Without integrating disparate data structures, it is pretty much impossible to drive customer experience excellence, particularly in an omnichannel world.

Customers today have a high expectation of the companies that they do business with on a regular basis. While nearly everyone that you ask will say that they find data requests too intrusive, that has no impact on what they feel companies should know about them. Do you find yourself being frustrated when Google doesn’t intuitively “know” the context of what you’re looking for based on past searches, or when mobile searches doesn’t offer directions to the closest location of the business you’re looking for? Or when Amazon.com’s recommended products miss the mark?

Customers today have a high expectation of the companies that they do business with on a regular basis. While nearly everyone that you ask will say that they find data requests too intrusive, that has no impact on what they feel companies should know about them. Do you find yourself being frustrated when Google doesn’t intuitively “know” the context of what you’re looking for based on past searches, or when mobile searches doesn’t offer directions to the closest location of the business you’re looking for? Or when Amazon.com’s recommended products miss the mark?

This seamless integration of data from a wide range of disparate sources feels seamless . . . most of the time. The problem is that most companies don’t have the near-limitless resources of Amazon.com and Google, so how do you create a cohesive omnichannel user experience? The key is having access to actionable data.

How to drive Omnichannel Customer Experience Excellence?

Next-Gen Cloud Architecture

We’ve been through local data storage, private on-premise cloud data centers, public cloud services and now we’re coming to what may be the new best-practice: hybrid clouds. These solutions offer the flexibility and accessibility of private data storage solutions with the scalability and sheer power of a public cloud. By keeping vital data safe within your private cloud, you’re able to expose only a portion of your data that is needed to drive excellent user experiences at the point of contact–wherever that may be.

Surprise and Delight

When you include the widening availability of sensors and RFID fields in devices, you’re opening up a whole new world of possibilities.

Today’s standout customer experiences are driven by “surprise and delight” marketing–a customer receives a time sensitive, pop-up coupon as they drive towards their favorite store, or an email with a discount offer on days that they don’t tend to visit a regular location. Mobile searches for a store return not only the closest location with directions and a phone number, but store hours and similar options as well.

When you include the widening availability of sensors and RFID fields in devices, you’re opening up a whole new world of possibilities. Walking down the camping aisle in a high-end department store could launch a video showing you how to use a particular piece of equipment, such as how to assemble a camping tent. Wouldn’t customers be much more likely to purchase an item that they could visualize themselves assembling? Marketers think so.

Data Orchestration

While averse to tacitly providing you with information, customers have a high expectation that marketers and technology teams are constantly capturing information that will make their customer journey more positive. If a customer performs a search on their desktop and then hits the road to make a physical inspection and purchase, the expectation is that their mobile app already knows that they have been searching–even if they weren’t on the app previously! Stitching together these micro-moments within a transaction requires an infinitely complex level of interaction between various channels.

IoT and CX

Providing the optimal Customer Experience (CX) will be more dependent on the IoT (Internet of Things) in the future. With everything from fitness equipment to home monitoring to your vehicle containing smart technology, the petabytes of information that need to be processed in near-real time can bring a traditional data structure to a screeching halt. Augmented reality is coming quickly, as evidenced with the craze surrounding the Pokemon Go mobile app, which should rightly be considered the harbinger for future use-cases. Once marketers see the power available in technology, their expectations will continue to expand.

Cloud-Based CRM

Managing customer relationships used to be done through a call center, with DOS-based lists of previous purchases and contact information. While it quickly flashed through 10 years or so of web-based preference centers and order interfaces, customer relationships are increasingly complex and need a tool whose complexity matches that structure. SalesForce is one of the next-gen, cloud-based CRM systems that seeks to pull together this diverse data and attempt to add some value to drive marketing automation and campaign management.

Predictive Analytics

While most platforms are still struggling a bit with creating a true omnichannel system, many integrate mobile apps, texting, email and calling.

What causes a customer to click the “Buy” button on a particular device, on a particular date, at a particular time? Predictive analytics attempt to discover–and overcome–objections to a sale, and offer variations that might keep you shopping or interest you in expanding your purchase. Offering “Related Products” on your website is a very elementary implementation of this important concept; a more complex (yet still simple!) execution would be an email that triggers when you are near a physical store after you abandon a cart . . . and the product you were interested in just happens to be on sale this week. Bringing together the level of data required to execute requires not only top-notch analytics but also a marketing automation engine.

Marketing Automation

Hand-in-hand with predictive analytics, a marketing automation engine such as Adobe Marketing Cloud’s Campaign, Sales Force Marketing Cloud or Marketo allows smart marketers the ability to pre-define specific use cases and set up a highly-complicated series of triggers. While most platforms are still struggling a bit with creating a true omnichannel system, many integrate mobile apps, texting, email and calling. Oddly enough, one of the last options to come online may be one of the most effective and is certainly the oldest marketing tactic–print.

As production costs are reduced and organizations find themselves squeezed to make a profit and maintain market share, enhancing the customer experience may help entangle users in ways that could not be imagined 5 years ago. The challenge is in rebuilding traditional data structures to be flexible and robust enough to structure, contain and deliver relevant data in a timely manner. Cloud-based data structures can help, but having the right tools in place will drive your initiatives to success: marketing automation and campaign management, predictive analytics and a cloud-based CRM.

What strategics and tactics did you follow to integrate disparate data structures to drive an omnichannel customer experience?