Omnichannel Customer Experience Requires Perfect Data

A recent Dynata survey on customer loyalty commissioned by Redpoint Global shows the importance for companies to deliver an omnichannel customer experience (OCX). In the survey, 74 percent of respondents said feeling valued and understood was a key factor in driving brand loyalty. When asked what it meant to be understood by a company, a majority (52 percent) said it was being offered relevant product and service recommendations, followed by 44 percent claiming it was when a companies offered customers a seamless way to navigate in-store and online channels.

What the customers in the survey were describing was an omnichannel customer experience, where companies deliver a consistent, hyper-personalized experience throughout a customer journey through every interaction and on every channel. Customers might not know it by name, but they know it when they see it. It's as if the company converses with them with one consistent voice over the complete customer lifecycle, and for many customers, it is a prerequisite for earning their continued business.

Consider a McKinsey study on the value of getting personalization right. It found that companies shifting into the top-quartile in performance in personalization would generate $1 trillion in value across U.S. industries, and that companies excelling at personalization generate 40 percent more revenue from those activities than their peers.>

An OCX in 1, 2, 3

An OCX framework that displays a deep, personal understanding and meets consumer expectations for a consistent experience across channels has three dimensions. First, it puts the customer at the center of every interaction, without exception. A lot of companies that talk about customer-centricity are still organized around channels. A true customer-centric approach, by contrast, recognizes that each interaction is part of a larger journey. Being customer-centric requires developing an individual understanding of a customer which, from a data perspective, extends beyond using transactional, preference, and historical data to also analyzing behavior across devices, IoT and sentiment analysis, and analyzing structured and unstructured data across an entire anonymous-to-known customer journey. A single view of the customer is available and accessible to any end user who needs it, and a holistic experience is organized around a continuously updated, real-time customer profile.

Second, an OCX provides equal quality on every channel. There is a growing consensus that a personalized, relevant experience is a vital part of the online or in-store journey, but companies often overlook the importance of the human connection. A consistent brand voice also includes how employees engage with customers, whether through a service, a call center, a front desk or any other interaction.

Third, the necessary awareness of every touchpoint interaction is needed to be able to start a process on one channel and finish it on another. This includes accuracy of information down to the millisecond, with the ability to adapt, change content, and switch channels, all while a consistent and singular hyper-personalized conversation is taking place. The channel is simply incidental to the conversation.

If a customer abandons a shopping cart on one device, will the company have a contextual awareness of that behavior if the customer contacts service on a different device moments later? A lack of cross-channel awareness could introduce friction into a customer journey with duplicate or otherwise irrelevant offers or content, indicating to the customer that the company isn't taking the time or effort to know the customer at an individual level.

With the three dimensions of OCX, companies in any industry where there is a consumer-brand relationship have the opportunity to engineer a customer experience that is defined, managed, and triggered at any point in the enterprise.

The foundation for getting it right—for delivering a consistent, hyper-personalized experience on every channel, with every interaction—requires pristine data and a single coordination and decisioning platform that brings data, insight, and action together to design and execute a seamless experience. Metaphorically, think about it as the brain of the company, listening (data), thinking (insights), and speaking (action) all in one consistent, hyper-personalized and brand-appropriate way, anytime, anywhere, to every customer, all the time.

A single point of operational control eliminates the data, department and process siloes that too often introduce the friction and latency that result in inconsistent, duplicative, or inferior experiences. A single point of control allows companies to organize the experience around a single view of the customer, with the flexibility to adapt to change based on real-time signals across all touchpoints and interactions (digital or human) and move with the customer in the context of an individual journey.

To ensure that business users have complete trust in the data and that the single customer view precisely reflects all there is to know about a customer, it is essential that data quality and identity resolution are happening within the organization. This means it's not being outsourced to a third-party vendor that does matching and merging generically across the entire U.S. population. Generic is never as good as matching based on your unique business rules, brand sensitivity to error, and style. This is the only way to have personalization at scale with the accuracy that true OCX demands. These capabilities are also needed locally for real-time consent management and managing the anonymous-to-known evolution of new customers. When all of this is outsourced, your agility is gone, and your authenticity is only as good as your last update. All intraday changes will not be visible until the next day. With those capabilities under a single point of control, changes are updated as frequently as data is made available to the system (tens or hundreds of times a day). It also has the added benefit of fostering a data-driven culture within your organization, which is the long-term goal for any company with top-tier ambitions.&

Delivering an omnichannel customer experience means more than delighting customers on one or even several channels. It's about consistent relevance equally on all channels, all the time, and every time. Customers expect nothing less.

George Corugedo is co-founder and chief technology officer of Redpoint Global.