Stephanie Clarke is the Director of Content Marketing at Quadient, responsible for developing and executing Quadient’s global content strategy. Stephanie has more than 14 years of experience in the software, technology and manufacturing industries. She has a proven track record for designing and implementing winning and profitable B2B marketing strategies for global technology brands. Stephanie holds a B.A. from Wilfred Laurier University. She is very active on LinkedIn and Twitter – please connect with her by clicking the icons above.
A personalized experience can be defined as an interaction or engagement that a customer has with a company that leaves them feeling as though their interests, behaviour and preferences were thoroughly taken into account. Organizations who are able to meet their consumers' emotional expectations at an individual level are better able to foster loyalty.
Does personalization warrant all the hype?
Personalization has become a ‘hot topic’ among customer experience professionals. In a recent study, Gartner found that more than 60% of marketers are currently implementing some form of digital personalization project.
Unfortunately, few marketers indicated they feel they are meeting customer expectations.
This is echoed in a recent report by Evergage, where 55% of respondents "disagreed" that marketers are getting personalization right, and only 33% of marketers are confident that they have the tools required to personalize websites and apps today.
It is not surprising then, that personalization now ranks right up at the top when it comes to marketing focus areas - beating out items that have been dominating CMO priorities for many years, including video advertising, lead generation, mobile marketing, email marketing and marketing automation.
The topic of personalization absolutely warrants the hype – especially for existing customers.
Mistake #1: Focusing on the ‘buy’ phase
In a new Special Report by CCW Digital “Personalization: The Heart of the Customer Experience”, Quadient CMO Tamir Sigal notes, “Over the past several years, many organizations have invested heavily in marketing technologies that are geared primarily toward the ‘buy’ phase of the customer life cycle. But the truth is, once you’ve earned a new customer, the rest of the customer journey is even more important. And that’s where many organizations fall short.”
Loyal customers are five times as likely to repurchase, five times as likely to forgive, seven times as likely to try a new offering and four times as likely to refer. And, according to Forrester, winning a new customer costs up to five times as much as retaining one.
By providing deeply personalized and seamless experiences across your customers’ preferred channels throughout the entire customer journey, you build more loyalty, increase retention, create advocates and ultimately improve profitability.
Think about all the interactions that take place after you have won a customer: contracts, welcome kits, bills, statements, customer correspondence, up-sell and cross-sell communications, and so on. How to do they measure up?
When it comes to the CX strategy, the interactions that take place during the ‘own’ phase of the customer lifecycle are often overlooked. With these communications, rarely are the customers interests and preferences taken into account.
Mistake #2: Multiple, Disparate Technology Solutions
One of the key challenges to delivering a seamless personalized omni-channel experience, is a complex infrastructure of core legacy IT technology – old systems that were developed 15 to 20 years ago for print-centric output only.
While 94% of companies agree that personalization is critical to their current and future success, almost half say that IT roadblocks (47%) and legacy technology (46%) are “major barriers” to their personalization efforts.
The more customers, communication channels, products, and services an organization has, the more likelihood there are many systems—both legacy and modern—in place to manage it all. The result is an infrastructure of software, hardware, and business rules that requires a lot of care. In most cases, the management of customer communications lacks a holistic strategy.
The key to delivering personalized experiences to existing customers lies in the supporting technology and its integration capabilities. Organizations require a centralized customer communications management (CCM) platform that integrates with existing core systems and has the ability to pull data from anywhere to create highly-personalized, relevant, and timely communications across all channels.
Modern CCM technology must integrate seamlessly with the following:
- On-premise and cloud-based core systems (CRM, ERP, ECM, etc.)
- Line-of-business systems (core banking, claims/billing, underwriting, etc.)
- Legacy systems (transactional systems, homegrown applications, production management, etc.)
- Adjacent technologies (BI and BA tools, archiving systems, mobile applications, MDM, data cleansing, etc.)
With real-time access to data, you have the ability to engage with your customers on a new level. For example, create dynamic account statements that illustrate the customers’ monthly service usage or spending habits using interactive charts and graphs—on their channel of choice. Or upsell new products to your customers using mobile push notifications that connect to pre-populated digital forms, increasing the customer lifetime value.
Mistake #3: Poor Data Quality
Inconsistent and incorrect data has a negative impact on the customer experience —and inhibits the success of your business. According to Forbes Insights and Sitecore, organizations use an average of 35 different data gathering systems with little to no integration.
Customer data comes in through many different channels and combining data from multiple sources is almost guaranteed to create inconsistencies. Each customer should have one master record, so they will appear the same to everyone in the company, no matter which is consulted.
Without integration, it is impossible to make a customer feel as though their interests and preferences have been taken into account, because, in reality, you only have access to the limited amount of information in the database you are referencing at the time. A single customer view provides a comprehensive and reliable profile of each customer, which contains data from multiple sources.
Any successful single customer view solution is built on a clever mix of technology, processes and services to deliver an accurate, timely and complete view of the customer across multiple channels, lines of business, departments and divisions, drawing customer data from multiple sources and systems.
The underlying reason for creating a single customer view is so that employees who interact with customers will know their history with the company. When you do that, you have a much better chance of meeting your customers’ emotional expectations
Mistake #4: Organizational Silos
When it comes to personalization, Many organizations have separate teams dedicated to creating communications for print, mobile, email, and web—leading to operational inefficiency, high costs, inconsistency, and increased compliance risk.
A centralized CCM infrastructure, however, delivers a better customer experience; and there are efficiency gains thanks to the fact that changes are easily propagated across various touchpoints and channels.
By empowering business users, organizations can create and deliver personalized communications faster and with less reliance upon IT than ever before.
It is imperative that the CMO and the CIO work together to focus on what their organizations value most – the customer. The customer is at the center of every interaction, and implementing digital transformation while centralizing omni-channel communications is one of the most powerful projects an organization can take on.
In addition, collaboration between cross-functional employees has become increasingly important. Modern CCM platforms have the ability to not only handle the personalization of complex communications, but they also enable business users and subject matter experts to collaborate on the creation of communications with simple or sophisticated approval workflows created to connect various stakeholders.
To learn more about how to uncover and eliminate the roadblocks to personalization, be sure to grab a complimentary copy of the CCW Digital Special Report, “Personalization: The Heart of the Customer Experience”. The report features insights, anecdotes and perspectives from several leading customer experience executives and thought leaders.