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It’s customer experience that matters

In 2022, the question for your brand is: How do you serve, satisfy, and delight your customers?

It’s customer experience that matters
[ipopba / Adobe Stock]

Adtech is the massive ecosystem that sits between you and your customers when you buy media. Marketers have become consumed with the technology part of the equation and how it promises to reach customers wherever they are in the digital ecosystem. This value comes at a cost.

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Known as “the adtech tax,” it eats up almost one-third of every dollar spent by marketers.

How did this happen? Complexity. The adtech ecosystem is complicated and so are martech systems, the technologies deployed to manage brands’ direct interactions with people. Navigating these tech stacks can be a Herculean effort, with marketing organizations generally only able to use 58% of the capabilities their marketing stacks actually provide.

Add to that the angst over constant changes in the ecosystem and the impact of the deprecation of the third-party cookie, and discussions, technologies, and solutions can seem endless, with many brands feeling lost in the mix.

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Marketers have faced such an overwhelming array of adtech and martech that it has made it hard to keep sight of what makes great advertising and therefore makes advertising great: customer experiences underpinned by customer understanding. In 2022, the question for your brand is: How do you serve, satisfy, and delight your customers?

THE AGE OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

What is going right for brands? They’ve spent the last 18 months transforming themselves into digital and data powerhouses due to the rapid and extensive changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is not the time to slow down.

For brands that want to thrive in 2022, your next steps should be to minimize the noise and focus on building enhanced, data-centric engagements with your customers and prospects. Enhancing customer experiences (CX) and engagement starts with data and technology.

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All modern customer engagement is driven by reducing the friction people experience when dealing with a brand, and by increasing relevance. No matter the brand or the industry, people want great relationships and the conveniences and efficiencies that creates.

Whether someone calls, texts, or interacts with your brand in-app or in person, the information about their historical purchases, account status, and even preferences needs to be put to good use. That means customers feel heard, seen, and understood, and your teams have access to the data that makes it possible. It’s not just about data and technology—it’s about connected data and technology.

WHERE GREAT CX STARTS

When thinking of where great CX comes into play, it’s natural to think of apps, websites, and call centers. These are the client-facing portals people use. What is just as important is the underlying data and connectivity that exists between those systems. It’s the only way to ensure great CX is delivered seamlessly.

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CX technology starts at the data layer, where you can understand people and connect their experiences across all the touchpoints in their customer journey, both physically and digitally.

One of the most important solutions driving CX transformation is the identity graph that ensures brands understand and recognize their customers and prospects across those different touchpoints, both online and offline.

Anchoring customer data and transactional information in a brand-focused identity graph allows you to connect the various interactions people have with your brand, no matter the data silos (and there are always silos) or the vast amounts of technologies you deploy. This holistic customer view at the individual, household, or business level is what fuels connected experiences that drive meaningful CX and marketing.

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HOW IDENTITY CAN BE YOUR CX DIFFERENTIATOR

The identity graph is the foundational solution that powers many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies. It’s their key to managing and making sense of the deluge of customer data. Companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix all use these solutions to understand how people interact with their brands.

An identity graph solution helps you understand commonalities among your buying audiences. This understanding allows you to offer up more compelling information, content, products, and services.

An identity graph also helps you personalize in a way that is unique to your brand. New technologies, like customer data platforms (CDPs), offer real-time connections to make meaningful personalization possible, but they rely on your brand’s ability to have a connected data set.

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To truly deliver amazing experiences, brands must build on the learnings of what their customers and prospects have already shared with them in their journeys. Data (aka insights) about customer preferences and transactions makes personalization relevant.

WHEN GREAT CX PAYS OFF

We’ve established that great CX relies on connected data powered by technology, and that it means happy customers and ultimately growth for brands. But how do you know your CX investments will pay off?

Great CX is measurable, and it’s our collective job to do so. According to Gartner, a connected positive CX creates a more than 80% likelihood of a customer both growing their share of wallet with a brand in the future, as well as renewing their existing subscriptions or contracts. A 2020 study from Forrester cites 20 real-life company case studies and how great CX improved everything from increased revenue to decreased cost and reduced brand risk.

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As you plan your CX enhancements, plan to measure. One area to consider is your brand’s Net Promoter Score (NPS). A brand’s NPS is one of the best indicators of its growth compared to its competitors. Brands that are focused on delivering great CX and not just their next online ad are headed in the right direction.

I started by saying great CX requires a connected data and technology foundation. A good way to get started is to assess your overall marketing spend and understand what’s truly working and where your ROI isn’t great. Consider reinvesting any underperforming spend or incremental budget for 2022 into your CX strategy.

The best brands know that the value in being data-driven results in CX gold. In 2022, when your CX is data-driven, it means you won’t get displaced.

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Chad Engelgau is CEO of Acxiom, the leader in helping brands use data, identity, and tech to better understand and connect with people.

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