Brands' secrets from themselves kill the customer experience

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Back in the day, you could give customers identical experiences, and they would take it because, well, they had to. Now 70 percent of brands compete on the basis of personalized experiences. But good personalization requires consumer data, and consumers' trust is at a premium.

To wend your way through this minefield, you can't leave teams in silos or inadvertently feed them bad data. Deliver on customer expectations by integrating data platforms and breaking down the barriers that separate team members at your brand.

Optimize the experience for positive change

The biggest problem in personalization is hardly a lack of data. Marketers have plenty—from websites, in-person encounters, mobile apps, social platforms and contact forms. They limit their capabilities by keeping that data in silos. Despite brands' excitement to use data to deliver better experiences, 54 percent still label their customer data integration efforts as "poor."

That's partly a historical legacy, a result of job functions that set in before data became pervasive and personalization became a must. According to Salesforce, more than half of brand leaders agree that traditional marketing roles hurt customer engagement efforts. Further research found that 70 percent of organizations don't believe they're aligned with the customer journey, and 70 percent named breaking down silos as their biggest challenge.

Marketers have added more data wizards to their teams, but where marketing departments once owned the entire experience, today everyone—salespeople, designers, programmers, customer service reps—has to be responsible for creating a great experience.

Think Amazon and Netflix, kings of experience, play hide-the-data internally? Think again.

Demolishing walls

Brands should rethink marketing team structures by adding new voices. VentureBeat reports that Lyft, for instance, relies on collaborative pods that include marketers, data scientists, engineers, and product managers to stay ahead of the experience curve.

By sharing your coveted marketing data, you can gain a comprehensive view of your customers. Pool that data into a centralized data management platform to analyze your data and spit out insights you can actually use. With the combined powers of humans and artificial intelligence, your experience will be one worth remembering.

"We're using AI not only to support customers in their transactional needs — like 'Where's my package' or 'Can I return a product?' But we're also using [bots] to acquire them again," Aarde Cosseboom, TechStyle Fashion Group's director of GMS technology and workforce management, told VentureBeat.

Eliminate the silos holding back your experiences by, yes, hiring good data scientists, but also by trusting their advice. Set up multidisciplinary teams to identify and correct experience issues before they reach the customer. Test different tools until you find one that can measure—and improve—the key performance indicators that matter to you. Empower your workforce with access to actionable data so employees can raise your customer experiences from transactional to proactive.

Your internal teams might butt heads as they collaborate, but if they create awesome data-driven experiences, your customers won't care who had the last word.

See Dara Treseder take on changing Silicon Valley culture at Ad Age Next, our biggest annual event, this Nov. 13 and 14 in New York. Other speakers include Alexis Ohanian, Bozoma Saint John, Sophia Amoruso and Pras Michél. Come look into the future.

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