5 design considerations for your customer insights program

Personalizing communications and speaking to customers in a 1:You manner is something marketers strive to achieve.

1:You is a holistic customer experience strategy that focuses on personalizing communications with the best choice for individuals across all touchpoints or interactions. Whether you’re just beginning to harness the power of customer information for cross-organizational insight, or you’re deep in the throes of syncing golden customer data records in real-time across all customer touchpoints, there are five design considerations that can help propel you towards informed decisioning and greater customer personalization at a faster rate.

1. Recognize there are many legs of the customer journey you don’t see

Retailers today must sell across multiple channels — online, offline, and anywhere in between — to effectively compete in today’s buy anywhere, fulfill everywhere world.

In-store shopping generally means a sales associate is there to assist customers, though Big Box shopping trips still tend to feature more of a self-directed DIY adventure. Regardless, customers are pulling out their phones to compare features, check nearby store inventory and retrieve discount coupons no matter the retail format.

As the number of channels available for customers to interact with your brand grows, so do the number of touchpoints at which an informed customer dialog – based on an accurate 360 view –  can splinter. And the more non-digital, non-conversion oriented an interaction is, the less insight can be gleaned about the specific shopping mission or purchase intent.

For example, a bride-to-be may have several pre-purchase appointments to browse, size rings or apply for financing, none of which informs the parallel-universe digital journey a retailer is diligently measuring to better tailor her experience. Retailers are now able to recognize in-store behavior (like that of the bride-to-be) by matching offline behavioral data to make the experience more relevant as she accesses the website’s ring-builder feature with complementary product and digital video impressions served.

2. Strike a balance between physical, digital and human experience

Sales associates increasingly leverage mobile digital commerce technologies in-store to help them get closer to the customer. Specialty clienteling solutions such as Mad Mobile and Salesfloor incorporate customer preferences, purchase history and wish lists that empower staff to tailor recommendations based on known tastes and predicted interests.

When a desired product isn’t available in-location, it’s becoming easier to quickly fulfill via alternate inventory. For example, Coach applies their in-store customer service policy to save the sale and retain the customer via easy, human-assisted, online order fulfillment. A colleague of mine went to Coach in search of leather gloves for a last minute holiday gift but didn’t find her desired style in stock; an associate picked up on her frustration and immediately took out her tablet and cued up a basket with the right color and size – and free overnight shipping – in seconds.

The only thing my colleague needed to do was enter her credit card, and off she went. You can read more about navigating the human-digital sales divide in our new e-book, The human experience: Optimizing the human channel in the customer journey.

3. Connect and feed your customer data supply chain

Whether human-assisted or self-directed, a unified customer journey has to be informed by a robust record of customer interactions. At the call center, interactions are tracked with a digital trail of complaints placed, order assistance provided, personalized offers issued and specific products available in stock at nearby stores.

But when the customer heads to their local mall, insight to that history is generally unavailable to inform the subsequent human-assisted interaction. The data supply chain breaks; the result is a disconnected experience and a potentially disappointed customer.

At Epsilon, we make developing a strong data supply chain a core component of a customer insights program. Tracking where and when information is acquired, how, with what permission level, summarized to a useful human consumption level – to cross silos and connect efficiently – is the goal. This helps to synthesize and makes the insights output more actionable, and provides original sourcing for later identity resolution refinement.

4. The reciprocity rule

Modern enterprise customer insights programs are designed around more agile and automated data gathering methods than ever before. Explicit ‘share-and-get’ agreements between customers and brands offer personalization and preferred treatment in return for opt-in, customer preference updates and survey responses.

Brands are meant to deliver something back in return for a customer’s valuable opinion and intent feedback. I see brands most often fall down when it’s time to action on the insights. Something as a simple as the occasional “We listened and we’re making a change” email highlighting the product enhancement your developing based on findings from the enterprise customer insights program can move the needle on customer satisfaction. It further reinforces corporate transparency which is so important to developing customer trust and ultimately success.

5. Transform customer visits into conversations

From applying in-store customer messaging and survey polling solutions that’s integrated into a retailer’s shopping app, it helps them transform customer visits into a conversation. After creating a digital ‘hologram’ of the physical store perimeter, it’s possible to identify opt-in app users in-store to measure how long they stay, if they make a purchase, and more.

This creates a robust online-offline view into appointments, consultation trips and store browse visits that can be aligned to already captured digital activity and impressions. Understanding these additional insights helps to better personalize the customer experience yielding 1:You communications.

By designing your customer insights program with a mix of both research and communications combined, retailers can engage customers in a valuable dialog. Customers benefit from a personalized journey while helping the brand ‘see the invisible’ to assist them even better in the future; truly a win-win.

For more information on how to create a personalized journey for your customers, download our e-book.

*This post first appeared on Loyalty360.