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Customers Today’s expect, if not demanding, highly personalized experiences, but what are the exact starting points companies can use if they want to create a better customer experience? This comes from Saleforce: Catharine Findiesen Hays, Co-Author (with Yoram “Jerry” Wind) of Beyond Advertising: Touchpoints Creating Value at All Customer.
With the proliferation of digital devices and platforms, today’s customers are more connected than ever. With unprecedented access to data at their fingertips, they are becoming better informed about brands and their purchasing options. Not only are this new breed of customer more demanding, they are increasingly expecting a superior experience in whatever business they interact with. They want the superior brand experience to travel with them, too, as they move through channels, offline, and back.
Generally, our expectations as customers are set by the last positive interaction we had, and for Hays, like many of us right now, that has been with Amazon. “In my case, the Amazon team offers a weekly message suggesting products that I might like based on my browsing and purchase history – a seemingly simple digital service that is also intuitive and frictionless,” Hays said.
Of course, it’s more difficult to create that kind of immersive experience if you don’t start with a great understanding of how customers interact with your brand, what they like about the interaction, and what their pain points are.
Hays points to new capabilities brought about by technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) that can help companies gain such insight. Machine learning applications, for example, use intelligent capabilities to capture and analyze vast amounts of data on customer behavior, adapting and learning in real time. “This can help companies understand, in the moment, the customer motivations that affect purchasing decisions,” Hays said. “It can help them better anticipate customer needs and build relationships that can drive increasingly engaging experiences.”
While customers expect companies to understand their individual needs and personalize the brand experience to meet them, Hays points out the danger of applying too narrow a lens in this regard.
Hays also points out that the technology that captures customer data at scale doesn’t know us as much as a person as it does our behaviors. “Understand that as you interact with any product, these are the characteristics that move you in this direction or in that direction. So the ‘personalization’ seems more precise. “
Making data and privacy principles and safeguards paramount
While many people are comfortable providing relevant information about themselves in exchange for better experiences, a trust gap, when companies use customer data in ways that seem invasive or Simply irresponsible, they can also threaten customer relationships.