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Quality over quantity: add context to the customer journey

Suzanne Larabie

The customer journey is long and winding. With multiple touchpoints, devices, and stages all at play, retailers are often left feeling one step behind their customers when it comes to knowing what they want and when.

Retailers are seeking more than just conversion, though; they want loyalty. Similarly, customers are looking for brands that are willing to invest in them, get to know them, and personalize their experience for ease and convenience.

The proof is in the pudding – customers are willing to pay more for brands when they feel they are getting value out of the experience. How can retailers deliver on this added value? By investing in gaining a complete 360-degree view of their customers.

Winning experiences are a function of data

Data is what makes the world of personalization go ’round. Without it, retailers have no way of understanding who their customers are or what they want. Across every touchpoint and channel, data strategy, collection, and application are critical to creating powerful experiences and generating buyer loyalty.

Many retailers create simplified customer personas and call it “personalization.” Sadly, this is nowhere near good enough.

The reality is that marketing to personas creates a number of fallacies and headaches for retailers looking to achieve one-to-one personalization. Take, for example, an upper-middle-class working mom who lives in suburban Dallas. An auto retailer would naturally peg her for a minivan or a midsize SUV – she has kids and disposable income and needs a car for getting the family around town. What they don’t realize, however, is that this woman spends her weekend on a ranch and needs the power, size, and capacity of a pickup truck to fit her lifestyle.

Gaining the required context to make every offer and experience personalized is exceptionally difficult, so we can forgive the auto retailer above for getting it wrong. The example, however, highlights just how easily an experience can turn from good to bad, thus souring the customer on remaining loyal to the brand. The error may seem minor, but with customer loyalty on a knife’s edge, retailers need to find ways to mitigate these risks.

Context through collaboration

It’s obvious that gaining all of the rich context required to build a holistic 360-degree customer view is a big challenge. At the same time, through taking an iterative approach and collaborating with others, this nuance can be ascertained.

Previously, we discussed the value of third-party data and collaboration for getting the data you need. When determining what context needs to be added to your customer datasets, here are some smart places to start:

  1. What did the customer do before and after interacting with my brand?
  2. What loyalty program data would be valuable to extrapolate upon?
  3. How does my brand compare against others in the customer’s lifecycle pattern?

We are firm believers that the way forward for answering these questions lies in close collaboration with industry leaders and partners. When powerful datasets are combined, like in our Capgemini Data and Analytics Consortium, data models become sharper, more insightful, and more transformative than they were before.

Sharpening those models is the topic of my third blog in this series.