As we start the new year, Gagandeep Gadri, VP, Head of Customer Experience & Analytics, Capgemini Consulting UK looks at how retailers, brands and marketers will look to perfect the customer experience in 2017.
Big data, increasingly sophisticated technology and upcoming changes to the regulations regarding data protection are moves which are forcing businesses to rethink the relationship they have with customers. Faced with a competitive market increasingly saturated by industry giants and start-ups alike, it is businesses themselves that can create a brand experience for their customers that will avoid getting left behind.
This drive for customer experience is becoming increasingly focused on what a business does to ensure both the security of its data, and how it manages the vast amounts of data received. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into full force next year, 2017 will be a year of preparation and change for any serious players in the personalised marketing game. Not only this, but as the availability of data grows, businesses will have to be increasingly selective if they are to avoid drowning both themselves and their customers in needless data.
This selectivity will become more and more about building emotional experiences for the customer. When you look at how Christmas marketing campaigns have developed over the years, there has been a noticeable shift from simply promoting products and services to creating empathetic and emotional journeys for customers. We are starting to see the same method of engagement being applied to marketing campaigns all year round, building on the need to make us feel something before we buy.
Marketers must begin asking themselves – ‘how do we make our customers feel when they engage with our brand?’. The task then must be to convey this in an emotive and fully immersive way through the use of innovative thinking and technology. No longer can a business expect to build a fully immersive relationship with its customers without building a synonymous experience across all platforms, devices and in-store.
With this in mind, you can expect brands to fully explore the new channels and technologies available to them over the coming year, be it biometric recognition, IoT, VR and location tech. Doing so will put them on the receiving end of a huge influx of data, creating the need for brands to implement a strategy which uses this data to its best effect. As this data grows, the best strategies will not be the ones that suffocate their users with irrelevant personalisation, but instead those that question the relevance of certain data to their customer experience model.
As such, 2017 will see marketers and brands working hard to determine exactly what their customers want to hear, and what data they need in order to achieve this. Narrowing their criteria, and waving goodbye to data which doesn’t provide these answers will be a critical move to implement – preferably before IoT technology really takes off!
Adding to this complexity is the impending implementation of the GDPR. This will be a real wake up call for brands, who will need to take steps to remain compliant with the law and ensure their customer data is secure. Demanding a great deal in terms of time and management, we will see brands taking steps towards this in 2017 – actioning changes to their cyber security, and becoming more transparent in how they use data.
In doing so, marketers will need to enter into a discussion with their customers about how they want their data to be used, be it targeting them with personalised newsletters, offers or competitions. Not only will this offer an opportunity to develop a one-to-one relationship with customers, but is likely to aid in the development of a much greater sense of trust between them too.
The phrase ‘customer experience’ has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Previously a term which encompassed very little in the way of real ‘experience’, the phrase now hints at the creation of meaningful and immersive relationships with customers. We would be foolish to think that customer experience won’t continue to be shaped by the creation of new technologies, and those businesses that fail to keep up with this will only get left behind. By taking customer experience to this new level of personalisation, brands will need to ensure that they are both adapting to new technologies, complying with regulations, and most importantly using the right message to target customers.
By Gagandeep Gadri
Head of Customer Experience & Analytics
Capgemini Consulting UK