How to Automate Your Customer Experiences in 2020
by Calvin Smith
Traditionally, customer sales and engagement have been largely based on bringing customers into the seller’s environment, whether it be a brick and mortar store, website, ecommerce system, or even digital business solutions. As the customer enters, they are immediately immersed in an experience that is defined by the provider or seller. Customers are then categorized into segments, and their interactions are analyzed and modeled, often referred to as the “customer journey.”
Providers and sellers are usually preoccupied with managing the customer’s interaction with the organization through the provider’s context—an inside-out approach. In an age of hyper-personalization, this approach is becoming increasingly outdated.
This blog will discuss the evolution of digital business pathways, from CRM to CX management to context-drive customer engagement, and two major trends within customer experience: predictive buying and understanding customer journeys in real-time.
The Evolution of Digital Business Pathways
Before we dive into the trends, it’s important to understand the foundation of customer experience and customer journeys:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer relationship management started out with a focus on providing the capabilities and data storage for sales professionals to track and manage sales. As sales processes progressed, CRM evolved into a practice of tracking and managing customer interactions by automating and digitizing customer touchpoints (sales, support, marketing, and lead management) and providing business analytics.
As the number of touchpoints with customers has increased dramatically, a system was needed for engaging customers beyond just sales tracking and management. This paved the way for customer experience management (CX).
Customer Experience Management (CX)
Customer experience management provides an additional level of information and management that is enabled by collecting more customer data from any online (apps, websites, and searches) or personal interactions (video, call, and image analytics), as well as information from partners.
The shift towards customer experience management provides a new opportunity to leverage new technologies such as predictive analytics, digital transaction management, digital business platform, IoT, digital advisors, virtual and augmented reality and even gaming. However, while customer experience management provides a good start, it is no longer enough when it comes to meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
Context-Driven Customer Engagement (CE)
The problem with customer experience management solutions is that they are largely still based on the customer’s experience within the sellers’-defined business ecosystem. Context-driven customer engagement is the next phase of customer pathways and is the evolution of customer experience management. CE leverages AI to understand the customer’s context first and foremost. Additionally, it uses modeling and pattern matching of massive amounts of internal and external information to find connections that the customer might not have even previously considered.
As analyst Betsy Burton notes in The Next Evolution in Customer Experience (CX), if you’re just specifically thinking about customer engagement, then “you risk missing the opportunity to think differently about your business and waste investments due to lack of vision.”
Predictive buying is one of the trends Aragon sees as being a key enabler of automating the customer journey in 2020 and beyond. It uses machine and deep learning to understand your customer’s buying profile and behaviors, and then from that information, is able to predict their potential purchases. This invaluable insight allows you to pinpoint what your customer wants in advance—something that is critical for marketing and sales leaders. Aragon notes that the accuracy in predictive buying algorithms are still average at best, but we expect them to improve over time.
Customer Journeys in Real-Time
If you are still deploying legacy static marketing automation in 2020, you risk low quality customer engagement. Aragon predicts by year end 2022, the shift to real-time customer engagement will force enterprises to replace their existing batch-oriented marketing automation provider.
The bottom line is that impersonal marketing is no longer enough to support a thriving customer journey. Marketing content must match a customer’s journey, not simply guess what an individual customer may want based on campaigns that have worked in the past—for different customers.
Aragon sees automated journeys that adapt to users in real-time as the future of customer journeys. As a result of digital business and the pervasiveness of information, customer expectations—about how they purchase products and services—are changing. Marketers and business leaders alike must shift how they approach supporting the customer journey to ensure they are supporting the individual customer’s context.
Enterprises must understand that in the digital era, customers are expecting the companies that they purchase from to address their unique needs and expectations. Deploying an automatic, real-time customer journey will help your business understand your customer profiles and their preferences—which will help your customers get what they are looking for faster. Finally, it’s important to understand that you will not fully be able to understand and serve your customers unless you adopt an outside-in approach—which in turn can transform your service, processes, and business model.