Articles about Customer Experience Strategy
Unpacking branded communities At its Inbound 2022 conference, HubSpot unveiled a new community of practice, connect.com, where HubSpot marketers can share ideas and build connections. In recent years, many companies have made forays into community building, with mixed results. An online community can help companies build stronger customer relationships, discover important product and consumer insights, and drive sales. Or it can be a waste of time. If you want an online community that drives business value, you’re going to need a strategy. Real people don’t bond around yet another platform, app, or notification. To drive high-impact results, successful community strategies typically include: Audience awareness: If you haven’t already, this is the time to do persona research and carefully assess your customer journeys. “Community” means different things to different people — and in different contexts. Knowing your target audience can help you craft experiences that resonate. Authentic value: Is your audience looking for ideas, collaboration, training, or access to learn from experts? Where does their need intersect with your organization’s personality and expertise? For your brand’s online community to thrive, it needs to fit your culture and deliver real value to your target members. Aligned platform: Whether it’s a Facebook group, Slack channel, or fully branded platform experience, the technology that hosts your community matters. The platform experience impacts engagement and retention, and ultimately determines how much tangible ROI you’ll see in the form of insights, feedback, and pipeline. Interested in exploring what an online community could do for your brand? We can help. From customer research to complete community engagement strategies, Fusion partners with mid-market and enterprise companies to reimagine customer connection. Learn more >>
In this case, we're not looking for plot twists. In the gripping mystery thriller film The Invisible Guest, a wealthy tech entrepreneur finds himself entangled in a murder case and hires a top lawyer to build his defense. As the entrepreneur’s story unwinds, the audience is kept guessing until the final identity is revealed, which, we must confess, we did not see coming. Hopefully the same could not be said for your organization’s technology platforms. As more and more data and applications move to the cloud, and employees increasingly expect seamless BYOD experiences, companies are looking for identity and access management solutions that balance flexibility with robust security. Whether you’re looking for a new tool, need to integrate or authenticate across new data streams, or create complex multi-tenancy and role-based access rules, we can help. Our technology and data teams can help you identify and implement the right solutions to keep identity records and access rules secure and seamless – so you can keep your business moving forward. Get smart. No shade intended for superheroes and middle-aged men flying jets, but if you’re looking for a gripping mystery thriller this weekend, we’d recommend The Invisible Guest. It’s currently streaming on Netflix with English subtitles. That’s right, you get culture points and suspense. And if you’ve been wondering about simulation theory and hoping to find a sci-fi outlet to help you think it through, Sea of Tranquility turned out to be better than When We Cease to Understand the World, in our opinion. If, after getting all turned around by cinematic and literary plot twists, you want to explore tech solutions, let us know. We can’t deliver time travel, fix the lighting on your moon colony, or help you prep for a Spanish deposition, but real-world identity and access management solutions are right up our alley.
As the pace of technological change continues to increase, digital transformation in healthcare often struggles to keep up. Challenges like integrating aging legacy systems, maintaining patient privacy, and leveraging disparate data sources into actionable insights loom large in healthcare, where time and resources are often at a premium. But the same circumstances that make digital transformation in healthcare more difficult are the very things that underline its importance. When patient lives are on the line, digital transformation isn’t just a “nice to have.” Healthcare systems that achieve their digital transformation goals see immediate improvements in patient experience, quality of care, and patient outcomes. From that standpoint, digital transformation in healthcare isn’t just about adding technology, it’s about revolutionizing the processes and systems that drive the health and well-being of the population as a whole. Case study: Life-saving technology in diabetes long-term care >> Putting patients first While individual healthcare providers commonly put their patients’ needs front and center, the system as a whole did not evolve with that mentality. Due to a variety of factors, including payer systems, consolidation, and the regulatory environment, healthcare systems got a reputation for siloed information, duplicate workflows, lack of clarity, and confusion. As healthcare organizations seek to modernize, smart health systems are taking a consumer-centric approach — redesigning patient experiences and pathways while improving care delivery and outcomes using digital technology. Article: Transforming customer engagement in the digital age >> Planning the future of digital transformation in healthcare During the pandemic, industries accelerated digital transformation efforts across the board, and healthcare was no exception. Out of necessity, more medical touchpoints and interactions moved online, from virtual office visits to automated triage to digital paperwork. Now, two years into the new normal, healthcare organizations are taking stock of their progress, appreciating the speed and scale of their efforts, and mapping opportunities for the future. A recent Deloitte study found that 60% of health systems say they are about halfway through their digital transformation journey. In our experience, working with technology innovators and leaders across industries is where things can get messy. Digital transformation is a long game, and organizations often get bogged down at the halfway mark. To keep moving forward and avoid costly wrong turns, healthcare leaders need a fresh vision and renewed roadmap. Evolving digital transformation in healthcare to meet the changing expectations of patients and providers requires a commitment to a digital-first, people-centric approach, but offers great opportunities for continued growth in connection, innovation, and successful outcomes. Based on our experience, we see five key areas where focused efforts can deliver outsized returns for healthcare systems that are mid-way through their digital transformations: 1. Modernize legacy systems to give providers and patients more options While the vast majority of individual healthcare providers and healthcare organizations use an electronic health records (EHR) system, relatively few seamlessly integrate with patient portals. A recent PEW Health Information Technology (HIT) survey found that almost 80% of respondents wanted to access and view their electronic health records through a website, an online portal, a mobile app, or electronically in some other way. Moreover, the same survey highlights a strong desire for their doctors to share information about the patient’s health status. For most healthcare organizations, integrating patient records across practices and within portals is a headache at best. Adding in the other digital interactions that today’s consumers expect — such as automated appointment and prescription workflows, chatbots, pre-filled forms, and instant answers — might seem impossible. Delivering a better patient experience and giving providers greater flexibility with their tools often takes a more strategic view. Rather than layering in more and more technology solutions, smart healthcare organizations take a holistic approach to modernization, creating flexible, modular solutions that give patients and providers more options in the near term while also making future enhancements easier. Case Study: How an AI healthcare company optimized its digital experience >> Article: Modernization challenges and the path forward >> 2. Mitigate risk to build patient trust In addition to technology lag, healthcare systems also struggle to connect patient health information due to regulatory constraints. To maintain HIPAA compliance in the US and GDPR compliance for EU patients, healthcare organizations sometimes limit the very information sharing that would result in higher quality care. To meet patient expectations of data privacy and personal health data security while also delivering on modern expectations for functionality and connectivity, health organizations need to build in best practices for security and governance throughout their technology architecture. While there are myriad ways to approach this issue, a couple of key options deserve consideration: BYOD Policies A 2019 study found that 63% of healthcare organizations sustained a security incident related to unmanaged and IoT devices. Given the rapid acceleration of digital transformation in healthcare since 2020, we suspect that number is much higher today. As healthcare organizations modernize systems and integrate more virtual and IoT solutions into their technology spaces, having a robust and updated BYOD policy becomes more important. Developing a compliant, enforceable strategy is a critical step in your modernization efforts. Case study: Navigating BYOD in a highly regulated industry >> Containerization One way to mitigate risk is to containerize data, workflows, and applications in the cloud. Although the cloud can sometimes get a bad rap for security, a carefully designed strategy puts security first and can prevent any breach from spilling over too far into other parts of your architecture. Article: Maintaining a composable enterprise >> Blockchain Best known in the context of cryptocurrency, blockchain uses a computerized database of transactions to allow secure information exchange without the need of a third party. Applying blockchain technology to the healthcare industry could improve information security management; healthcare data can be communicated and analyzed while preserving privacy and security. Countries like Australia and the UK have started experimenting with blockchain technology to manage medical records and transactions among patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies. In both examples, decentralized networks of computers handle the blockchain and simultaneously register every transaction to detect conflicting information, keeping records accurate and making them more difficult to hack. Article: Building trust in your data privacy compliance >> 3. Use voice and wearables to enhance patient experience and outcomes Wearable devices and IoT-based health sensors can track a patient’s conditions and activities remotely, from their vital signs and hydration to the onset of a medical crisis event. The data collected can be helpful to healthcare providers and enable them to better guide patient care. Healthcare providers use IoT and wearable data for remote monitoring and preventative care, providing more specific, personalized connections even with lower staff coverage. Machine learning also drives AI-based natural language processing technology in the healthcare space. As more patients become familiar with voice models like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home, healthcare organizations see potential to deploy the technology for tasks like triage and treatment reminders. For example, the UK’s NHS uses voice technology to field common questions, deliver health information, and remind patients to take medication. Case study: Using wearables to improve patient care >> 4. Put data to work for predictive and preventative care Healthcare organizations collect volumes of data but traditionally haven’t used advanced analytics to translate the information into actionable insights. Today’s leading provider systems are exploring how real-time business analytics, predictive analytics, and AI can transform patient experience and how care is delivered. In much the same way that businesses use data analysis to spot trends, forecast consumer behavior, and drive purchasing decisions, healthcare organizations can use the information they collect to understand patient expectations, discover areas of dissatisfaction or waste, and identify opportunities to enhance the overall experience of patients with their facilities. Likewise, providers can use patient data to understand how a unique individual responds to treatment, spot key diagnostic markers, and even predict potential outcomes so that doctors and patients can work together to minimize risk. Article: Data analytics in healthcare settings >> 5. Automate administrative tasks to focus on patient care The growing number of administrative tasks imposed on physicians, their practices, and, by extension, their patients adds unnecessary costs to the health care system. Excessive administrative tasks also divert time and focus away from providing actual care to patients. Tools like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help healthcare systems save time and resources in areas such as administration, billing, and human resources — freeing up more time for face-to-face interaction with patients. When it comes to finding the right applications for automation in healthcare, it’s important to keep patient experience at the center of your strategy. Developing a customer-first automation strategy can help create the perfect blend of automated interactions and human interactions that will meet today’s expectations and delight patients rather than frustrate them. Article: Finding the right use cases for automation >> Evolving patient care through digital transformation in healthcare As the digital tools, apps, and resources pioneered during the pandemic continue to evolve, healthcare leaders must continue to push ahead with digital-first, patient-centric investments in technology, integrations, and solutions. Finding the right balance between patient and provider expectations, maintaining compliance, and enhancing patient care requires a mindset that values the patient’s perspective. Ready to take the next step? Get a machine learning jumpstart >> Get a better view of your data analytics maturity >> Refresh your digital transformation roadmap >> Wherever you are on your digital transformation journey, our team of digital, data, and technology experts can help. Ask us your questions about digital transformation in healthcare >>
The pace of change and unpredictable circumstances of the past couple of years have led many companies to rethink their just-in-time approaches to resourcing tangible goods and materials. But why stop there? To scale and adapt fast, companies also need a new approach to how they resource skillsets. One of our clients, PRECISIONxtract, did just that. By taking a just-in-time approach to their shifting skillset needs, the company was able to scale up fast — and minimize risk — in a changing business environment. A right-fit-first approach PRECISIONxtract’s transformative healthcare market access solutions offer patients and providers unprecedented connection to the right medication and resources in clinical settings. To bring that vision to life, PRECISION could have found a series of single-skill vendors or taken the time to recruit and onboard new employees. Instead, they looked for a cross-functional partner that would be a seamless fit with their company culture and that had the right mix of scalable skills. They found that fit with Fusion Alliance. Fusion quickly became an integral part of PRECISION’s team, assembling a group of more than 20 strategy, data, and technology experts to deliver responsive support for a growing set of initiatives. Boosting surge capacity across disciplines Knowing that their flagship product, Access Genius, needed design and functionality upgrades, PRECISION called on Fusion to assess and modernize the application without disrupting the existing business. To avoid downtime and increase speed to market, our team used an Agile process and a model-driven design, in which models from the source code informed modernization efforts. Streamlining the overall architecture not only saved development time, but also made Access Genius easier to deploy to PRECISION’s clients. And, to make the product easier to maintain and cheaper to run, we applied containerization through a microservices model and moved Access Genius to a distributed cloud hosting framework. Our solution provided real-time customer insights that were delivered across a variety of digital channels, in lieu of a people-driven process. This helped take Access Genius: From a complex, cumbersome, legacy monolith into a lightning-fast, distributed, cost-effective, cloud-native solution From a user-driven, database-centric format to a distributed API-based framework, enabling immediate data updates for important cost and coverage changes From a time-intensive customer engagement portal to an intuitive, streamlined, automated process Equipped with a modern, stable, extensible platform, PRECISION was free to explore opportunities for more radical innovation. Disrupting the market with frictionless access to timely data Although Access Genius successfully broke down barriers with data, the solution’s interface required users to navigate a complex dashboard with manual clicks and drop-downs. For pharma teams with limited time to connect doctors to information, seconds count. Working with PRECISION’s product team, Fusion technology experts analyzed the friction point of manual navigation and explored ways to make Access Genius more seamless for the user. Drawing on deep expertise deploying cutting-edge technologies into highly regulated spaces, Fusion suggested exploring a shift away from a traditional web-based interface to an AI-enabled voice functionality that would connect users to the most relevant data and messaging right in the flow of conversation. Changing the way pharma enablement tools go to market At the same time, other Fusion consultants were hard at work rethinking the way PRECISION’s products reached, empowered, and retained customers. We brought in a range of specialists to bring new strategies to life, including: Instructional designers and training developers created an interactive training platform to equip pharma sales reps with greater confidence in provider interactions by deepening their understanding of the Access Genius tool. RESULT: Access Genius IQ, a new training tool that helps PRECISION customers see faster ROI for their Access Genius investment Brand experts, visual designers, content strategists, and web developers elevated visual brand elements and created websites, editorial content, and outreach campaigns. RESULT: New website architecture, design, and content; long-form lead generation content; prospect cultivation email marketing Digital marketing strategists, creative designers, and ad teams implemented innovative ad campaigns in rapid succession as PRECISION had more time to develop and roll out new products. RESULT: LinkedIn ad campaigns generating 3X leads, including 100 qualified leads in the first 90 days Read more about the success of Fusion’s marketing partnership with PRECISION >> Reimagining the skillset supply chain Partnering with Fusion gives PRECISION access to a huge team of experienced consultants with a wide range of skillsets — allowing the company to surge and scale as their business needs and market realities shift. With Fusion bringing in the right people at just the right time, PRECISION saves valuable time and resources, enabling them to be more innovative, more agile, and more impactful for their customers, healthcare providers, and patients. Ready to explore how Fusion skillsets can help your team succeed? Our ongoing work with PRECISIONxtract is just one example of how we help companies build momentum for a digital-first world. We bring big-picture thinkers, technology-minded creatives, data scientists, and technical experts to work alongside our clients, providing a force-multiplying effect that leads to scalable, future-focused solutions for the most complex challenges. Ready to get started? Let’s talk.
Organizations collect data from a wide range of sources and store it in any number of solutions, which can be spread across the business. For marketing departments trying to deliver personalized customer experiences, those silos present a problem, and a customer data platform (CDP) can seem like an easy answer. That could be the right conclusion, but it also might be premature. If you’re wondering how to choose a CDP, it makes sense to start with the basics. How to choose a CDP: 1. Understand the benefits and limitations of CDP solutions 2. Get internal alignment around the need and timing for a CDP 3. Surface your requirements, and prioritize your top 3-5 4. Map your core requirements to functionality you need in a CDP 5. Get stakeholder buy-in and secure a budget 6. Create a CDP selection matrix 7. Get external help if you need it 1. Understand the benefits and limitations of CDP solutions The CDP Institute defines a customer data platform as “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.” This simple definition goes a long way toward unpacking the pros and cons of CDPs. A CDP is packaged software. PRO: A CDP is prebuilt and doesn’t require as much help from IT to implement and maintain as other solutions like custom platforms and data warehouses. CON: Because it’s packaged software and not a platform, a CDP will be less customizable and less efficient than adding customized functionality to an existing architecture. A CDP must create a persistent, unified customer database. PRO: A CDP ingests data from multiple sources across the business, standardizes it, and uses it to build an identity graph to enable real-time customer identification that fuels targeted multi-channel marketing efforts. CON: A CDP overcomes some of the difficulty of identity resolution but obscures the methodology. You get a unified customer view, but not a lot of certainty that it’s accurate. A CDP must be accessible to other systems. PRO: You can use the aggregated data and outputs from a CDP with your downstream systems. CON: The CDP you select must either come with the API connections you need for the rest of your martech and enterprise tech stacks or you’ll need to factor in costs for custom APIs. 2. Get internal alignment around the need and timing for a CDP Today’s martech stacks are growing fast, and it’s not always clear whether the functionality your marketing team needs already exists in the broader enterprise architecture. Overlapping features and blindspots are a problem — but also an opportunity. Gathering a cross-functional group that includes marketing, IT, data, and product teams can help you figure out how to get the most from your technology investments across the business. If you’re wondering how to choose a CDP, you might be surprised to find that many of the core functions you’re looking for in a CDP are already available in your CRM, MDM, data warehouse, analytics, and BI solutions. For example: Some analytical CRMs can track real-time online events like website browsing, adding to cart, and the like, much like CDPs. Your data warehouse may allow for an identity graph overlay and machine learning algorithms that can play a key role in enterprise-wide customer identity resolution. Your IT and data teams may already have identity and access management processes in place, and that single source of customer data truth could be integrated with your existing martech stack. So, how do you know if your organization needs a CDP? Your cross-functional group can explore potential use cases in light of departmental needs, budget, and existing functionality. While every organization is different, here are some ways to frame the conversation. You might need a CDP if: Your organization has a large volume of customer data stored in multiple places, and you either can’t or haven’t been able to integrate it into a single, real-time view Your marketing team can’t access customer data or perform data tasks without help from data and IT teams You can’t unify your online metrics, CRM data, and offline touchpoint and transactional data, making it hard to build a 360-degree view of your customer You’re moving to a first-party data strategy, but you don’t have systems in place to use your data to inform audience segmentation and personalized campaigns You have functionality gaps in your current martech stack that match up to CDP features You might NOT need a CDP if: You have a minimal and well architected martech stack Your customer data is simple or straightforward enough to analyze easily without additional tools Your marketing plan doesn’t require a lot of personalization, either because your products and services don’t require it, or because your roadmap doesn’t call for it in the short term Your customer data strategy has already mapped your needs to existing solutions and your roadmap doesn’t include a CDP Your budget doesn’t allow for duplicating storage costs, building and operating data ingestion processes, or keeping up with the steep total cost of CDP ownership Your security requirements don’t allow for third-party customer data storage Your internal IT and data teams find more affordable and secure means to implement identity and access management, democratize data access, and connect data storage with martech tools 3. Surface requirements, and prioritize your top 3-5 As you meet with your cross-functional team and discuss your need for a CDP, you can also surface requirements and use cases for a CDP solution. From your larger list, choose 3-5 top priorities to help you choose a CDP. Some common examples of CDP use cases include: Streamlining identity resolution, and making those outputs more accessible and actionable Combining online and offline data Creating more personalized content experiences on your website Using more strategic targeting in your multichannel campaigns Integrating and standardizing data across systems and making it easier to use those outputs in omnichannel marketing efforts 4. Map your core requirements to features you need in a CDP After you identify your top 3-5 use cases, map those core requirements to features you need in a CDP. For example, if one of your core requirements is enabling more targeted multichannel marketing campaigns in the EU, you might need to look for a CDP that offers GDPR-compliant identity resolution processes. Be sure to note which systems and solutions you’ll need to connect to your CDP both in terms of data ingestion and output sharing with downstream systems. Your CDP will need integrations and APIs to enable those connections. Common CDP integrations include CRMs, analytics tools and dashboards, advertising platforms, BI tools, data warehouses, and data lakes. Meet with your cross-functional group again to confirm your conclusions and assumptions. This meeting is a good time to clarify any security and data governance implications for your CDP selection as well. 5. Get stakeholder buy-in and secure a budget Your next step is to get stakeholders on board for the CDP acquisition and to establish funding to make the purchase. Leadership needs to know the full report from your cross-functional team, but they’ll also have questions about what kind of return the organization can expect from the investment As you frame up the value story, consider thinking about what not having a CDP costs your company: Is your marketing team using a significant amount of IT or data team hours looking for information? If you were to solve your data connectivity issues with custom-built APIs, how much would that cost? How much are you losing in customer value by not providing a customized experience? How much time is your marketing team spending manually moving data from one system to another? 6. Create a CDP selection matrix The vendor selection process doesn’t have to be painful. Your team can feel more confident about choosing a CDP because you’re going into the process with defined use cases and requirements, as well as support from the organization. That said, with an ever-growing CDP vendor landscape, it helps to have a process for narrowing down your choices. To accomplish that task, many companies use an internally framed selection matrix or decision tree, customized to fit CDP-specific needs and requirements. These tools can help you think through solution options using your own criteria. However you handle the vendor review, plan to bring a short list of possibilities back to your cross-functional team for a final discussion before making a purchasing decision. 7. Get external help if you need it. Figuring out how to choose a CDP and where the solution fits into your larger customer data strategy isn’t easy. Fusion Alliance helps companies navigate changing customer data environments with a unique methodology that fosters collaboration, transparency, and shared ownership of digital transformations. Whether you’re just getting started or stuck in the messy middle of a CDP selection process, we help you unpack your processes and partnerships to identify risks and opportunities so you can take the right next steps toward a future-focused customer data strategy. Let’s talk. Keep reading: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Customer Data Strategy
Building trust into your customer data strategy In the rapidly changing regulatory environment around customer data privacy and security, it’s easy to get so caught up in specifics that you miss the big picture opportunity to build trust with your customers. Fundamentally, every box you check with your data: consent, collection, storage, use, sharing, and more is reflective of your respect for your customer. After all, how you treat their data tells customers a lot about how you’ll treat them. To take a customer-centric view of your data privacy compliance policies and procedures, we recommend a series of concrete steps applicable to any business or organization that deals with customer data in any form. While not exhaustive, this list forms a solid foundation for building trust in your data strategy. Know where you’re vulnerable One reason businesses are uniquely susceptible to data breaches and privacy omissions is the ubiquity of customer data across business units. While different departments may source, store, and use data in different ways, its presence demands compliance. The best way to get a handle on the issue is to create a data map. This unified view of the information you have, where it’s stored, and how it flows within your organization is not only helpful from a security and privacy compliance perspective, but it can also be a helpful resource for the business. Build a comprehensive data map in our Customer Data Strategy workshop >> Set guardrails When it comes to collecting customer data, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Using your data map, think through your customer data requirements, and only plan to collect, process, and store what you really need to meet your goals. Many organizations find it helpful to spell out this less-is-more approach to data collection in a formal policy, and then make it part of their data culture and training. Pro Tip: Having written policies around customer data collection, use, storage, transmission, and sharing is important, but not sufficient. Building policies into your corporate culture takes focused planning and effort, but it pays off in compliance. Understand the current landscape Depending on your industry, location, and customer base, your company may be subject to different privacy laws, regulations, and requirements. Some common standards include GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA. Your legal team probably already has a good handle on which of these apply in your current context, but do your security, IT, data, and business units have complete understanding of those implications? Consider cross-referencing relevant requirements to your data map to be sure your organization is fully compliant. Build an agile data privacy program What if your company is not currently subject to those regulations? As you build your data privacy program, it may be wise to look into today’s privacy standards as a near-future view. Legislatures and courts continue to support customer privacy, and policy changes at Apple, Google, and other large tech and search companies forecast trends to greater restrictions on customer data collection and use. Using current standards to anticipate future changes makes sense. Keeping your data privacy program agile and flexible not only ensures that you’ll stay ahead of costly changes in the future, but also builds customer trust — a valuable goal regardless of external factors. Establish a security and governance framework Depending on your industry, this may be a formal, full-time responsibility for an individual, team, or an entire department. Or you might opt for clear policies and procedures shared across business units. In any case, your customer data security and governance framework should include, at minimum: What types of customer data are collected How customer data is protected, during transmission, in use, and at rest What standards you follow for data security, quality, access, and retention Which protection measures you use when data is transferred, stored, or used, such as data masking, tokenization, format-preserving encryption, or keys Improve the user’s experience We commonly think of user experience on digital properties in terms of how a website or landing page looks and functions. But how you interact with your customers about their data is also part of their experience of your brand. Commit to clarity: rather than burying consent information in lengthy legalese, be up-front, clear, and simple in how your structure and format your consent management and opt-in features. As you think about the ways your customers experience your privacy program, some topics to consider clarifying include: How individuals can consent to (or opt out of) your company collecting and processing their data Why customers might want to share their data — that is, what they get out of the exchange in terms of improved experience, personalized discounts, and the like How you’ll establish that a user is over 16 or over 18, if your industry or topic requires that distinction How a customer can request to have their data deleted, and how your organization will comply Put the customer first Data privacy protections show no sign of slowing down, but companies with strong customer data strategies don’t need to worry. Whatever the future holds, building a customer-first approach to collecting, storing, and using data pays off in terms of strengthened relationships across the buyer’s journey and throughout the customer lifecycle. Not sure how to get started? We can help. Our team of digital, data, and technology experts partners with you to get your customer data strategy going — or back on track. Let’s talk >> Learn more about customer data strategy >>
In the crowded field of martech solutions, finding the right tools can be challenging. Businesses not only need to identify the right customer data strategy to fit their goals, but then source or upgrade the right software and systems to bring that strategy to life. In this quick comparison, we’ll define two commonly misunderstood tools, help you sort through the CDP vs DMP conundrum, and explore how they might fit into your technology stack. What is a Customer Data Platform (CDP) and what does it do? A CDP is not technically a platform; it’s a software solution that collects and streamlines customer data primarily from first-party sources to improve marketing operations. Because they are designed in support of long-term customer engagement, CDPs store data longer and can provide a single source of truth for customer records. Learn more about how CDPs fit into a customer data strategy >> What is a Data Management Platform (DMP) and what does it do? A DMP is a data warehouse that collects, segments, analyzes, and stores primarily third-party customer data for use in advertising campaigns. This adtech component plays a critical role in targeting and retargeting for short-term leads and customer conversions, but is not set up to support historical analysis. Learn how third-party cookie deprecation is impacting adtech >> How CDP and DMP solutions can work together A CDP and DMP can work together in a modern martech stack. A DMP can be one source of data for a CDP, and the CDP can also share information back to the DMP. When approached strategically, the question isn’t CDP vs DMP, but how the two systems can support each other. With the right processes in place, a DMP can help bring in new prospects, a CDP can help brands connect and engage, and retargeting and customer cultivation can continue in a seamless loop. More resources for your martech stack Also wondering about the CDP vs CRM debate? We’ve got five factors to consider >> Wondering how to choose a CDP? Check out our approach >> Need to get a big picture view? Get the Ultimate Guide to Creating a Customer Data Strategy >>
After investing in martech solutions — often layering in new platforms and software over time — many organizations find themselves stuck. Whether the root issue is technology, processes, or capabilities, teams get frustrated when their tools don’t deliver. If you’re in a similar position, the best plan is often to step back and review your customer data strategy. It might be time to re-evaluate in light of changing circumstances and shifting organizational goals. You might need a new roadmap to accommodate new privacy regulations. Or you might need a fresh take on how your martech stack fits into your enterprise architecture. Customer data strategies come to life in different ways, but smart implementations always start with well-aligned use cases and clear expectations. In this article, we’ll look at three real-life examples of how organizations we work with got unstuck by creating or refreshing their customer data strategies. Transformation 1: From scattered data to always on marketing Our client managed customer data across multiple platforms, with no connectivity between digital and on-premises touchpoints. Lacking a unified view of customer behavior, the client defaulted to scatter-shot marketing, with disappointing results. As part of a customer data strategy engagement, Fusion helped this client: Define what wasn’t working and identify root causes Align business objectives, technical requirements, and key use cases Recommend near-term remediation and future-state strategies Establish a roadmap with incremental steps toward the solution Then, we worked with the client to implement, test, and refine the customer data strategy, bringing the new solution to life in a way that fit the company’s culture and environment, including: Developing a Master Data Platform Customizing multiple platform APIs to unify customer engagement data Integrating multiple digital platforms Implementing PowerBI for data visualization As a result, the client now has a consolidated view of real-time customer behavior and multi-channel marketing activities, which enables an “always on” approach to customer engagement. Transformation 2: From customer churn to customer retention Another client was experiencing high rates of customer turnover but because they couldn’t discover the cause, they couldn’t develop a strategic plan for turning the trend around. Our team suspected that the key was in the client’s customer data. To identify root causes for the customer churn, we: Assessed the client’s customer data, which was housed in various locations and at different levels of quality across the organization Implemented a centralized data platform to reconcile and unify customer data from different systems of record Consolidated and cleansed the customer data, making it easier to use and analyze Designed machine learning models to test high-value use cases like identifying warning signs of customer churn, flagging high-risk customers that fit the indicators As a result of centralizing and standardizing customer data, and using machine learning to quickly analyze significant current and historical information, our team helped the client flag customers likely to leave and put retention strategies into action to reduce the churn rate. Transformation 3: From disconnect to martech maturity Another client we worked with had invested in powerhouse martech tools but wasn’t seeing the return they had expected. Overwhelmed by the disconnect between expectations and results, the organization asked us to help sort out what had gone wrong. Our team helped the client re-evaluate their customer data strategy to determine the best path forward. Some of our work included: In-depth analysis of existing technology platforms, software, and services Clarifying the customer journey and identifying friction points both for internal and external users Optimizing technology configuration and integrations, including key architectural changes Cleansing data to remove duplicate information and give the client greater confidence in the quality and reliability of the data they collected Implementing process and governance improvements As a result, the client’s marketing team now works faster and more independently of IT, confidently using customer data to automate and personalize marketing touchpoints, and speeding up time to execution for their outreach and campaigns. Get your transformation back on track Ready to do more with your customer data and martech solutions? Defining a customer data strategy and bringing it to life doesn’t have to be so daunting. Whether you need a quick consultation or an in-depth engagement, our team can help you identify opportunities, outline a path forward, and put you on track to optimize the ways you collect, store, and use your customer data. Let’s talk >> Get the Ultimate Guide to Creating a Customer Data Strategy >>
How do I get customers to give me their data? Three trust-building steps toward a first-party data strategy
You understand the implications of cookie deprecation and the importance of pivoting to a first-party data strategy. But, if you’re like many organizations, you might be wondering how to get customers to give you the data you need to make that strategy meaningful. You know that collecting first-party data is a tough ask from customers because you are one yourself. In a digital-first world, where data breaches make the headlines every week and privacy laws continue to tighten, people are increasingly wary of sharing their data. And yet, those same circumstances make it more vital than ever for marketers to collect it. How do you overcome data sharing reluctance and build a foundation of trust for your first-party data strategy? Every business is different, but we’ve identified three key steps that any organization can take to get – or keep – their first-party data gathering on track. Key 1: Be transparent Everyone knows companies need first-party data, but before they hand over their information, they want to know how you’re using it. Studies show that most people are comfortable sharing data with companies they trust, who use the data to meet customer needs — and if you plan on selling or sharing the information, they want to know upfront. Your best move is to explain how you store and use data in plain, uncomplicated language. Make the terms easy to find and the customer’s rights simple to understand. Then, highlight the ways you use the data you collect to benefit your customers. What benefits and experiences can they expect when they let you know about their interests and preferences? Key 2: Deliver value Don’t just talk a big game about personalized content. If you offer incentives in exchange for data, be sure it’s something that your customer actually wants. Your generic and sporadically published newsletter? Probably not it. A guide that helps the customer with a real issue they experience day-to-day? Probably more successful. What content meets the customer’s unique needs? What touchpoints build connections between your brand and the customer’s own values and personal identity? Smart companies build content and offers tailored to customer interests, needs, and buying stage, not broad filler work. Key 3: Be consistent Your customers expect a consistent experience every time they interact with your company, whether that’s on your website, chatting with customer service, or talking with sales. Rather than capturing these touchpoints in data silos, your technology needs to connect information across business units and channels, so the customer is tied back to a centralized profile and so that your organization can connect the dots. Whether you store the information all in one place or keep it dispersed, your analysis should be able to cross boundaries and deliver actionable insights that help you personalize content, marketing, and individual interactions so your customer has a seamless experience with your brand. Take the next step. Building a first-party data strategy is no easy task, but the results are worth it. If you’re not sure how to get started or think you might have gotten off track, we can help. Fusion Alliance helps companies reimagine how they connect with their customers through strategic solutions at the intersection of digital, data, tech, and cloud. Let us know how we can help >> Get the Ultimate Guide to Creating a Customer Data Strategy >>
Navigating the new data landscape Today’s consumers expect increasingly personalized experiences. To deliver that customized experience and increase market share, business leaders rely on personalization. Ever wondered how ads seem to follow you around the internet? That’s personalization at work. And the engine that drives it is data. The changing data landscape makes it essential for companies to re-evaluate their customer data strategies — and fast. Let’s get started. Where we are now As part of building a direct relationship with your customers, you probably collect some form of data with their consent. This information, known as first-party data, can include purchase history, application and website interactions, opt-ins and subscriptions, and the like. A customer provides a business with first-party data with the understanding that the business —and only that business — will use that data to better serve them. But not all data is collected through active consent. All your customer’s online activity and search history is currently tracked by cookies. That information, known as third-party data, can be sold from one business to another, without the customer’s knowledge, with the goal of getting more information about aggregated pools of consumers with similar behaviors. Think about the last time you shopped for a new car. You probably looked up options online or Googled dealerships nearby. Then, BAM! Suddenly all the ads you saw on Facebook, YouTube, and other websites were from car dealerships, with information targeted to the very model you were thinking about. That’s third-party cookies at work! Using third-party cookies, advertisers pay to get one step closer to consumers’ brains, gaining access to the professional status, consumer preferences, and personal interests that are otherwise outside of their first-party scope. Data in real-life While most organizations collect first-party data from their customers, many still rely heavily on third-party data and use a combination of the two to build their personalized customer experience. For example, using in-store Wi-Fi, Walmart collects a combination of first- and third-party data on close to 145 million Americans. Individual profiles include what customers buy, which stores they visit, and where they linger while they shop. Analyzing every clickable action the customer takes on Walmart.com, social media activity, and even weather data completes a full customer profile. By aggregating and analyzing all this data, Walmart makes inferences about highly personal circumstances, knowing that if you’re buying newborn diapers today, they should start hitting you with advertising for toddler sizes in two years. Even without a loyalty program, Walmart’s data and analytics ensure they know their customers and they have what they need to create a personalized shopping experience. Why these trends matter While customers may enjoy the customization of their experience, they don’t necessarily appreciate the creepiness factor of how often their privacy is invaded. The amount of information that consumers provide — knowingly or unknowingly — on a regular basis, which is then sold to other companies, creates a huge risk of data breaches and identity theft. Many organizations and advertisers see the coming deprecation of third-party cookies as a win for privacy, but a loss for businesses. But it doesn’t have to be a one-sided victory. Smart companies are figuring out how to use first-party data to achieve a personalized customer experience, turning the challenge into a win-win opportunity. Leveraging your first-party data To make up for the loss of third-party data, you need your customers to feel comfortable sharing their data with you. First-party data requires customers to be actively involved. Many customers are willing to give their information if they know it is being used responsibly by the business and that they will receive a better customer experience because of it. Your goal is to communicate how the information customers provide your company enables you to deliver a valuable, relevant experience that fits their needs and leaves them in control of their data. Focus on customer retention over acquisition When you deliver a relevant experience to your customers, they’re more likely to stay customers. First-party data allows you to deliver a more customized experience by gaining an understanding of each customer’s preferences for your products and services. You’re then able to re-engage through your owned channels and increase the lifespan of the customer relationship. And it doesn’t mean you have to leave acquisition behind. Just think … happy, loyal customers are likely to refer friends and family. Offer value in exchange for data Customer loyalty programs are an excellent example of successfully using first-party data, especially where there is a value-add such as accumulating points, getting a discount, early-bird notifications, and the like. In this case, customers are incentivized to provide their data and you can build a unique customer profile that will allow you to customize their interaction with your brand in the future. Create personalized content First-party data helps you discover who your customers are and find out about their habits and preferences directly from the source. Insights gained through first-party data analysis allow you to create different targets and strategies for delivering content personalized to your most loyal customers. It’s a trade-off The reality is, by increasing consumer privacy, businesses lose access to aggregated information and the ability to mass personalize and customers potentially lose the personalized experiences they’ve come to expect. The biggest question remains: can organizations fill the gap and start collecting and leveraging quality first-party data? The time is now Data and marketing teams must work together, and fast, to create first-party customer data strategies ahead of the cookie deprecation timeline. Building processes to collect quality data, keep it safe, analyze it correctly, and use it to create meaningful customer experiences won’t be easy, but laying that groundwork now can position your company for success in the new customer data landscape. This article was originally published on CDO Magazine.
Third-party cookies are a staple in a marketer’s arsenal and have been for decades. So, now that they are soon to be fully eliminated, marketing teams are panicking. Are we truly ready for a future without this key source of third-party data? While some companies have started to plan for a cookieless future, most still don’t have a baseline understanding of how their business will be affected — much less how to roll out a strategy to operate in this new world. It’s an important problem to solve for. And not all solutions are created equal. What marketers choose to invest in now could make or break their marketing campaigns for years to come. Why are third-party cookies being deprecated? The reality is that this has been a long time coming — Mozilla started phasing out third-party cookies in 2013. But now, Google is expected to phase out this online tracking tool in 2023, and Apple has moved their mobile device ID (the Identifier for Advertisers or IDFA) to opt-in only. Data privacy is a growing concern for consumers, and businesses must keep up. As consumer data gets collected and passed around between countless third parties, there are benefits to targeted marketing, but there are also more possibilities for harmful data breaches. And with multiple pro-privacy laws coming to fruition in the U.S. — such as the California Consumer Privacy Act and similar laws in Colorado and Virginia — organizations are being held more accountable for the data they own and use. Those who prepare for the change will stand out from the crowd by delivering relevant, timely, and insightful customer experiences compared to the one-size-fits-all experiences of the competition. Those who haven’t prepared will need to build that strategy quickly, all in an environment where there’s no clear replacement and simply less data available. So how do you do it? Here’s how you can still create a customized customer experience without third-party cookies. Leverage the first-party data you already have First-party data is often your best source for accurate and specific consumer information. Increasing first-party data has been a priority for marketers for years. According to a 2018 study, 85% of U.S. marketers said that increasing their first-party data is a high priority. And if you think about it, you’re probably already collecting data on your customers with different tools (e.g., email, social, etc). But there are better ways you can leverage first-party data. For example, look at your CRM and sales tools. When utilized correctly, you can evaluate customer data based on interaction reports, performance metrics, conversion rates, etc. Now is the time to look at the tools your company is already using and leverage them to reach the right audience with the right content. Personalize customer experiences with declared data Declared data, a type of first-party data, is one of the richest sources of customer information you can get. This is the data a customer gives you themselves in one-on-one interactions. This is the most accurate information about their desires and demographics. As Forbes explains, consumers are happy to share their information to get a more personalized experience. So don’t be afraid to ask for your customer data when it makes sense — it will be more important to have this declared data than it ever has been before. Utilize email marketing Although email marketing may not be new, it can still deliver ROIs of over 4,000%. It is a great channel for driving sales, nurturing relationships, and understanding your customers. Most importantly, it allows you to collect customer data through opt-ins — and then that data can be segmented by location, company size, position, etc. You can deliver unique offers and messages to each group for the best response. Businesses can use tools like HubSpot to build lists, segment communications, and create automated journeys. Email will become the go-to first-party data targeting solution as third-party cookies are being phased out. Your business can market to customers when they’ve left a website and utilize this information to create more customized messaging and experiences. In addition, you can utilize email lists within advertising platforms like Google Ads where subscribers can be retargeted and brought back to convert. A lot of what third-party cookies provided can be achieved with proper email marketing. Examine your partnerships for customer data exchanges You may be thinking about how you are handling third-party data, but how are your vendors preparing for the change? By leveraging the right technology, companies can safely and securely discover overlapping customers without exposing personal identifiable information (PII) or breaking data privacy laws. These insights alone can help you quickly assess the untapped potential of a collaboration. Now is the time to work with partners to begin exploring the safe exchange of data for the benefit of both parties. Overhaul your data management strategy This is a great opportunity to change the way you manage and leverage your customer data to develop targeting, execution, direct marketing, and customized experiences. This does require effort and investment from your organization (e.g., investing in a quality consumer data platform (CDP) or a great CRM system). Ultimately, your investment results in better control, a more customized experience, and a greater ROI. While CDPs and CRMs offer two different marketing and sales data management solutions with differing strengths, you don’t necessarily have to choose between them. It’s possible to use a CRM as an input and output channel to a CDP. And, in turn, use a CDP to provide a 360° customer view data set within the CRM. Choosing both a CDP and a CRM can deliver an amazing customer experience and tremendous business value: achieving high marks in customer satisfaction and providing integrated tracking and engagement. Learn more about the differences between a CDP and CRM, and what could work best for your organization. By making the investment now in a new and improved data strategy, you can set yourself up for success in a world without third-party cookies. Look forward to the cookieless future The elimination of third-party cookies will fundamentally change digital marketing as we know it. But it also presents an opportunity to move away from an old standard and push your online marketing into the future. By maintaining a solid understanding of all the forces at play and updating your strategies to prepare for the transition, you can set your organization up for success and keep you ahead of your competition. Start now with our risk assessment workshop. Ready to see how this change is going to impact your organization? Register for our upcoming webinar, “Does cookie deprecation affect me? And 5 other key questions to ask before it’s too late.”
The pandemic made it clear that traditional banking is a thing of the past. Online banking had already been on the rise, but a 200% jump in new mobile banking registrations in April 2020 established that customers are able and willing to change. As more Americans bank virtually, banks are fighting to meet customer demand? And beyond the challenges set forth by the pandemic, “digital natives” like Rocket Mortgage, Venmo, Stripe, and Robinhood are all vying for business. These technology-forward organizations position themselves differently from traditional financial institutions and are attracting a younger user base for their services. But a traditional bank has advantages over these challengers: Familiarity and history: Your personal relationships and history with customers mean that your bank is often more aware of their history. And customer questions can be answered in person instead of being routed through a call center. Deep and rich data: Historical data can prove invaluable for ML efforts. Customer deposit amounts, payments, and balance information can be used to predict future behavior. Preference for personal banking: Customers, especially those with a high net-worth, may have discomfort with digital channel dependency for wealth management. A new brand might be a risk, and they could feel uncomfortable not having a specific person to call if something goes awry. As we get back to our “new normal,” traditional banks can use the rich data and relationships they have with customers to their advantage. Forward-thinking leaders are reimagining what it looks like to do business, and they’re using machine learning to elevate the customer experience. Discover how you can use machine learning to create engaging and profitable relationships with your customers. Every bank can find value from machine learning Machine learning might sound like a type of data analysis useful to only the largest of organizations, but its concepts can scale to meet the needs of small and mid-sized banks too. When we use the word machine learning (ML), we are referring to machines and systems that can learn from “experience” supplied by data and algorithms. In banking specifically, ML algorithms can be used to identify patterns in data beyond what humans are capable of observing, and these learnings can be applied to new data sets. It is now possible to improve the customer experience using ML. By parsing customer transaction data, ML can identify clues and patterns ahead of time, even before the customer considers taking action. For example, the process of buying a home and obtaining a mortgage might begin with small savings accumulation or an increase in deposit amounts from wages. ML models can assess banking-specific data like credit patterns, risk tolerance, and price sensitivity, and can be coupled with demographic data like age, median income, and distance to branch. The goal of using ML data in this use case is to target prospective customers with offers most relevant to their situation and stay ahead of customer demands. Knowing where to begin — and where to focus efforts Machine learning has such a wide variety of applications, it can be difficult to know where to start. Identifying a use case for customer-focused ML expenditures is a good first step. In general, we have found that you can benefit from starting with a use case with low or medium relative complexity. Examples focused on improving the customer experience include: Predicting service line interest (HELOC, mortgage refinance, etc.) Streamlining loan approval processes Increasing lines of credit Improving fraud alert notifications With so many use cases to choose from, it can be easy to get lost in the planning for each example. Instead, try focusing on one area at a time. Using your strengths, combined with ML concepts, you can deliver an optimal customer experience that digital challengers just can’t match. Need help getting started? Check out our Machine Learning Jumpstart program. Cross-selling across the relationship with machine learning You can leverage machine learning to determine not only which customers would be a good fit for a mortgage loan, but also the other products that customers might need. Thinking about a mortgage loan, a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) might be a good match for a new homeowner. In any case, the message and product can be tailored to meet the customer’s specific needs. Another part of cross-selling is to personalize the offer based on the customer’s history and propensity to buy. Perhaps an interest rate would be meaningful for one type of customer, while a waived application processing fee would entice another. For individuals who identified as being interested in high revenue products, the marketing effort can be even more personalized, like a phone call or an in-person event invitation. Applying machine learning in real life The following illustration is an example of how an internal dashboard might appear to a banker or service representative. For any specific product, each person has a percentage likelihood that they will take action. Individual model scores are shown, along with next steps, such as outreach about an investment account, or mailing a promotion about mortgage rate refinancing. In this example, marketing inputs, like website data, are combined with transaction and deposit information. When a banker or service representative encounters a customer, either in person in on the phone, they can suggest specific next steps, or ask if the customer has questions. Having a dashboard with this information enables banking employees to be empowered to guide the conversation with data in real time. Related Case Study: Machine learning predicts outcomes at Primary Financial How does a financial services firm improve sales targeting to predict its clients’ desires to invest? Machine learning was the answer for PFC. Learn more. FAQs about machine learning and banking Does the machine learning process work fast enough to enable real-time benefits? For all but the most complex scenarios, yes! Normally, ML is fast enough to be integrated into real-time transactions. Does machine learning get in the way of compliance requirements? In general, no. By using existing data that you obtained or using your data in coordination with third-party data, you are not running amiss of privacy and compliance concerns. How do we ensure the use case we pick machine learning is right given that there are so many to choose from? We recommend focusing initially on those low-cost, high-ROI use cases with a low-medium relative complexity. Given additional experience, context, pipelines, and an understanding of how advanced analytics programs operate, then more complex initiatives can be undertaken. Data reliability can be a concern. Using low-quality data is not advised, but it is possible to start projects with small data sets. Engaging with a third party to evaluate your situation is advised in situations like this. Reimagining customer insights & relationships Banks that employ machine learning will have a portfolio of more customers than ever who are positioned for a variety of banking products delivered in a digital, personalized, and meaningful way. Now is the time to act and implement machine learning to meet customers where they are, using the contact methods that they desire and delivering the products and services to best meet their needs. Need help building your use case and plan? Access our Machine Learning Use Case Guide for Banks. Want to dig deeper? Check out our webinar on this topic.
Most people take websites for granted. They pay bills, book flights, and download white papers online with relative ease. But not everyone assumes that digital tools are designed with them in mind, and that’s a failure for everyone. One in four U.S. adults report having a disability that impacts major life activities. That’s 61 million friends, neighbors, and family members who deserve a digital experience that is just as user friendly as anyone else’s. Integrating website accessibility into your design process and culture is a step toward addressing this very human problem of exclusivity. And while a sense of justice is enough to move many organizations to act, there is also a strong business case. Offering a user experience that caters to only a select group of users alienates potential brand advocates and carries serious legal risks. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act Title III Regulations, public properties, including public websites, have to adhere to accessibility parameters. In other words, your digital presence must be designed and coded so that people can carry out their desired tasks, from completing a form to making a purchase. This should extend beyond your basic site to search tools, mobile apps, and social media. Organizations often find themselves on the wrong side of this issue. Rather than proactively carving out a path to invite accessibility in as a priority, they are reacting to negative feedback and even lawsuits. These companies are well-meaning but don’t know what to do to ensure compliance. To help keep you up to speed, here are six ways accessibility will impact businesses and website design in the near future: 1. Lawsuits will escalate From 2017 to 2018, the number of website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal court under Title III of the ADA shot up from 814 to 2,258. This trend will likely continue as more users hold noncompliant websites and other digital tools accountable. Recent high-profile lawsuits have called out Winn-Dixie, Beyoncé, Burger King, Rolex Watch, and Amazon. In a particularly unsavory 2019 story, instead of fixing its online ordering feature, Domino’s pizza responded to a blind customer’s lawsuit with a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to quash the case. 2. Standard design processes will change To achieve a more inclusive user experience, designers and developers follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for web standards. It’s part of their process, showing up as captions on videos for people with impaired hearing or spoken versions of site copy read aloud by screen readers. Before accessibility can become an intrinsic part of the website design process, organizations will have to rally their troops and emphasize its importance. In the near future, writing alt-text for images, ensuring all content can be accessed with a keyboard, and making sure text can be viewed at 200% without impairing readability will be second nature. While we aren’t there yet, the additional steps needed to build a compliant site will become standard procedure over the next few years. 3. Know-how will develop fast Remember the 1990s when accessibility ramps were tacked onto commercial buildings like ugly metal afterthoughts, function-rich but design-poor? Today, ramps are architectural features, such as switchbacks crisscrossing wide flights of stairs, and curving slopes that add to a structure’s beauty. In digital, we aren’t working with hammers and drills, and we’ve had 29 years to appreciate the precepts of the ADA. The speed at which website accessibility can and should evolve will be much faster than its brick-and-mortar counterparts. Plus, adherence helps companies compete more effectively for the more than $645 billion of disposable annual income that Americans with disabilities control, creating an additional layer of urgency. 4. Site facelifts will facilitate compliance Organizations regularly upgrade their websites and apps to make them faster, more secure or better optimized for search. Add accessibility to that list. When talking to our clients about site improvements, accessibility is at the forefront of conversations about website facelifts. These are often great opportunities to ramp up (pun intended) inclusion efforts. 5. Someone will own accessibility Who on your team will lead an initiative around accessibility? How will this person develop knowledge and implement more stringent ADA accessibility user testing? Is this a role for design/development or someone in HR/legal? More organizations are asking themselves these questions, and many are looking to outside partners to help them get and stay compliant. Whether it’s handled internally or externally, accessibility will become part of someone’s job description. 6. Audits will head off future legal fights ADA lawsuits and subsequent news stories can burn through an organization’s brand equity, repel customers, and rack up hefty legal expenses. When performed by a trusted digital partner, an audit can bring to light web accessibility infractions so that you can deal with them before they impact your audience. (One caveat: beware of predatory auditors. Scammers have been known to offer auditing services and then threaten to expose noncompliant clients to the ADA if they don’t sign on for follow-up projects.) As organizations take first steps to prioritize accessibility, initial results might look and feel like that ugly ramp from the 1990s. At Fusion Alliance, the growing pains have been worth it to ensure that our user experience offers everyone the same level of respect and compassion. Making accessibility part of your digital design conversations now will better serve every human in the future. Don’t wait to talk to your team. And if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out.
A massive storm is brewing in the banking, financial services, and insurance industries, and when it strikes, it will be devastating to the unprepared. That storm is the unprecedented transfer of wealth, $3.9 trillion worth, that will be passed from the hands of older generations to younger in the next eight years or so. The rains have already started to trickle, but when they come in full force, if your organization hasn’t already connected with younger generations, you’ll see millions of dollars in wealth walk right out your door. If your bank doesn't have a plan in place for customer retention, it’s not too late to take action. Consider that millennials (born circa 1981-1997, also called Gen Y), are now the largest generation, accounting for over 25% of the population. They are followed by Gen Z (born circa 2000-present), those born with digital devices in their hands, who comprise more than 20% of the population. The potential purchasing power of these generations combined is something that can make or break banks, wealth management firms, and insurance companies. Yet most businesses in these industries still don’t have a game plan to connect with an entire population. Will your company be different? The problem is complex, but no matter where you stand, a solution is within your reach if you create a strategy informed by data and insights that has a clear road map to success. Here are five tips to building successful customer retention strategies for your bank, so you can emerge strong on the other side of the impending wealth transfer. 1. Understand the challenges of banking for millennials Recognize that this is a whole new audience you’re dealing with. The old ways won’t work in the new economy of connected consumerism. A 360-degree view of your current customers will help you gain insights into what the older generation wants, but with an eye towards the future consumers of your brand. They’re not like baby boomers (born 1946-1964) or Generation Xers (born 1965-1979). This newer generation sees things differently than their parents and grandparents did. Get to know this younger audience on their terms and understand why they have different belief and value systems, why they view traditional institutions skeptically. Examine the world from their eyes. They’ve seen that industry giants who their elders once perceived as invincible (e.g., Lehman Brothers) are now gone. Or that others, like Wells Fargo, AIG, and Countrywide, had to be rescued by the government from the brink of bankruptcy, with taxpayers footing the bill. They’ve seen the effects of parents being laid off after years of loyal service to a corporation. They know families who lost their homes when the housing bubble burst. Can you blame them for being leery of traditional institutions? An Androit Digital survey examining millennials’ brand loyalty reported that 77% said they use different criteria to evaluate brands than their parents do. Are you aware of what criteria they are using to evaluate your brand? If not, you need to arm yourself with answers. Research shows that younger generations frequently turn to friends, independent online research, reviews, and social media for decision making. For example, an astounding 93% of millennials read reviews before making a purchase, and 89% “believe friends’ comments more than company claims,” according to an IBM Institute for Business Value survey. Your future hinges on understanding these behaviors. A report by Gallup on the insurance sector revealed, “Millennials are more than twice as likely (27% vs. 11% respectively) as all other generations to purchase their [insurance] policies online rather than through an agent.” Online purchasing is far from the mainstream among insurance consumers overall: “74% originally purchased with an agent vs. 14% online – but if this trend among millennials continues to grow, it could substantially change the way insurance companies interact with customers in the coming years,” the report stated. Likewise, “Banks are losing touch with an entire dominant generation,” according to Joe Kessler, president of Cassandra Global. The Cassandra Report cited that 58% of young adults said they would rather borrow money from friends or family instead of a traditional institution. Two-thirds of the respondents said it is “hard to know where to learn about what financial services they might need.” In other words, when it comes to banking, millennials don’t know who to trust. Begin the process of getting to know this younger clientele by conducting research that will help you gain insights into what they stand for, how and where they interact, and what their expectations are of your industry, your company, and your brand. By evaluating that data, you will be able to set the process for communicating with and building different ways to engage with these new young consumers. Your interactions and communications must be seamless and easy and reflect that you can talk in their terms. You’ll need to look at this emerging demographic with a “digital lens” because this is how millennials engage with brands. What are those channels, what are their preferences? What other services can you make available in a seamless and frictionless and customized way? If you don’t take the time to get to know your audience, you won’t be able to lay the foundation for a successful strategy to engage them. 2. Make young customer retention your bank’s primary mission Younger generations, millennials especially, are driven by a different set of values. They want a work/life balance. They like to donate money. They don’t want a lot of stuff. They like to travel. They want to experience life. They question long-standing rules that don’t make sense to them. So, develop your business strategy around a purpose or a mission – one that they will connect with. Build upon the information you learned about your younger customers in tip #1, then map this customer’s journey with behavioral analytics. Evaluate the digital channels and content that your younger clients find compelling. Now you can create a strategy and roadmap to engage these customers. 3. Build your customer experience for different audiences A strong customer experience (CX), one that creates loyalty, is one that is personalized, timely, relevant, appropriate, and built on trust. The more customizable the user experience, the better. According to Janrain, 74% of online users are frustrated with brands that provide content that doesn’t reflect their personal interests. You know users want to be recognized on their terms, but you have a problem. How do you build a single CX that addresses vastly different generations with different behaviors and interests? Is there a way to reconcile their differences via a single CX? The answer is no. For the time being, you need to develop both. If someone tells you differently, beware. Think about it. In wealth management, banking, and insurance, the older generation still holds the money and keeps the lights on for your business. The newer generation will get that money within a decade, but if you go full-throttle and build a single, mobile-first CX, you’re going to alienate the people holding the purse strings. In the next few pivotal years, your bank’s customer retention will be heavily dependent on how well you address each audience on their own terms. How to cater to older generations Older folks prefer offline channels, like walking into a branch, agency, or brokerage firm. They like to do business face to face or via phone conversations with tellers, bankers, agents, and wealth advisors. Online, they like having a “control panel” style experience on a desktop, such as you might find with financial trading platforms. This is how you build trust and timely, relevant, personalized experiences. Online, build a web portal to appeal to the interests, needs, and communications preferences of the older generation. The younger generation will use the web portal now and then, but that is not going to be the experience they associate with your brand – because you’ll give them their own. How to cater to younger generations Give the younger generation mobile apps and SMS communications. With over 87% of millennials saying they are never without their phone, this is where you should reach them. They have no interest in stepping foot in a building that feels like an institution or talking to some random agent, broker, or salesperson when they can do everything quickly and effortlessly on a mobile device. Take the information you learned in tips #1 and #2 and build strong loyalty, providing timely, relevant, personalized, and appropriate experiences on a digital dimension. As you build a CX specifically tailored to banking for millennials, you’ll find you can gain loyalty on their terms because you’ll be able to interact in a more agile, nimble, and personalized way. The older generation will probably use the mobile app for simple tasks like checking information and balances, but they’re going to associate their comfort with your brand with the CX they use most – the desktop. Two CXs could be the right solution for today’s transitioning market, but keep in mind that there are additional channels through which you can build loyalty with these younger audiences across the digital landscape. For example, you can share educational, informative content through social media channels. 4. Knowledge transfer to the younger generation Everyone in wealth management, insurance, and financial services already has a foot in the door with the younger generation. That connection is the strong relationship between existing older customers and their offspring. Leverage it. First, understand that the older generation wants to take care of the younger ones by leaving money to them, but they are worried that the next generation doesn’t have the knowledge or discipline to hold onto and grow that money. There are so many stories of young people, like athletes or celebrities, getting rich quickly, getting bad advice about money, and then squandering it all away. What if their children make the same mistakes? Help address that fear and protect those kids by arming your older customers with educational tools on how to prevent this from happening. For this CX, you’ll need to develop portals and educational content, manage and market that content, and make it come to life in an updated website (geared to the older generation) that features whitepapers, articles, or videos, such as “Talking to Your Children About Money 101” and the like. Educate this audience on how to talk about the benefits of insurance or long-term investment strategies and provide them with incentives to set up meetings with themselves, their offspring, and you. The younger generation isn’t interested in talking to an institution, but they will listen to the advice of the parent or grandparent giving them this money. Let the parents and grandparents have meaningful conversations that hold much more weight than your business sending a bulk email to junior that says, “Invest in an IRA.” Now when members of the younger generation, the recipients of transferred wealth, decide to check out your company on the advice of their parents or grandparents, they will access your relevant app that speaks their language and addresses things of interest to them. They’ll soon figure out that you’re not some stodgy institution and will be much more open to a discussion when their parents suggest a conversation with your company’s brokers, advisors, or agents. This is how the knowledge transfer will occur organically, growing your bank’s customer retention along the way as you build a relationship of loyalty and trust. You not only will give the benefactors peace of mind that their offspring will be good stewards of their fortune when the time comes, but you’ll keep the money in-house because you took time to connect with and earn the trust of the young beneficiaries. 5. Make use of emerging technologies in banking to satisfy the ever-changing digital landscape At this point, you know you could benefit from two CXs. The web platform focuses on the needs and concerns of the older generation that holds the wealth today. The mobile platform addresses the younger person who will inherit the wealth, providing guidance, teaching the basics of how to invest or buy insurance, and will be chock full of quizzes, games, personalized spreadsheets, automated tools, and more. The challenge is that when the older generations pass on, the desktop experience will be moot. You don’t want to have to rebuild all the technology infrastructure that you worked so hard to establish. The answer? Don’t build applications or tools – build platforms for the future that can be adapted as the younger generation takes over and as mobile-first interactions become predominant five years from now. Don’t overlook the fact that more cost-effective emerging technologies in banking, such as infrastructure in the cloud, will be a necessary ingredient for success. Banks and insurance companies are reluctant to get in the cloud, but if you understand that most applications are going to be in the cloud five years from now, you understand the critical nature of developing these capabilities today. The cloud enables rapid changes to meet market and customer demands. It is flexible and nimble. You pay for what you use, can pay for service or infrastructure, and simultaneously increase security and reliability. To those unfamiliar with the cloud, security can be a scary proposition. However, with major cloud providers like Microsoft and Amazon employing an army of experts to ensure security and regulatory compliance, the cloud is safer from a security standpoint than most on-premises data storage. While 85% of companies using the cloud report they are confident their providers are able to provide a secure environment, 90% of IT managers reported they are not confident in their own companies’ ability to detect security problems internally. If you’re building a flexible technology platform with the right digital CXs, infrastructure that looks to the future and cloud capabilities, then your organization will be positioned for success when the wealth transfer hits in the next decade. Final thoughts on customer retention strategies for banks There are more than 75 million millennials out there spending $600 billion every year, and that number is only going to increase. They are graduating from college with massive amounts of debt, face a precarious job market, and are typically naïve about financial matters and insurance.The companies who aggressively work to offer practical tools and advice on banking for millennials are the ones who will outperform their competition in the future. It’s not too late, but you cannot wait to take action. If a business does not begin building the bridge between current wealth owners and soon-to-be wealth recipients until after the wealth-transfer process has begun, it will experience a devastating economic blow and get left behind by those who have embraced this shift. The ball is in your court Everyone has predicted that the landscape of the wealth management, banking, and insurance markets will change dramatically due to the digital disruption and younger generations, but with the right strategy in place, your organization can emerge as a leader. Look at this as an opportunity to differentiate. A digital strategy will be the key to your success. Don’t look at digital as an application. Digital is the way all future generations will engage and interact. Leverage it today and do it well to tie the present with the future. Your formula for success is to create an actionable plan that is both informed and driven by insights and data on what people buy, how, what they expect, how they feel, and whether the experience is personalized, relevant, and timely. You need to understand your audience and use those insights to feed a strategy that ties into the mission and purpose of your customers. Bring your strategy to life in a digital channel that sits on top of flexible technology. Measure your customers’ experiences and level of engagement with your brand, and then make adjustments, continually working off of research and data. Follow this formula, and eight years from now, you’ll be the organization that is reaping the rewards because you understood how to keep millions of dollars from leaving your company. Need help improving your customer retention in banking? Let us know.
It’s not a secret that many brick-and-mortar retail stores, especially chains, are struggling. Nieman Marcus, JC Penney, and Sears are all in various states of bankruptcy and have closed stores, while other chains have closed their doors completely. Established, once-beloved stores face irrelevance or even extinction as more people turn to online shopping. However, by transitioning to cloud applications for retail, businesses can reduce costs, improve relevance, and keep customers coming back. The Extinction of Newspapers Just like brick-and-mortar retail stores, newspapers were an essential part of daily life for hundreds of years, and owning or operating one was a stable, reliable method of building wealth and influence. However, the past few decades have seen thousands of once profitable newspapers shut their doors. This path to extinction started with the invention of the first web browser in 1993, and in only 15 years, Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, and online national services pulled people away from their local newspapers. When customers started canceling subscriptions, advertisers moved their money to online platforms, too. But it wasn’t just the arrival of the internet that caused newspapers to fail. The problem was that newspapers either underutilized or completely ignored it until it was too late to change the tide against them. Now, brick and mortar stores face the same challenge, but adopting cloud applications for retail may be key to preventing another mass extinction event. Reacting and Leveraging Technology Changes To stay relevant and keep their doors open, traditional retailers, both small businesses and enterprise-level companies alike, must react to economic and societal trends while leveraging their strengths over online shopping. First, let’s consider the challenges and factors that retail stores need to consider: Affordability and accessibility of mobile devices makes online shopping more convenient Increased reliance on technology Demographic changes Consumer behaviors related to price sensitivity and changing buying preferences Consumer need for seamless, holistic experience Shift toward cashless society While a retail store may find it difficult to adapt to these factors, they aren’t insurmountable. They can leverage several key strengths that will keep customers walking through the doors: Local physical presence serves immediate need Friendly customer service Opportunity for customers to physically interact, experience, and see products Using Cloud Native Applications for a Retail Store of the Future While ecommerce can be a supplemental opportunity to drive more revenue into the company, having a subsidiary, inferior online presence won’t be enough to keep a company successful. Instead, by transitioning to cloud native applications, retail stores can improve customer experiences, streamline operations, and reduce costs to ensure the company can survive and thrive. Let’s consider what a store of the future, like the one illustrated above, could be like. As a potential customer gets within a certain proximity of the store, they receive a notification on their phone of a flash sale. The customer stops by the store, sees what they want, then using the store’s mobile app, they can scan the product, pay, and leave with it. The whole experience is fast, simple, and seamless. For this scenario to occur, retailers need several components: 1. A Mobile Application First, a robust mobile application can automate the notification through geofencing, a location-based service that triggers a response when the device enters a virtual perimeter. Using real-time inventory for all stores, the application can create flash sales on overstocked products or dynamically increase the price of in-demand items. For this to work, a mobile application, cloud applications, and APIs will work together to support the purchasing, inventory reconciliation, and automated marketing efforts. At the same time cloud services will collect IoT data from mobile devices and in-store sensors to improve retailer strategies and influence customers to make purchases. 2. Robust Data Strategy To ingest and process high-velocity data and build or adjust strategies in real time, retailers need a solid data strategy in place. Typically, retailers do not know what happens within a particular store until the next business day after point of sale systems have uploaded data and overnight batch processes have loaded the data into data warehouses for reporting purposes. This delay can lead to missed opportunities and missed sales. 3. Mobile Point of Sale Having an intuitive, immersive mobile application that customers can use to purchase products is not just convenient. It offers the retailer the opportunity to retire traditional point of sale systems which offers several benefits: Increased velocity of sales and inventory data Single sales engine for both online and store sales Elimination of complex and expensive point-of-sale systems Reduction in headcount or repurposing of headcount to improve customer service Decreased dependency on staff and a corresponding reduction in scheduling complexities Ability to target customers with personalized offers and incentives Cloud Solutions for Retail Stores can Protect Your Business While future-proofing a retail store requires a different data and technology strategy than what has been used in the past, these changes to business processes and decision making will be key to keeping your company solvent. Want to learn more about how cloud solutions for retail can help your company? Let’s connect.
Businesses that seek to deliver an outstanding customer experience face challenges today due to elevated customer demands and expectations. To be successful, you must rethink and reorganize your experience strategy to accommodate these demands and shorten the gap between business goals and customer needs. Here are 10 steps that will help you get ahead in today’s experience economy and build a customer experience strategy. Step 1: Discover Before you start to develop a customer experience strategy, the CX lead should uncover how the brand is currently experienced by customers. Is there a clear vision for the future? Interview the following roles for input and perspective as you proceed with the discovery process. This input can be useful in defining customer experience strategy and aligning business operatives to a unified objective. Roles will depend largely on the business and its ecosystem. Typical key influencers in customer experience adoption include: Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) — the CX visionary VP of Sales Chief Information Officer (CIO) — the technology Chief Financial Officer (CFO) — the bottom line Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Step 2: Research your current customer The first step in a customer experience initiative is to perform a situational analysis using qualitative and quantitative research. This includes in-depth customer and employee/stakeholder interviews, surveys, web analytics data, and user studies. Gathering this information will help you gain insights that will inform your strategy development to answer the question, “Where do we stand right now?” The purpose of this research is to identify where business value, customer value, and opportunity align. Analyzing data to understand your company’s business, customers and the marketplace in which you compete connects insights to strategy. This step in customer analysis is crucial. Step 3: Analyze business missions, values, and processes Obtain a 360-degree view of your organizational mission, values, and processes. The goal of doing this is to restructure operations to align with a successful CX strategy. Business objectives To understand your company’s strategic priorities, ask the right questions about current business objectives. For example: Is the current objective to win new customers or broaden the revenue stream from existing customers? Is the business entering new markets or bringing new products/service offerings into the current one? Brand promise A successful CX strategy delivers on the promises a brand makes. You may find it helpful to review recent brand image studies or new branding initiatives. This is often helpful as you define where improvements can be made and what aspects of the brand resonate with customers. Business ecosystem Document people, processes, and systems to determine which aspects of the business best support customer journeys and where upgrades or improvements are needed. A great way to accomplish this task is to create a diagram called an ecosystem map. This will illuminate the connections and technologies needed to support a CX strategy. It will also highlight what core assets your organization already has, around which you can build your CX strategy. Step 4: Align business processes with CX opportunity Gaining a 360 view of the business enables operatives to: restructure goals to create lasting value through a CX strategy, identify barriers in reaching objectives, and define how a CX strategy will accomplish objectives. Knowing the mission, values, and processes will help answer the core questions surrounding a CX strategy: How well do internal processes support customer journeys? Where do gaps exist between customer expectations and current experience? What assets can be used to enhance the customer experience? What new technology, people, or processes are required to accomplish new objectives through CX strategy? The answers to these questions will paint a clear picture of: current business contribution versus potential, what is needed to govern customer experience, and the resources available to deliver meaningful customer experiences. Step 5: Map your customer journeys Collecting and analyzing customer data will provide critical insights into your company’s existing and target customer base in terms of needs, wants, greatest pain points, and moments of truth. Once the customer data is analyzed, operatives can now paint vivid pictures, or “personas” of who your customers are. Each persona is used to map out that type of customer’s key journeys and the customer experience currently being delivered, summarized in a customer journey map. The customer journey map can then be used to conduct a gap analysis to understand where the business falls short to inform the new CX strategy. A diagram can be used to identify all the brand touchpoints a customer interacts with to summarize your findings, as well as the relationships among other people, processes, and technologies working behind the scenes. Together, this creates the customer experience. This complete picture identifies hidden relationships, root causes for customer experience failures, and provides the 360-degree view of the customer required to deliver meaningful experiences. Step 6: Analyze your competitors, market, and industry Now that there is a clear understanding of business and your customers, it’s important to know your competitors and what experiences they offer. Use both internal and external resources to research competitive and market threats and to gain an overview of the current competitive landscape and market environment. Your research should include an assessment of comparative customer growth, churn, financial performance, consumer attitudes, technology trends, and specific targeted CRM capabilities. This research will help provide a fact-based foundation that identifies specific gaps between current position and competitors. These gaps can serve as key considerations to guide the development of the CX strategy and materialize the business case for change that can be presented to executives. Step 7: Define goals and SMART objectives The next step is to analyze all the insights gained about the current state to create a series of compelling strategic goals and objectives that will serve as the foundation of the CX strategy. The strategic goals and objectives are developed to specifically address the various competitive threats, issues, and opportunities identified throughout the strategy project. Strategic goals and objectives represent major platforms or themes, such as: Developing a deeper understanding of customer satisfaction Facilitating more meaningful customer interactions Enabling the end-to-end customer experience Enhancing campaign and marketing effectiveness Establishing actionable business and customer analytics Improving speed to market and agility Establishing a foundation for operational effectiveness Step 8: Develop your CX strategy Now that your vision has been established for the customer experience, goals have been created and SMART objectives are in place. It’s finally time to develop your strategy to answer the next important question, “How do we get there?” Creating a roadmap will serve as a strategic document and canvas that outlines the strategies and tactics across customer experience channels that will drive customer engagement and deliver results — closing the gap between the current experience and the future-state vision. The roadmap should tie in defined business goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for measuring success. To kick off roadmap development, begin by defining major customer experience strategic initiatives, such as: Explore pain points and barriers to CX (identified in step 4) Define customer commitments Utilize the customer engagement strategy to create an overall CX strategy Brand messaging and voice strategy Distill what matters about your business into a voice and message that creates a memorable, empathetic experience designed to establish credibility and authority with your customers. Engagement strategy Engagement strategy is a continuation of experience strategy. Customer experience is the perception or impression of those interactions. Customer engagement is the interaction/behavior by the brand or customer and the means by which their relationship is created. With an engagement strategy, identifying key customer segments and mapping the plan and approach connects your customers with your business and brand. An effective customer engagement strategy will foster brand growth and loyalty. Read more: 11 behaviors for successful digital customer engagement. Step 9: Measure your CX strategy To understand if a CX strategy is a success, as well as where and how to make improvements, you must develop a strategy to measure success. The measurement strategy should use metrics to track data sources. Business value will be traceable using CX metrics and KPIs. These KPIs typically fall into three categories: descriptive, perceptive, and outcome-based metrics. Descriptive metrics answer questions like when, where, and how your business is interacting with customers. Perceptive metrics try to capture the customer’s perception of the interaction they had with your business. Reviews, ratings, or Net Promoter Score metrics (also called NPS, which measures customer loyalty in terms of how likely a customer is to recommend you to others) fall into this category. Outcomes are metrics that capture the actions taken by customers before or after interacting with your business. Examples include calls to action on your website, such as online sales, promotions, or form fills. Some great places to look when defining these metrics are the customer journey map, ecosystem map, and 360-degree view of the customer diagram. They will help you hone in on the experiences that matter most to your customers and business. Step 10: Optimize your CX strategy Customer experience strategy isn’t set and done. It’s an ongoing process. With a measurement strategy in place, executives should revisit the CX strategy and regularly look for ways to manage and optimize efforts. CX strategy can be affected by many factors, including macroeconomic trends, new marketplace regulations, shifts in consumer behavior, new competition, and new technology. It is important to continue monitoring these factors as you focus on implementation. Now that you know how to develop a successful CX strategy, you can join the leaders who are transforming their businesses now to adapt to the experience economy and gain a competitive edge. Need help? Let us know.
As brands adapt to the consumer-driven Experience Economy, they must be able to evolve their businesses for the digital age. This isn’t an easy task, especially for companies stuck in a mindset that their business is still driven by traditional direct marketing. Evolving the business requires a revamp of most companies’ customer engagement strategies, as well as digital organizational transformation. We went ahead and laid out some of the most significant roadblocks that hinder organizations as they try to implement a successful digital customer engagement initiative and potential fixes for these barriers. Barrier #1: Lack of digital customer engagement roadmap In many cases, organizations fail to create a long-term plan for how they will achieve success with their digital customer engagement initiative. This results in a lack of executive and key stakeholder buy-in, the inability to link the strategy to the corporate vision and mission, and poor adoption across the organization. These factors then lead to budget cuts, resourcing issues, competing priorities, and much more (see below in barriers #2 and 3). How to fix it To be successful, digital customer engagement requires a long-term vision and a planned strategic approach that communicates how it can add commercial and customer value to a brand, including new business and communication models. Organizations need a strategic vision that helps focus on delivering lasting value to your business in the areas of expanding the breadth, depth, and duration of the customer relationship. The result creates a clear call to action for all stakeholders at the outset of the program. After a vision is crafted, create a series of compelling strategic goals and objectives to serve as the foundation of the customer engagement strategy. Develop the strategic goals and objectives to specifically address the various competitive threats, issues, and opportunities identified throughout the strategy project, as well as to tie the efforts to bottom-line results. This vision, along with strategic goals and objectives, then allows organizations to create a customer engagement strategy that is linked to the business strategy, has bold long-term orientation, and is centered around customer needs. Best practice Create a roadmap that will serve as a strategic document and a canvas. It should outline the strategies and tactics across customer experience channels that will drive customer engagement and deliver results, closing the gap between your present experience and the one you envision. The roadmap ties to your defined business goals and KPIs for measuring success. Barrier #2: Organization & talent Unfortunately, most mid-market to Fortune 100 organizations aren’t set up to adopt organizational change without a lot of pushback and hesitation. This results in employees not understanding the intended experience they are supposed to deliver, on-again-off-again customer engagement focus, and a loss of credibility and satisfaction among members of the organization. To become a truly customer-centric company that drives positive interactions and experiences for its customers, organizations must push through these changes or risk falling behind. Below you’ll see a list of the behaviors and barriers that many organizations run into when taking on a transformation of this proportion and how organizations must shift in order to be successful. How to fix it Get senior management’s buy-in to review, authorize, and champion innovation in digital customer engagement. Change is initiated both top-down and bottom-up, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to acquire budgets and internal prioritization when change is coming from above. Speaking of, ensure that you properly budget and invest in digital customer engagement consistent with customer use of those channels. Similar to budgets, the organization should have the right level of resources to meet the requirements of business-critical customer engagement disciplines. You have to put your money where your mouth is and truly believe in the value of becoming more customer-focused. As with any organization, there needs to be the right structure and workflow in place to manage digital customer engagement and provide teams with the necessary insights to do their jobs the right way. Ensure that your employees are empowered and have the skills needed to deliver the experience you desire and to drive the business forward. Have experts in business-critical fields, and provide training where necessary to ensure your employees have the tools to provide truly customer-centric engagement. Finally, remember how you eat an elephant — one bite at a time. Start small by running pilots and scale across departments after you’ve made the business case about the value that investing in digitizing customer engagement can deliver. This won’t fix all the issues listed above, but it’s a start that will put you in a place to be successful — and it won’t completely disrupt your business. Barrier #3: Culture The third major roadblock for organizations is transforming the culture from sales-first to becoming more customer-centric, aligned around customer needs. This should be a direct reflection of the core values of the company. Common culture-related issues are: Getting broad-based buy-in across the organization. A lack of buy-in results from being unable to translate the vision for customer-centricity across the organization and make it actionable in terms of customer interactions down to the most granular decisions for the business. The organization embarks on a transformation journey, but loses focus before achieving the objective. The organization doesn’t have a common definition of what it means to be customer-centric. The organization is slow to change and can’t move from its reactive nature to a proactive one that has a higher risk appetite and acts with speed and agility, willing to test and learn what works and what doesn’t. The last major culture-related issue is that employees are often neglected, resulting in a poor experience for individuals who are carrying out your customer-facing efforts. How to fix it Get executives, key influencers/stakeholders, and employees involved in your customer engagement strategy process as early as possible. Make people of all levels in the organization feel like they are helping shape the outcome for the company and its customers. Communicate your customer-centric vision, objectives, and strategy continuously, and consistently report your progress toward reaching those objectives. Enable employees of all levels, granting them the ability to be responsible for successful customer outcomes and allow them access to training that ensures they perform in a way that matches the organization’s vision. Finally, get comfortable with the unknown, finding ways to run tests and learn in a single department or channel, then scale across the organization. All of these actions will increase the internal investment and accountability of employees at all levels and ensure that you transform your culture to enable your customer engagement initiatives. Barrier #4: Capabilities The final area where most organizations struggle considerably is ensuring they have the capabilities to support a successful digital customer engagement strategy. The greatest areas of concern when dealing with the enablement of digital customer engagement are capabilities in technology, data, and analytics. Point solutions are often purchased for prescriptive reasons and managed in departmental silos, which results in multi-system madness. When trying to carry out their digital customer engagement initiatives, organizations then have issues trying to link different technologies or lack the relevant technology to accomplish the tasks at hand. When it comes to data and analytics, organizations often lack key technology platforms to manage the data, which results in poor data quality. Even more so, many businesses don’t have the discipline to even measure results. When they do, what’s measured is more around internal issues or related to a problem, and the ongoing fragmentation and interpretation of data doesn’t provide any real insights that can drive business decisions around customer success. How to fix it Point blank, organizations need to invest in the best technology platforms to manage digital customer engagement. Marketing, IT, customer experience teams, etc. all need to come together and work collaboratively instead of worrying about sourcing their own solutions. Customer engagement requires key technology platforms, including marketing automation, content management systems, customer experience management systems, and the list goes on. The important thing is that you define what you are trying to achieve and work together as an organization to get the right systems in place to achieve your objective. When it comes to data and analytics, the goal is to get to a proactive approach that provides real-time insights in place. The organization must shift from internal and problem-related measurements to corporate and customer-success measures. A key step will be identifying the appropriate KPIs, information, and knowledge management control processes to fuel your customer engagement and optimize it. Transforming your customer engagement for the digital age isn’t easy, and in many cases it will take some major organizational change. This shouldn’t scare you away, but rather empower you to tackle the initiative and be a change agent who drives vast growth for your business. When you do decide to take this on for your business, beware these major barriers that often hinder success. Some of these challenges are inevitable, but knowing about them, you can now prepare for these roadblocks when they present themselves and take the right steps to move past them toward successful digital customer engagement.
As we highlighted in our article Transforming customer engagement in the digital age, customers are in control and seek experiences that build relationships with brands that span devices, channels, and time. But how do you provide an experience that meets or exceeds your customer’s expectations? We put together 11 traits of a successful customer engagement strategy. This list can serve as a guideline and solid foundation to transform your organization's customer engagement for the digital age. Successful customer engagement strategies are: 1. Customer-centric Everything is focused on the needs of your customers, and those needs are put first. It’s more about making sure they’re happy and satisfied in every interaction. This shifts the focus for most organizations off of bottom-line results toward successful customer outcomes. 2. Conscious of context The customer is in control of how they engage with your brand. Be sure that you always understand the relationship between your brand and the customer, past and present, as well as where and when the interaction is taking place. 3. Consistent Each channel and device where the customer can engage with the brand should be consistent in design, style, messaging, and experience. This requires that all your points of engagement to be developed with the same customer insights and segments in mind. 4. Continuous Continuity is key for customers, and the goal is to ensure that customers can seamlessly transfer from one device/channel to another and pick up at the same point of interaction. Don’t make someone start over with your customer support team if they switch from their computer to their phone while on the go. 5. Customized Customers expect brands to understand their wants and needs and to personalize their interactions based on those insights. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to engaging with your customers. Get as close to one-to-one interactions as possible. 6. Convenient Customers want to engage when they want and where they want. This includes any channel or device, day or night, 24-7. Be there and add value every step of the way. 7. Conversational Always remember it’s a two-way conversation between you and your customer. That means listening more than you speak, and when you speak, add value to further the interaction in a positive way to continue building your relationship. 8. Collaborative & coordinated Typically brands operate in silos and lack communication with one another about their interactions with customers. To deliver valuable interactions across the customer lifecycle, you will need to collaborate and coordinate your interactions between departments throughout your organization. 9. Co-created People want to feel like they have control and the ability to shape the outcomes they have when interacting with brands. Allow customers to help create their experience through your interaction. This develops a feeling of ownership and increases the likelihood of loyalty and advocacy. 10. Committed True digital customer engagement takes a lot of work, and it may rustle some feathers when you can’t see immediate, bottom-line return. Be patient and willing to invest both time and money in your customers to see the true value/results of your efforts. 11. Creative Customers want to be wowed in their interactions with you. You can’t just do the same old thing that your competitors and everyone else are doing. Think outside the box and deliver something that will change the way your customer perceives your brand and interactions. Conclusion At the end of the day, whether you’re B2B or B2C, we are all consumers and have expectations that need to be met in order to feel satisfied. To meet these expectations, brands must treat every customer as an individual, building the relationship one interaction at a time. While the behaviors or traits above aren’t all-encompassing, if mastered, they will transform your customer engagement and the way the customer perceives your brand. Put on your consumer hat and think with each interaction, “What would I want to happen here?” or “Would I be frustrated if this happened?” Ultimately, simply asking yourself these questions can go a long way in driving value in your relationships with customers.
What is customer experience? With the experience economy taking a stronger hold, it is imperative for organizations, regardless of industry, to understand what “customer experience” means. This phrase has been defined in many ways, but our definition aims to explain the scope of customer experience: Customer experience: the interactions between an organization and a customer over the duration of the relationship, and the customer’s perception of their engagement and the supplied products or services. To effectively address the entire scope of the customer experience, organizations need a 360-degree view of the customer. The very core of a customer experience strategy (CX strategy) is understanding the behaviors, needs and wants of the customer, posing the question, “What does a great customer experience mean in the eyes of the customer?” According to survey conducted by the CMO Council, a great customer experience includes: Quick response times to customer requests or complaints Rapid response to issues and challenges Products that reflect their own needs and wants Consistency of the experience across all touchpoints This customer viewpoint has created a divide in the experience economy between businesses that quickly address customers’ changing behaviors and those who do not. Implementing a CX strategy is a necessity to thrive in the experience economy Today’s customers exhibit unprecedented new behaviors. Incumbent companies suffer without a 360-degree view of their customers or a more flexible and nimble framework to accommodate new behaviors, falling further behind competitors. Slow improvements to increasing customer demands widen the gap between business goals and customer needs. In response to the emergence of the experience economy, influencers in their respective industries are leveraging digital technologies to become more customer centric. These forward-thinking players are breaking down the silos between departments and operatives to unify employees in delivering experiences that match or exceed those of industry leaders. As a result, businesses can no longer use traditional business models to preserve customer loyalty. It’s not enough to simply know adapting to the experience economy is a necessity. Businesses need to take the next step and actually invest in a new strategy to fully embrace the marketplace shift. Investing in a customer experience strategy is not extravagant In response to the experience economy, the roles of CFOs and CIOs are changing, shifting focus from reducing costs to enabling organizations to become more flexible and scalable to grow revenue. Customer experience spending has become the top investment priority for accelerating businesses, and such investments are paying off. For a company with $1 billion in annual revenue, a moderate increase in CX generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years. The saying, “What’s good for the customer is good for business,” is truer than ever. Providing positive customer experiences is directly correlated with customers who purchase again, don’t switch to competitors and recommend the company, resulting in loyalty-based revenue and evident ROI. Investing in the right digital strategy and technology ecosystem creates more access and engagement with brands, increasing opportunities for a better customer experience. These technologies are being used implement CX strategy by converging people, processes, and technology. Companies have linked CX improvements through digital to reductions in service, acquisition, processing, and engineering costs. Forward-thinking companies like Airbnb and Tesla Motors are great examples of this, using new digital tools and systems to add immense value and gain a competitive edge. Customer-centric strategy also translates into an investment in employees. Employees are happiest when they feel like they have a purpose, and this is especially true for millennials, who have surpassed Generation X as the largest share of the American workforce. A unified aim to provide great customer experience gives employees a purpose, ultimately lowering employee turnover, while adding value and productivity to business process. Where to start An effective CX strategy means mastering engagement opportunities with new customers and nurturing existing customer relationships. Customer journey mapping uncovers what your customers need and when they need it along their end-to-end journey. Misunderstandings of customer behaviors and preferences, along with low adoption of the evolving digital technology, serve as barriers to an effective CX strategy. Customer journey mapping breaks down these barriers to help organizations design, develop, and deliver experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations, all while aligning to the business strategy by shifting the focus from immediate sales to delivering value to customers. Now that you know what customer experience is, why it is needed, and where to start, your business can begin gearing up for the transition into the experience economy and gain the competitive edge required to thrive. Need help getting started? Let us know.
Born in the retail industry, omnichannel isn’t just a buzzword to add to your marketing “bingo” card. (You know the one.) Omnichannel strategies provide digital customers with a seamless experience of a company’s brand, no matter where or how those customers engage with it. From brick-and-mortar stores to social media and websites — and from telephone to laptop and mobile device — omnichannel provides customers with consistent, integrated service. More than that, omnichannel better enables your company to meet your customers where they live. In a July 2014 Forbes article, Daniel Newman defined omnichannel as “. . . a reflection of the choice that consumers have in how they engage a brand, and therefore is best represented as how brands enable their clients and consumers to use these channels to engage with them.” That hasn’t changed. What is valuable about Newman’s definition is that it focuses on consumer choice, placing the customer journey squarely at the center of the strategy. Omnichannel, at its most faithful execution, is a transition from transactional, forced interactions with brands to a system of continuous, in-context enablement from the brand. Newman’s definition also widens the focus of the approach to include both products (retail) and services. How is omnichannel different? Offering products and services across multiple channels — and accessible across multiple devices — is nothing new. Multichannel marketing, or offering brand experiences in many channels for many devices, has been evolving for some time. Margaret Rouse of WhatIs.com provides perhaps the simplest explanation of the difference between multichannel and omnichannel marketing. “What distinguishes the omnichannel customer experience from the multichannel customer experience is that there is true integration between channels on the back end.” The distinction is an important one, both for marketing and for IT, because integration implies big data and the business intelligence that can be gained from it. The reality is that we are building systems and processes that use data from line-of-business (LOB) systems: Customer interactions on web, mobile, and social Brand ambassadors like customer service and sales Behaviors in brick-and-mortar stores where consumer products are the focus Integrating the systems used to manage marketing content puts customer data at the center of the brand interaction, which is what makes a seamless customer experience possible. What omnichannel is not With this basic understanding of what omnichannel marketing is, let’s talk about what it is not because that has major implications for your organization and its digital strategy. Omnichannel is not a traditional marketing funnel The traditional marketing funnel moves prospective customers through several well-defined, brand-controlled phases, from brand awareness to purchase and, if you’re really lucky, to brand advocacy and repeat business. By contrast, omnichannel is a continuous cycle, where purchasing can occur at any point during the customer’s interaction with the brand, as well as across devices. And not all of the content with which the consumer engages (or, for that matter, which the consumer seeks out) is brand-controlled. User reviews, social networks, and other consumer-driven content all influence purchasing decisions at various points in the customer journey. What this means for you is that you not only have to make the right content available at multiple consumer touchpoints, but you also have to be aware of the content you don’t control so that you are ready to respond to it, indirectly or directly. Analytics become especially important so you can track your customers’ journeys and also help predict where you can make the most impact on their buying or engagement decisions. Omnichannel is not conducted in silos Omnichannel is a marriage of technology and marketing. A true omnichannel experience requires collaboration and cooperation between marketing and IT. Neither division can dictate to the other what will work, which technologies to use, how to use them, or when to implement. Both marketing and IT need to be sensitive to each other’s schedules, initiatives, and resource constraints. What this equates to is organizational change. Omnichannel isn’t a project; it’s a way of operating your business intelligently and dynamically. Pursuing an omnichannel approach to marketing requires you to commit to organizational change. Omnichannel is not a switch you flip on — tah-dah! The crucial integration of systems that differentiates omnichannel marketing from multichannel marketing often requires updating back-end systems. And that’s neither quick nor easy. Omnichannel marketing requires careful planning, along with cooperation and collaboration between marketing and IT. An omnichannel solution doesn’t have to be expensive. But it does need to be well thought out. You have to understand that changes to how data is managed do not happen overnight. Changes to how content is written and published do not happen overnight. Changes to how and where you interact with your customers do not happen overnight. But when they do happen, there are efficiencies to be gained, money to be made (or saved), and loyalty to be won — both from your external consumers and from your internal producers. In short, an omnichannel strategy can completely transform the way you do business. Today consumers have their choice of content, devices, and touchpoints. Your digital strategy must place your customers’ journey squarely at the center. Check out “Vectren moves to omnichannel to improve brand experience” to find out why.
In the age of the consumer and the experience economy, everyone and everything is connected. Consumer expectations have shifted. The customer expects a personal relationship that offers value wherever and whenever they are ready to engage. As a result, marketers must shift away from singular campaigns and a “bottom-line first” mindset in order to stay relevant and competitive. As the number of communication channels and devices increases, so does the challenge of engaging consumers effectively and delivering consistent, contextual, and personalized interactions across each of them. So what’s the solution to this ever-increasing challenge? An effective digital customer engagement strategy. What is customer engagement? From customer service reps to marketers, the definition of “customer engagement” seems to be determined by the situation in which it’s used. In many cases, this has led to the phrase being used interchangeably with “customer experience.” While the two are definitely related, it is important to draw a distinction to understand how they act as major growth levers that drive value for both brands and their customers. The relationship between brands and their customers develops over time based on interactions and the perceptions and behaviors that follow. Brands interact with customers in order to: Make them aware of their product or service Get them to purchase their product or service Get them to repurchase their product or service and have them recommend it to their friends Customers interact with brands throughout their buyer journey. The following is an example of the basic, overarching process that customers go through when purchasing something. Customer experience is the perception or impression of those interactions. Customer engagement is the interaction/behavior by the brand or customer and the means by which their relationship is created. Customer engagement goes beyond managing the experience at touchpoints; it includes all the ways companies motivate customers to invest in an ongoing relationship with their brand. This relationship doesn’t start and stop at the purchase point, but spans the lifetime of the customer, from the time they became aware of the brand to after they’ve purchased the product/service and more. In the past, brands controlled these interactions. They were able to dictate when an interaction took place, what message they wanted to communicate, and, most of the time, the outcome. But that’s no longer the case. Customer engagement in the digital age In 1998, there were only 147 million people online. People waited half an hour to download a song and over a month to download a movie. It was in the early 2000s that the world changed forever with the release of the iPhone, the smartphone for the everyday person, the release of instant messaging services like AIM, and when social media came on the scene with platforms like Myspace. In 2018, the number of smartphone users worldwide is projected to reach 2.52 billion, with 61.2% of the world population accessing the web from their mobile devices. – Statistica In an age defined by disruptive technologies, the relationship between brands and their customers has shifted. We fast forward through TV commercials, we unsubscribe from annoying emails, we don’t open direct mail, and we put ourselves on do-not-call lists (like that works). We have information in the palm of our hands or at the edge of our tongues. We expect to be able to connect instantaneously and conveniently with whomever we want when we want. We operate in short micro-moments across multiple devices and channels, and we expect it to be seamless and quick. As consumers, our interactions with brands are no different. We don’t just simply buy something. We develop a relationship with the brands of our choosing, and we expect value during each interaction. We want to feel heard and like we helped create the value we received. This has led to a rapid shift for marketers to move from brand-centric interruption marketing to customer-centric attraction marketing. “Consumers have changed. We are in the midst of a major social change in the way consumers listen and engage with brands. The landscape has changed from campaign management to customer engagement.” – Alterian Brands at-risk study In fact, Forrester Research stated that customer relationships are now the only competitive differentiator. As a consumer, we build a mesh of digital devices around us to get things done. Customer engagement must be able to seamlessly span these devices and channels to build on the relationship between the brand and the consumer through each interaction. “The ‘digital mesh’ is the collection of devices (including things), information, apps, services, businesses, and other people that exist around the individual. As the digital mesh evolves, all devices, computer and information resources, businesses, and individuals will be interconnected. The interconnections will be dynamic and flexible, changing throughout the day.” – Gartner, Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016: Mesh App and Service Architecture Our devices, our methods of consuming information, and the way we make decisions are constantly changing, and they’re only going to continue to evolve as technologies advance. The only thing that is consistent throughout this evolution is the individual behind the screen. We as consumers don’t form perceptions based on a single interaction, but rather on the full experience we have with the brand across all our touchpoints. How those micro-moments connect builds the relationship. This means that brands must develop or update their customer engagement for the digital age. Transforming customer engagement For businesses, this means that to improve customer engagement, you must embrace technology and data to speak your customers’ language in the context the conversation is taking place. You will need to create ongoing conversations with each individual, conversations that combine their lives and their experiences in the physical and digital world. Your marketing approach shifts from acquisition-oriented campaigns to management of customer interactions and experiences that span the buyer’s journey in a seamless way. This isn’t a one-way conversation dictated by the brand, as it was in the past, but instead a two-way conversation where brands must listen for and understand the needs of their customers. It’s time to update your engagement strategy for the digital consumer. Are you ready? Read more: 11 behaviors for success with digital customer engagement
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