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., an above-and-beyond, end-to-end CX) is the new standard for businesses. From CPG companies and DTC retailers to media and publishing brands.

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 advanced tech — not legacy tools.

customer experience strategy

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:

Nearly half (48%) of consumer-centric organizations polled said their CX efforts were “exceptional,” compared to just 22% of consumers surveyed.

One way these companies can bridge this gap in their customers’ perception?

Identify and eliminate ineffective tools that prevent them from ‘delighting’ individuals throughout each customer lifecycle stage.

BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach explained to CMSWire how she often gets asked by marketing 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?

martech stack

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

A nearly complete single customer view doesn’t make up for the fact master data management tools don’t offer activation capabilities for marketers.

What’s more, they’re IT-owned and -operated systems. That means they’re meant for non-marketing teams too.

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 marketing programs today. For instance, short-term campaigns are best for promoting specific products or services upon launches.

But campaign management tools can’t inform marketing where individuals are in their respective customer journeys.

Why? Because — well — they just don’t know.

The tools ‘push’ channel-specific messaging to their target audience based on where marketers believe they are in their respective 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 marketing pros get a sense of customers’ typical paths to purchase.

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

These dependencies create time delays. In turn, this prevent marketers 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 places. Particularly for enterprises with sizable tech 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 provide a top-tier CX with only a partial view of the customer?

martech stack

The mindset (and martech) 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” (see: marketing) to own their customer database technology:

“It saves money; it protects customers from redundant and annoying solicitations; and it permits direct comparison of customers on the basis of their location, choice of product, or some other criterion.”

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

Here’s one piece of compelling evidence to support that claim:

The “ability to develop the necessary capabilities to design, deliver, and monitor the customer experience” was marketing leaders’ top CX-related challenge, per the August 2019 CMO Survey.

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

cmo marketing

Why? Because they can now improve all critical components of their programs with a pure-play customer data platform (CDP) 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 pure-play CDP like BlueConic provides such a single customer view. Moreover, it has marketer-friendly dashboards featuring all relevant data for all individuals and segments:

blueconic

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 market solely to individuals who’ve opted in to receive promotional messaging and allow you to use their data in marketing.

A customer data platform with robust consent management functionality built right into the platform — such as BlueConic — can help with this.

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.

They can also easily analyze and compare groups of prospects and buyers 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 CDP.

For instance, BlueConic offers out-of-the-box models that help marketers enrich profiles with the aforementioned customer scores. Thus, in turn, informs segment inclusion (and exclusion) and subsequent activation to target segments.

customer experience strategy

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

Refining your marketing strategy with a pure-play customer data platform in place leads to operational efficiencies for your team and across your organizations.

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

As our aforementioned COO Cory Munchbach noted to Forbes regarding data utilization:

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

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.

The key, of course, is getting buy-in from leadership to upgrade your tech. More specifically, removing redundant or inefficient legacy tools and investing in a CDP.

customer data platform

In a guest post 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 the company, to executives,” Morgan said, “they run the very real risk of losing support” for CX tech investment.

In addition to explaining the benefits of a CDP, marketers interested in the tech also need to relay the downsides of sticking with the status quo solution-wise to their C-suite.

For instance, you can note how many “marketers’ technological infrastructure frequently falls short of the level required” to improve CX, as an Econsultancy survey found.

Similarly, you 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.