“The goal of marketing is to know and understand the customer so that the product suits him and sells itself.” -Peter Drucker
Understanding customers well not only delivers great customer experience (CX), but also gives marketers a head start on what I see as the big opportunities for CX in 2022. We looked at these opportunities in my forecast and 2022 priorities for marketing and CX. But unlike the prediction lists of years past, these focus less on cutting-edge technology or innovative new practices and more on a “back to basics” approach – focusing on block marketing best practices and of wrestling or dealing with hot topics that we’ve had a lot of advance warning about. I have classified them in the acronym TRUE, which stands for:
- Trust and transparency in how marketers collect, use and protect information.
- Resilience and innovation in marketing practices to keep up with changing customer demands.
- Understand customer behaviors, preferences and sentiments comprehensively and in real time.
- Martech ecosystems that provide the integration, automation, and responsiveness needed for agile, hyper-personalized interactions.
Today I want to dive deep into understanding customers.
Peel onion on customer understanding
CustomerThink defines customer understanding as follows: “Customer understanding is learning everything you need to know about your customers, i.e. their needs, their pain points, the tasks they are trying to do, etc., and their current experiences in order to deliver the experience they expect in the future.
Marketers have struggled to get it right since I started my technology consulting career a long time ago. We have evolved from the first bank-specific CIF (customer information files) applications in the 90s, to industry-neutral solutions like ODS (operational data stores), MDM (master data management) and to today’s CDPs (customer data platforms).
Despite the constant search for solutions, understanding customers remains a major challenge and is very closely linked to data. In the Forrester study, When Data Drags You Down (pdf), two of the top five areas of focus for marketers were improving the quality of customer data and improving the use of data and analyzes. One of the biggest challenges marketers said they faced was the lack of integration between different data sources. When asked which martech would help them the most, technology that facilitates the data aspect of understanding customers was an important consideration. Five of the 10 most wanted technologies fell into this area:
- Integration of customer data across all channels tops the list at 80%.
- Customer data unification was 3rd, at 79%.
- Single source of 77% customer reports and insights.
- Single View of Customer via Advanced Identity Assembly 6e at 77%.
- Democratized access to data for campaigns 10th to 75%.
Related article: Money and mandate are not enough for a great customer experience
The basics of understanding the customer
One of the key takeaways from both of these lists is that the prevalence of digital business today makes the problem of understanding customers more difficult. Therefore, there are some considerations in addition to what marketers told Forrester that should make understanding customers more accessible in the digital world of 2022. These include the following:
A complete profile — which includes digital activity. The types of data marketers told Forrester they needed were an interesting mix of traditional and emerging data, including (in order): marketing response and interaction, identity, transaction, demographics, social media content, ownership and use of technology, applications, sentiment and preference. To integrate digital activity, the profile must be able to join known and unknown digital interactions across all owned properties, provide customer-level digital interaction data to track, track and sync customer behavior across devices and digital touchpoints, and combine online and real-time offline data so that all sources of customer data are synchronized (digital, transactional, demographic, account-level information, call center interactions, etc.). ).
Identity Management Services are needed to cope with digital activity. They aggregate data views for sessions, anonymous leads, identifiable traffic, and existing customers while updating user identification graphs in real time as new data is captured. These should also allow other first/second/third party data attributes to be joined via deterministic matching as well.
Confidentiality measures should be integrated with customer data solution that provide free cloud-based Personally Identifiable Information (PII) identifiers and customizable data collection and transfer processes compliant with regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. Gartner places privacy among its top digital trends for 2022, coining the term privacy-enhancing compute which can include encrypting, splitting, or pre-processing sensitive data to allow it to be processed without compromising privacy. The company states that it is an important mechanism for sharing data across the ecosystem and postulates that by 2025, 60% of large organizations will use one or more privacy-enhancing computing techniques in the analytics, business intelligence or cloud computing.
Hybrid Data Architecture it does not require all customer data to be lifted or moved to the marketing cloud or the customer database will gain popularity. Streaming data capabilities will replace the traditional lift-and-move requirement, as they can enable easy connection to any chosen data environment, enabling the use of data where it resides – leveraging investments existing ones, controlling confidentiality and accelerating time to value. Streaming data can also help detect events as they happen and incorporate that data into relevant, analysis-ready customer profiles. Streaming data can also eliminate the digital lag, the time between when someone takes a digital action and when marketers can incorporate that information into profiles, segments, and communications.
Data management capabilities should apply to all data, including digital. Another big digital trend from Gartner includes the adoption of a data structure. The data structure is designed to help overcome the data silos that continue to plague marketers. It uses built-in analytics to read metadata, which lets it know what data is being used. According to Gartner, the ability of a data structure to make recommendations for more, different, and better data can reduce data management by up to 70%. The company predicts that by 2024, Data Fabric deployments will quadruple data usage efficiency while halving human-driven data management tasks.
Addressing these considerations in the technology solution for customer data, whether it is an enterprise marketing suite or a customer data platform, will help facilitate the customer understanding that specialists marketers have been looking for since before I entered the profession about 35 years ago.
Lisa is Director of the Global Customer Intelligence team at SAS, where she focuses on customer intelligence, customer experience management and digital marketing. She is co-author of the book, href=”https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3a%2f%2fwww.amazon.com%2fbuilding-customer-centric-enterprise-warehousing – relation%2fdp%2f0471319813%2fref%3dsr_1_1%3fie%3dutf8%26qid%3d1409753445%26sr%3d8-1%26keywords%3dbuilding%2bthe%2bcustomer%2bcentric%2benenterprise&data=04%7c01%7cangela.>