Customer Experience: A Competitive Differentiator

Customer Experience|8 Minute Read

Customer Experience: A Competitive Differentiator

‘Good’ customer experience (CX) just doesn’t cut it for companies today.

A ‘great’ customer experience strategy (i.e., end-to-end CX) is the new standard for businesses. From CPG companies and DTC retailers to media and publishing businesses.

Every interaction with customers across touchpoints today (website visits, customer support chats, social media ad clicks, etc.) needs to contribute to a high-quality CX.

Fail to meet lofty customer expectations, and you likely won’t gain loyal customers. In fact, you may lose existing ones, if you deliver one bad experience after another.

Conversely, a positive customer experience in every lifecycle stage can improve both your brand image (customers’ perception) and bottom line (greater customer loyalty).

Ultimately, businesses that focus on increasing customer satisfaction and regularly measure customer experience metrics are the ones that differentiate themselves from competitors.

And they do so with a pure-play customer data platform (CDP) like BlueConic at the heart of their technology stacks and customer engagement strategies.

How using legacy tech leads to a poor overall customer experience strategy

The Harris Poll’s 2019 Customer Experience Index discovered a sizable disparity between how brands perceive their customer experience strategies versus how consumers do:

One way these companies can bridge this gap in their customers’ perception? Identify and eliminate ineffective tools that prevent them from ‘delighting’ individuals across their distinct customer journeys and throughout each customer lifecycle stage.

BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach explained to CMSWire how she often gets asked by business leaders at big brands across industries how the most popular data-driven technologies differ from one another. Her response to these executives?:

  • “In a world where customer experience is the ultimate competitive differentiator, the better question to ask is: In what way will technology fundamentally transform how my marketing, and therefore how my business, understands and interacts with customers?”

That begs the question: Which, if any, of the most commonly used tech tools found in companies’ stacks today can help them improve their customer experience strategies?

customer experience strategy

Customer experience technology option #1: Master data management (MDM) solutions

A nearly complete single customer view doesn’t make up for the fact MDM tools don’t offer activation capabilities for marketers and other growth-focused teams. What’s more, they’re IT-owned and -operated (i.e., not meant for growth teams to own and operate).

The trademark of a modern, best-in-class CX strategy is the ability to leverage data to connect with customers in real time. This legacy tech prevents just that.

Customer experience technology option #2: Marketing campaign management tools

Outbound campaigns certainly have a place in customer engagement programs today. For instance, short-term campaigns are best for promoting products or services upon launch.

But campaign management tools can’t inform marketing where individuals are in their respective customer journeys. Why? Because they don’t offer a real-time, single customer view that shows where each person in your data ecosystem is in their journey.

These solutions ‘push’ channel-specific messaging to their target audience based on where marketers and growth teams believe they are in their unique customer journeys.

More often than not, this leads to watered-down, inefficient marketing.

Customer experience technology option #3: Customer journey orchestration software

This system, on the other hand, does supply robust (if somewhat abstract) journey analytics that help growth-focused teams get a sense of customers’ typical paths to purchase.

But this software typically requires the help of data scientists to extrapolate insights before marketers and CX professionals can use the data to improve customer experiences.

These dependencies create time delays. In turn, this prevent teams from understanding where individuals are in real time and targeting them with well-timed, relevant messaging.

Customer experience technology option #4: Marketing cloud suites

Customer data comes from a variety of systems sources. Particularly for enterprise organizations with expansive (and ever-growing) technology stacks.

However, the major marketing cloud suites restrict marketers’ ability to unify all data that lives outside their walled-off suites and activate said data within the suites.

How can marketing, customer experience, ecommerce, and other growth-focused teams provide a top-tier CX with only a partial view of the customer?

customer experience strategy

The mindset (and tech) required for a strong customer experience strategy

In a 2007 Harvard Business Review post, CX experts Chris Meyer and Andre Schwager detailed three specific reasons why enterprise leaders preferred a “customer-facing group” like marketing and CX to own their customer database technology:

Fast-forward a decade-plus later. This reasonable (and ideal) approach to customer experience management still hasn’t been adopted by business leaders at many companies.

One piece of compelling evidence to support that claim?:

This used to be a legitimate excuse for enterprise CMOs. That’s simply no longer the case.

Why? Because they can now improve all critical components of their programs with a pure-play customer data platform as their foundational business technology.

Pure-play CDPs were explicitly designed to solve for three distinct CX challenges:

  • 1) Speed: Quicker time to market thanks to real-time data unification
  • 2) Agility: Dynamically updated segments to enhance personalized messaging
  • 3) Flexibility: Data-agnostic nature makes integration with other tools easy

And with improvements in these three areas, you can build a customer experience strategy that addresses your most pressing CX pain points. Specifically, the need for:

More robust, real-time customer analytics and insights

The bedrock of best-in-class marketing programs is access to all insights and information associated with every individual prospect and customer in one’s tech ecosystem.

A CDP like BlueConic provides such a single customer view. Moreover, it has marketer- and CX-friendly dashboards featuring all relevant, timely data for all individuals and segments.

More intelligent, cross-channel customer engagement

Transforming your passive and inactive buyers into more loyal and engaged customers becomes far easier with a unified customer database at your fingertips.

For instance, BlueConic customers build lifecycles to orchestrate timely, relevant messages to each individual based on where they are in their unique journey.

Marketers who use our pure-play CDP can move individuals from one lifecycle stage to the next as their behaviors, interests, engagement, and circumstances change.

More streamlined consent management processes

Improving CX also requires ensuring you engage solely individuals who’ve opted in to receive your promotional messaging and allow you to use their data in your marketing.

A customer data platform like BlueConic with robust consent management functionality built right into the platform can help you confidently activate your first-party data.

More dynamic customer segmentation capabilities

Some customer data platforms provide multi-dimensional segmentation capabilities to enable the development of hyper-specific segments and streamline segment analysis.

In BlueConic, for example, our customers can construct segments in mere minutes on their own. (Not hours, days, or weeks and with the help from IT or an external agency).

They can also easily analyze and compare groups of prospects and customers based on various criteria and attributes (e.g., propensity to churn or buy, CLV or RFM scores).

Moreover, our CDP automatically moves people in and out of segments in real time as their profile updates. For instance, when they visit a website, click an ad, or buy something.

More simplified means to build machine learning models

The days of relying on data science to build and deploy machine learning models are over. Well, at least when you have the right customer data platform in place.

BlueConic offers out-of-the-box predictive models that help all business technology users enrich profiles with the aforementioned customer scores. This then informs segment inclusion (and exclusion) and subsequent activation to target segments.

‘Always-on’ customer-centric marketing a must to build a high-quality CX strategy

Refining your audience engagement strategy with a pure-play customer data platform leads to greater operational efficiencies for all growth teams across your organization.

The trick is ensuring you leverage the high-quality, first-party data in your customer data platform accordingly each day so your business can say you’re truly customer-centric.

“Data collection can introduce new information, but it won’t result in smarter engagement or better outcomes if it’s not managed correctly,” Cory noted in a Forbes guest post.

Confidently utilize the consistently updated data stored persistently in your CDP’s customer profiles: That’s the key to making substantial headway with your CX strategy today.

Another key, of course, is getting buy-in from leadership to upgrade your tech.

More specifically, getting their approval to remove redundant or inefficient tools from their stacks and invest in a customer data platform to accelerate growth:

  • In a separate piece for Forbes, customer experience ‘futurist’ Blake Morgan noted many marketing pros comprehend the importance of a strong CX strategy today.
  • But “if they can’t clearly communicate the benefit to executives,” Morgan said, “they run the very real risk of losing support” for CX technology investment.
  • On top of explaining the benefits of a CDP, growth teams interested in the tech also need to relay the downsides of sticking with the status quo solution-wise to their C-suite.
  • For instance, they can note how many “marketers’ technological infrastructure frequently falls short of the level required” to improve CX, per an Econsultancy survey.
  • Similarly, they can explain how “legacy technology and infrastructure” was deemed the biggest barrier to CX success for many of the marketing professionals polled.

Bottom line: People and processes play a pivotal role in your customer experience success.

But the tech you choose is equally as important for ensuring you have the requisite resources to amplify your CX efforts and boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Looking to improve your customer experience strategy? Watch our CX webinar to discover how you can deliver more compelling cross-channel experiences to your audience.

customer experience strategy

See what BlueConic can do for you.