally—yet. That leaves a little time, but very little, for brands to gear up to compete on customer experience.

Brands Are Already Investing

The brands that recognize what’s approaching are already investing in a platform approach to gain their customer’s trust and loyalty. A platform approach, rather than cobbling together point solutions, is a key part of making sure that the data necessary to create great customer experiences is available to the marketer, and ready for analysis and action.

Why a Platform?

The world will compete through customer experience platforms because we’re in a fast-moving digital data age that requires significant integration to make the concept work. This is due to the fact that customer experience is affected by a rapidly increasing number of touch points with the customer. What used to be face-to-face is now on the web or on a smartphone, any time of the day, and in many different contexts.

The diversification of context, in fact, is what makes customer experience such a challenge and, at the same time, such an opportunity. Context used to be far more simple. Is the customer on the website or in the store? Are they known or unknown? Going forward, the questions will range far further and have far greater dependence on interconnected data and systems. The new questions will include: When did the customer last interact? What was the outcome? What’s most likely to be an effective response in this moment?

And from the customer side, there are also far more questions: Does the brand recognize me quickly and easily? Does the brand value me as a repeat customer in a way that matters to me? Can I maintain my expectations regardless of the time, place, and platform that I prefer in the moment? The answers to these questions will determine whether a brand is able to compete on customer experience.

If you can’t answer those questions for your customers, it could be time to take a step back and change your approach.

For more on improving your customer experience, don’t miss our webinar, Nudges, Influence and Rewards: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.  

 

The CMO’s Massive Transformation

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Customer expectations have always been tough to match, but never has the challenge been as great as right now, in our always-on world. CMOs face the daunting task of striking the perfect balance between being relevant and safeguarding a customer’s privacy—a tough job when relevance involves leveraging customer data. A brand can only disappoint a customer once when it comes to privacy; managing customer trust is a difficult job.

And Then There’s the Data

Beyond the relevance and privacy concern, CMOs need to find and manage massive amounts of data, both historical and real time. This data isn’t found in one place—it’s found in many, and it needs new levels of connectivity to make sense and be useful. Without it, marketers can’t discover patterns themselves using visualized analytics and can’t apply the math that seeks trends and data combinations that the eyes can’t see.

From Creative to Technical

To top it off, the traditional CMO often has a creative background and isn’t necessarily an expert in data science and information technology. Suddenly, new rules call for the CMO to be able to go far beyond brand steward and to scrutinize every expenditure to understand the ROI of using emerging technologies.

In the heat of battle, many CMOs have spent money on SaaS and in-house point solutions that simply don’t play well together, or have the flexibility to morph with the marketplace and customer demands. Managing this massive transformation takes a more thoughtful approach, and the combination challenges CMOs face require an approach that preserves creative engagement while applying the right focus to technology and analytics. Rather than make each technology purchase separately, smart CMOs are building out from a common platform that provides the technology foundation to support analysis while carefully managing privacy, and supports creative flexibility while keeping the focus on being accountable for marketing spend.

The platform approach, starting with access to an unlimited amount of disparate data, is the only plan that makes sense for true transformation.

The Customer Experience Redefined

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

What happens when any customer can find any product in many places, even far away in an entirely other economy; while at home, work, or on the go; and at any hour of the day? What happens when those products can be delivered, for free, as soon as the next day?

Customer experience management (CEM) as we know it is being completely redefined to meet the needs of a massively shifting buying landscape. Toss out the old assumptions and get ready to break the rules—CEM has a whole new meaning.

How Much Can You Manage Customer Experience?

A brand can’t expect to be able to truly manage the experience in the old way. The concept of managing anything is based on having a customer’s full attention and a certain expectation for a selling cycle (time, messages, process, follow-through). Those are assumptions that no longer exist when a customer can buy from anywhere, even in another brand’s physical location. Customers themselves are now in charge.

So what can a marketer do given these significant changes? For one, there needs to be a new consideration of how to get a customer’s attention. Customer loyalty programs are an obvious fit for getting the customer focus despite the distractions. Second, the experience can’t start and end at the point of purchase. A longer, deeper interaction with a customer guarantees the decision will, at minimum, include the brand when the time to buy arrives. Third, a brand needs to be where the customer’s interactions are taking place. Today, that includes physical locations (but not always), mobile, and social media.

Participating in Customer Experience

In the end, what a brand can realistically achieve is to participate in the customer’s experience. That participation involves having faster access to a customer’s circumstances, better analytics that explain the likelihood the customer will respond when engaged, and a smarter way to test and learn the best ways to improve that customer’s experience. This is the new reality of CEM and a better way to understand the changing task of managing what can be managed, and participating in the rest.

Fast track your customer experience management with Jumpstart from TIBCO Loyalty Lab. Learn how.

Customer Experience Hinges on What You Know and When You Know It

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Today’s marketers needs to be focused intently on all of the data that can be gathered about their customers. This modern reality means that data’s two dimensions—”what we know” and “when we know it”—take on a completely new and higher level of importance. This is exactly why CRM falls short when it comes to capturing interaction with the customer in a way that tracks and improves the relationship.

Marketing Is About the Context

The limited data model of traditional CRM systems lacks the context required to engage customers in the best ways possible. That’s because the data available to marketers today isn’t simply historical interaction like transactions. With the data generated by mobile, Web, social and location technology, we can have the context of the customer’s current moment, where decisions are being made, enriched by the over-the-shoulder information from systems like CRM.

Managing Data’s Two Dimensions

This data coming from all directions presents an enormous opportunity for marketers to know more and to know it much more quickly than ever before. Excellent management of data’s “what” and “when” dimensions makes customer engagement a carefully analyzed, modeled, and orchestrated event, instead of an unwanted intrusion. It has relevance and value rather than being noisy and ignored.

Order In Data Chaos

If you’ve ever been to an air show, you know that the planes involved appear to be on the edge of chaos as they make high-speed passes and other stunts. Marketing data today is the same carefully orchestrated but high-speed exercise that we see in the sky. As marketers expand what they know and shorten the time to know it, the customer feels a seamless and immediate experience with the brand. With the right technology, interacting in the “now” moment, despite the noise, looks elegant and easy. Most importantly, brands know what to expect in real time and what will likely happen next.

To learn more, visit www.loyalylab.com/expertise

Why Customer Loyalty and Why Right Now?

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

During a recent trip to the grocery store, I commented at the checkout that I always receive coupons for baby food and diapers along with my receipt. I said sarcastically to the clerk, “You’d think I shop for those things and they know it.” The clerk nodded and completely seriously said, “I know, right? It’s like they’re watching everything. Doesn’t it seem creepy?” I had to laugh, but not until I was out of view. Like any period of rapid change, not everyone is fully briefed on the latest events in the digital revolution.

So Much Change

The clerk’s response isn’t all that surprising in the retail world, where so much is changing so quickly. As McKinsey said recently, we’re in the middle of a data analytics revolution. Everything we thought we knew has changed, and our ability to know the customer and tailor offers and other interactions is remarkably strong. Not everyone, the clerk included, realizes that customer loyalty is the opposite of creepy. In an era where so much can be known, predicted, and acted upon, loyalty programs are the only way to help the customer to feel comfortable with a brand’s knowledge of their habits and personal information.

Giving My Permission

A brand I feel loyal to, like my local grocery story, has my permission to track my spending patterns and to make offers on the products I’m most likely to buy or be willing to try. I look forward, in fact, to seeing what discounts and other deals they have in store for me. Think back to “coupon packs” and newspaper fliers of just a few years ago, where the majority of items were unlikely to catch our interest, and you’ll see just how far loyalty programs have come. Today’s programs have outgrown the simple points and plastic of yesterday’s brand loyalty and are executed as an integrated, marketer-friendly, data-enriched, real-time system.

A Loyalty-Driven Revolution

For retail, the digital analytics revolution that McKinsey talks about is loyalty-driven—it’s that simple. Brands that don’t invest in smart customer loyalty management risk breaking trust with their customers and losing business to the competitor who does.

To learn more, download our whitepaper on Customer Loyalty Management.

What It Takes to Become a Digital Business

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Business and technology are on a collision course that changes nearly every aspect of the organization. The term being thrown around to describe this is “digital business,” where mobile, analytics, social, and cloud are being married up to legacy systems like CRM, supply chain, inventory, and others so that data—sometimes called big data—has uninterrupted pathways to people, and vice versa.

Right Person, Right Time, Right Context 

This is what defines the new way work is being done—the ability for information to be available to the right person, at the right time, and in the right context. For a marketer, this is having fingertip access to all of the data that defines the customer, the organization’s ability to deliver products and services, and what’s happening at the interfaces in the current moment.

That’s not a description of the latest cloud app or a report being generated by traditional business intelligence tools. It is much, much more and involves bringing data together from across legacy systems and the latest technologies for social, mobile, and visual analytics.

Why a Digital Business?

A digital business has the ability to move and use the data that drives their business in new ways, whenever necessary. A digital business can disrupt itself time and time again because they can change product and customer attributes as necessary and create new combinations that form business ecosystems. A new channel, product, or customer pattern is no problem for a business that defines itself and its operations digitally.

Fundamentally, a digital business is flexible to change as the world changes; this is the secret to being the disruptor and not the disrupted. It is the only way businesses will survive into the future. What does it take? Leadership commitment and an ability to integrate legacy systems with the best and latest technologies.

To learn more, visit www.loyaltylab.com/expertise.

Making Marketing Magic Happen

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Customer experience management is a simple term that describes both a level of effort and wealth of insight that’s never before been required of marketers. The effort is higher because a customer’s experience is very personal and connected to a wide-ranging set of information that describes every past interaction with a brand—whether online, in the store, or on their smartphone. To top that off, customer experience is also defined by the environment around a customer at the moment in which they interact. It is a perfect combination of past and present.

The Enterprise Service Bus

Making the magic happen is all about being able to see customer historical data combined with contextual data arriving in real time. A company needs to be able to capture and use this data—that makes the magic happen. This isn’t a simple affair; it requires a level of connectivity provided by technologies like an enterprise service bus (ESB).

When we talk about integration technology like an ESB, it’s really important to make the distinction between technologies that connect the entire enterprise and technologies that connect anything less. Only an enterprise-wide integration plan can pull together the many pieces of data that support a great customer experience. Marketing analysis of an unlimited set of data is what sets the stage for everything to happen.

Establishing Meaningful KPIs

Given enough data, self-discovery visualization tools create insights leading to development of triggers that allow a brand to intervene in moments of risk or opportunity. It could be a customer about to depart a loyalty program or contract, or a chance to cross-sell or up-sell a purchase. Regardless, the rules that are written to create the best brand responses need to be used in simulation to prove their value and improve their accuracy. This proof step allows KPIs to be established that will be used later to ensure campaigns are working as planned. Having KPIs planned early, when risk is low, is a very important step.

The best approach isn’t a monolithic system that purports to do it all for you as marketing-in-a-box—that would be inflexible. In reality, it all comes together as agile marketing magic when marketers access enterprise data for analytics, a simulation environment to test their insights, and a way to measure the outcomes and change course when necessary during campaigns.

Are you ready to create marketing magic?

Watch our webinar, The Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014, to learn more about how loyalty, integration, and analytics technologies are intersecting and empowering marketers.

INFOGRAPHIC: Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014

 

 

To learn more about TIBCO’s Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014, download the whitepaper and watch the webinar.

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Monetizing the Game by Turning Customers Into Fans

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Turning customers into fans is more than a catchy phrase; it’s the goal of every marketer to get beyond the next purchase and into the heart and head of the customer. The same rule applies for sports teams—it’s one thing to bring a customer to a game, but quite another to use technology to create an outstanding experience, win or lose. Whether the business is an NFL team like the Oakland Raiders or a grocery retailer, better experiences have a profound impact on loyalty and create far more revenue than traditional approaches.

Creating True Fandom Through Technology

In the case of the Raiders, TIBCO’s mobile apps draw fans closer by offering a more contextual real-time experience that draws on fan preferences and details of the games and the team. It allows fans to feel a level of participation that wasn’t possible before, and allows the team to compile important preference and interaction data.

The Principles Apply Everywhere

The same principles apply to any brand that sells a product, not just professional sports teams. By knowing what’s happening in the customer’s world and being responsive, brands pull fans closer and optimize their experiences. In the game, it might be a score; in the retail world, it could be reaching a status level or entering the website or brick and mortar store. As humans, we love to cheer for the things that define our life, be it a local team or the places we like to shop. Turning customers into fans is as simple as giving a customer a reason to feel appreciated and informed.

Are You Turning Customers Into Fans?

Marketing is changing thanks to technology that makes mobile and other data a key part of getting to know your customers, and giving them a much better experience—the kind that makes them fans.

Learn what technologies smart marketers must master to stay ahead of the pack. Watch the webinar and read the whitepaper, Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014.