All the energy for the first 10 years of the customer data platform era was focused on marketing and advertising. Deep profile data and precise audience segmentation led to better performance in social ads, email campaigns, and customer journeys. Lately, we’ve seen CDPs also start to drive more connectivity between CRM applications for better customer experience. Now, we’re beginning to see the next phase of customer data management: Creating better, proactive customer experience by preventing bad experiences.
Bad customer experience: Why CX is getting worse and how brands can reverse the trend
Today, smart brands are unearthing interesting signals from customer data and applying them for various use cases. For example, why market to customers that have an unresolved issue in the call center? They probably don’t want to be sold anything new until their issues are resolved. By unifying marketing and service data, the CDP provides a way to execute this use case without making it a costly IT endeavor.
This is all great stuff, and exactly what customer experience managers should be doing. Leveraging loyalty data to drive e-mail campaign content (“one more flight gets you to platinum”), leveraging purchase data to drive next-best offers (“customers who bought this, loved this”), and using survey and preference data to personalize messages (“you’re seeing this, because you viewed that”). CDPs should be the glue that connects customer experience together, and it’s encouraging to see the technology finally start to cross the chasm from marketing to broader use cases. That said, perhaps we’re focusing on the wrong things. While these use cases are extremely valuable and certainly revenue generating if deployed correctly, maybe there’s an even more noble use for CDP?
Redefining customer identity for the cookie-less future
I’ve written about the concept of “data exhaust” – the notion that digital consumers continually give off thousands of signals as they move through the world. Advertising clicks, video views, interactions with IoT-enabled devices, pin pad transactions, GPS-guided car travel, and restaurant check-ins are just a fraction of the digital exhaust we emit daily. Collected at scale, and unified to a single people-based identity, they offer a rich snapshot of customers.
These data provide an analytical view of customers that’s also entirely contextual – the signals I give off on a Monday morning (commuting, consuming business content, sitting in an office, eating lunch salads) may entirely differ from my Friday night persona (fine dining, searching for live music, located near a beach). While much of the customer profile can remain static and change infrequently (home address, job, income, number of children in the household), many of our attributes change minute-by-minute, or day by day (location, time of day, and weather). Brands need to consider how they balance their customer view and leverage CDPs to help bring behavioral data into their systems, balancing the long term “truth” of their profiles with intent signals that offer needed context. This is powerful stuff and is key to unlocking better performance across sales, service, commerce and (of course) marketing and advertising. But, if you look at what we’ve just experienced during the pandemic, it doesn’t get us to completely proactive customer experience.
Real customers, engaged with your brand: Enter data authentication
Say you ran a popular truck rental service, and business was booming as people fled shuttered cities for remote working paradises in the suburbs and beyond. You set up effective marketing campaigns to likely movers, gave them a simple way to plan their move and book a truck. You offered them the ability to pre-pay, submit their insurance online, and add extras like boxes and moving blankets. You delivered an ideal customer journey from inception through purchase, but when they showed up for their pre-scheduled time…the truck was not there. (Cue sad trombone sound). All the data in the world didn’t prevent turning a delighted customer into a glaring red account with a negative NPS score. But what if it could?
What if all the rich “data exhaust” we collect and unify in the CDP profile could be sent into the key backend systems that mange the truck inventory, maintenance, and physical location of the fleet? This is known as the ERP system. As I noted in a previous column, commerce failures during the pandemic had nothing to do with a broken cart or check-out processes, but rather shortages due to the collapse of supply chains.
2022 commerce trends show CX needs a reboot
In our truck rental scenario above, the CDP would invisibly enrich customer experience – not by driving more demand and personalization, but by alerting the inventory management system via demand signals and throttling new bookings until supply issues ceased.Preventing a bad experience before it happens is deep, proactive customer experience – and one of the first steps on the way to enterprise CDP.Customer data pointed at the core systems that drive manufacturing and supply chain management is just one simple use case. There are hundreds more ways in which this powerful data can add intelligence and automation to backend of business processes. It’s an exciting new era!