Next best everything

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Not all valuable interactions are transactions…

I understand the appeal, in its purest form, of Next Best Offer or Next Best Action. However, the reality is that in a clear majority of cases, these approaches are used to support a product or an organization-centric view of the customer/brand exchange, employing no real insight or intelligence and focusing on driving average order value, customer lifetime value, or other revenue metric while doing little to improve the overarching customer experience. In a general sense, NBO/NBA is simply an algorithmic way to identify all available products and services and propose the one most likely to create a revenue opportunity with a given customer.

This limited, sales only focus has three key limitations:

  • The analysis tends only to be behavior based, rather than also seeking to understand the underlying drivers of choice at different stages of the lifecycle.
  • A focus on promotion – the approach becomes simply a way to better target promotional offers, not bad in itself, but is this where the highest value lies?
  • Tends to be run in a siloed manner from the marketing department rather than being an enterprise-wide, customer-focused strategy.

For some time now, the technology and the data processing power have been available to allow a brand to build and deploy next-best-action capabilities in both high volumes and in real time. Pega’s Customer Decision Hub is a notable example. But surely this opportunity to use human and artificial intelligence to better understand, predict, and preempt customer needs and desires is too rich to be limited to simply delivering better targeting of promotional offers, isn’t it?

Companies compete today on the experience that they enable for their clients, not on the product, not on price – and the clients who are winning are those who are creating relationships of value based on a higher degree of customer intimacy and a deeper emotional connection crafted over time and built on relevance and trust. Herein then lies the bigger opportunity; a focus on the overall customer experience beyond marketing, through sales and service.

We consistently recommend that our clients stretch beyond the next-best-action or next-best-offer paradigm and focus on identifying and delivering the Next Best Experience. Taking this approach will lead to both short- and long-term revenue opportunities while turning your customers into brand ambassadors by building affiliation – a bond of trust beyond loyalty.

Year after year, customer experience improvements appear at the top of the list of priorities but most companies fail to get the expected benefits because they focus on a piece of the experience, a channel, or a given slice of the customer journey. The truth is that to really drive ROI, you must focus on the whole experience, the myriad interactions that make up the whole and the enabling layers that support and connect them.

Being able to recommend the Next Best Experience requires both an understanding of how customers engage with your brand across a portfolio of offerings (products, services, locations, employees, etc.) and an ability to impact the different levers that enable those interactions:

  • How customer touch points distribute across channels (digital and physical) and devices and in what circumstances each is relevant
  • How data is provided, collected, or inferred to add value to discreet experiences and to the overarching journey with the brand
  • How employees engage with customers to deliver great brand experiences in the moment and over time
  • How employees engage with the organizational structure and business processes and technology to deliver products and services for customers
  • How technology is leveraged to support the overall experience of both customers and employees.

Our teams will be at Pega World 2018, June 3–6 in Las Vegas, and we will be delighted to share more of our experiences, our thinking, and our methodologies to drive speed to effective value. Please stop by and see us.

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