What’s stopping brands from providing a great customer experience?

Technology creates a raft of opportunities for businesses to connect with and delight their customers. Still, many fail to do so correctly. We spoke to Will Griffith, APAC senior sales director, marketing cloud, Oracle, to find out where these failings lie, and what steps marketers can take to correct them.

Marketing: Practically speaking, what are the main hurdles in coming up with a great customer experience?

Griffith: The rise of the omni-channel consumer and emergence of dynamic customer expectations has meant that siloed channels are no longer an option. Customers today expect the experience to be consistent and personalised across all points of purchase. In fact, while satisfaction may rise for one well-run siloed channel, failure to connect across all channels seamlessly will eventually erode a company’s reputation.

Based on statistics gathered by Oracle, 82% of enterprise marketers actually have no synchronised view of their customer data. Marketers today tend to lean heavily on fragmented tools, and in doing so, pass that fragmentation onto their customers. The onus ultimately lies on marketers to adopt and implement the right tools in order to better harness key insights effectively.

Marketing: Why are some sectors more advanced in marketing analytics than others?

Griffith: Marketers in digital organisations have always been known as the early adopters of modern marketing techniques, as opposed to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. This is especially so for pure online businesses which have adopted rich digital engagement strategies from the get-go, as they do not need to tackle the issue of integrating marketing strategies with a siloed legacy offline channel.

That being said, there are also some non-digital native companies that have successfully moved their brick-and-mortar business models online, and subsequently, delivered a rich personalised customer experience. This is most prominent among companies in the insurance, media and retail industries.

Marketing: What are the challenges businesses face in tying the data together and making sense of it to get a truly accurate holistic view?

Griffith: With digital data growth expected to increase globally by 4,300% by 2020 and competitive pressures mounting, companies must now more than ever meet the rising demands of their customers. However, challenges abound with fewer resources, limited budgets, and older technology that does not really make the grade for the increasingly sophisticated expectations regarding multi-channel engagement, service and value. Many firms are finding their legacy business intelligence environments unable to deliver the actionable insights they require to invest wisely in their customers.

Marketing: How should businesses overcome these challenges?

Griffith: The quality of customer experience will always be improved if a business can quickly respond via the correct channels to manage the expectations of its customers. Utilising software analytics to process the correct data sources and metrics, and then proactively provide relevant and contextual information, is paramount.

I would recommend businesses do the following – implement proactive bill-shock management; create a smarter personalised shopping experience; and reduce waiting time in the queue.

Marketing: How can marketers deliver an integrated and highly personalised customer experience – from targeting, engagement, and analytics to conversion? What are these techniques?

First and foremost, marketers need to carefully map out the stages of their customer engagement process – starting with early brand awareness through to initial interest, evaluation, consideration and first purchase. Once they become a customer, the model may then involve subsequent purchases or interaction to build relationship or value.

Additionally, there may also be a trigger point for a potential lapse away from being a customer, which businesses will then need to address. The key point here is that marketers need to fully understand the nuances of how different customer groups behave throughout this life cycle, as well as across the channels of engagement available to them.

Next, armed with a comprehensive understanding of their customer journey, marketers will then need to think about the opportunities for engagement, dialogue and interaction – while being aware that there is a right time for customers to be sold to.

Evidently, in order to provide an integrated and highly personalised customer experience, it is important for marketers to make the shift to modern marketing solutions. These techniques can fundamentally help control and measure the engagement between a brand and its customers across every channel and at every stage of the life cycle.

These include anything from display advertising (initial awareness stage) to the website and initial permission-based direct communications on email or social media (during evaluation and consideration).