Customer Centered Experiences Through Data
By Chris Slovak of Tealium
Awesome! Thanks Brian and thanks everybody for joining us at the Virtual Analytics Summit. I hope that you have enjoyed some of the presentations. There is really good material and hopefully we continue that in the next 30 minutes with our conversation. And that is to talk about how businesses are changing and how more importantly customer experiences are changing and how data is playing a critical role in that.
To kind of kick us off here, what I want to talk about are these sort of 5 factors that we see and then sort of the result mandates that drive out of these factors. These are, of course, factors that are changing experiences for consumers and all of which are fueled by data.
I think the first thing we have to look at is that business models are fundamentally changing. And that the experiences that consumers have with a brand or a product sometimes there actually more important than the product, right?
I think there’s no better example than delivery services. The idea of cabs or getting a ride, delivery service, form one point to the other has been around forever. But the experience of hailing a cab and getting in a gross taxi and have someone drive around in a car that looks like it’s going to fall apart at the next turn has really changed how we look at this service.
When you think about a program like Uber or Lyft, it’s the experience. It’s not the delivery service. Its not getting from A to B. It’s the experience. It’s the ease of getting that driver. It’s the quality that you get most of the time. The service itself from the cars themselves. And that’s a lot because, as you know, as a consumer you can actually rate and vote on your service.
And so, I think for us this disruption, this experience becoming as if not more important than the product is really a disrupting factor across the board. It’s not just taxi services but if you look across car rentals and banking and even something as insignificant in many cases, living in southern california is really insignificant, as a thermostat. I have friends here in San Diego where it’s 72 degrees everyday and they have Nest thermostats. It’s maybe a once a year it actually turns on the AC. But they have it because of the experience.The device itself is as interesting as what it actually does, which it turns on the heat.
This disruption is driven by data. This is a quick little visualization. You can check this out on Uber’s engineering page. They’re using data to guide the experience. Understand the experience. From the very first thing that somebody does all the way down into the all the stages that it takes them to either be a driver or a rider. They’re using data to understand what that customer is, and when I say customer, I use it lightly. Because Uber is the actual driver as well as the rider.
This adoption that data is key is actually met more importantly with the idea that the customer is always in the room. There’s a mandate that the customer is the center of everything. Amazon famously does this. They actually have a seat in their boardrooms that are open and empty for the customer. Why is that?
That’s because if you’re going to try and build great experiences for customers they have to be at the center. You have to empathize with them. You have to use the data, not just your opinion, to understand where they’re struggling. Then empathize on how to fix that. How do they feel about that? You of course can only do this if you invest in the experience and invest in building great content. You test, and you learn, and you adjust. All the things driven by data.
So, I think for us, game changing factor number one is the idea that experience is more important or as important as product. That drives this mandate, the concept that the customer is at the center and having and harnessing that data about the customer. Using it and empathizing with where they are and creating and adjusting your experiences to make their experience better is the first thing that we’ve got to consider when we talk about building customer centric experiences.
The second factor is that the moment matters. That moment, I think Google famously did this zero moment of truth that they talked about, now five, six, seven, eight years ago. That zero moment of truth matters. The moment is critical.
Consumers, they don’t think about channels, and campaigns, and devices. I'm sorry, they don’t. They just think about the brand.
I’m a big Patagonia geek. They’re actually tapping to be a Telium customer. That’s me with my daughter wearing our matching jackets. The brand is the brand. I don’t really think about going to a store versus the website versus mobile versus wearing the jacket. It’s just kind of all is the same thing to me. The brand is the experience, the experience is the brand. I don’t think about channels. I kind of do because this is the world that I live in, but generally speaking as a consumer of their products, I don’t.
The brand interaction that I have, it forms my opinion and it forms my brand relationship with them. Patagonia makes a lot of stuff for fly fishing, but I’m a surfer and a camper. I never use that stuff so for me, Patagonia is very much about my personal interactions which is using their gear for hiking, camping, and surfing. My relationship with them.
That relationship is very clearly defined by data because what I buy, what I read about, how I interact, what drives me and what stores I go to, all of those things underline data. It is the language of those relationships that I’ve created with them over time.
Moreover than that, what used to be considered as a funnel: Chris comes in, he buys something, he walks out and he’s done is giving way to a lifecycle. I think most customer experience organizations now, they’re adopting these infinity graphs or these cycles where customers aren’t just buying, but we’re creating loyalty and then we’re having them generate more activity and more adoption through word of mouth. We’re creating this feedback: happy customers who are interested become customers that stay happy customers that tell other people and they come back and they buy more or they get their friends to buy more. The funnel is moving to becoming a life cycle.
What is really interesting about that, the idea of campaigns and saying what you want to say all the time has to give way to the idea that your customers need to understand or want to hear from you in a different way based on context. There's a movement in this space today that goes from campaigns to conversations. How do you drive personalization? What is personalization? It’s not just, “I want to show you want you want to buy next because I want you to buy more.” Personalization is driven by building value to the customers based on where they are in their customer lifecycle. Sometimes I’m a purchaser, maybe I’m interesting in buying something. Sometimes I’m just somebody who needs help, and how you talk to me and the conversation that you have with me in that moment based on where I am contactually in that cycle, will drive our brand narrative. Will drive the relationship we have. If I’m having a problem, and you’re forcing new product down my throat, that’s not going to bode well for the brand. It’s not going to continue to create the brand experience that’s important.
So, we have to identify that the messaging that we use has to match the stage of which people are in. That happens even more importantly, at the front end of these cycles. In a prospecting sort of area. I hear a lot of customers that I talk to say, “I want to do one to one messaging, but I don’t know who these people are and I’ve never met them or seen them. I have no brand relationship because we’ve never interacted, but I want to have a one to one communication with them.” That’s a little creepy.
The brand should have a story and a narrative. It should have a core message itself. You should use that when you’re being full blast outreach. You should understand that the data that you have, because it is inaccurate, because you don’t know exactly who these people, they’re not leads or customers, that maybe the messaging of one to one isn’t the right way to go. Maybe it’s more about your core message. So, matching your message based on context, matching your message based on the understanding of who the user is, and relying onto the brand story itself as part of that relationship, as part of that narrative is really important. Again, all fueled by data.
What I think is the most critical mandate that comes out of this idea of where somebody is contextually and what have we done with them up to this date, how have we built a relationship based on data up to this date? Well is that real time becomes a requirement. A lot of companies say, “I’m not ready for real time. I don’t need real time.” Doesn’t matter. The moment happens in real time. You have to figure it out. You do not know when the next touchpoint is for that customer. You do not know what the context is that they’re going to reach out to you. You do not know what device or channel it might be on.
You know what you have to figure out how to do?
- You have to gather information.
- You have to understand what has led them to that point and who they are and what the relationship and data has shown you about them to date.
- You have to decide what they want to hear.
- You have to respond and or act based on the context of their needs.
Building a personalized experience based on giving them value, not just shouting, “Buy more from me!” So, for mandata number two, real time is an absolute. It’s a must in order to deal within the moment.
Number three. Data is an absolute business asset. I think this gets overlooked as a factor.
I always like to throw this out. Most people don’t know where data comes from. It’s a plural of “datum” which is a latin noun meaning that something is given. It’s given to you. There’s a lot of debate out there about first and third party and second party and all of these different types of data. Some of the most important stuff is something that is given to you. That first party interactions we were talking about before. How somebody interacts and is involved with your brand is super critical.
That piece of data that is given to you not only helps you understand the context, but it actually can also be used to understand identity. As individuals go through their cycles and as they go from someone you’ve never met, the gray scale of identity. They’re leaving little breadcrumbs along the path. If you’re smart and you look at those breadcrumbs, you can use them not only to understand where a customer is within their journey, but also more interestingly, you can line those up and use them to merge and collect and correlate data together to build a trusted identity resolution models.
All of these interactions that people are having with your brand, they’re actually giving little insights into who they are. You can use those little pieces of data to build more comprehensive understandings of who the user is. If you do this first and foremost, if you use these little breadcrumbs to say who a person is, at any point and time you should be able to understand fundamentally, regardless of what stage or what device or what the interaction is, whether it’s on a device or on a call center, you can talk about the consumer first.
Not what it is I should do next, but who is the consumer. Based on all of the data I’ve collected to date, at this point in time, what do I know? Who are they? What type of a profile? That sort of fantasy word. What is the segment, the audience? How do I define who this customer is to my business at this point in time? That’s the most important thing. If you understand who they are first, then you can get into what we should talk to them about creating conversations.
Moreover than that, using those same breadcrumbs, they tend to align in the workflow with the tools that you can use. Your channels and your technology will actually align with your data and your messaging quite nicely if you focus first on who the user is and where they are in their stage of the lifecycle using this data that they provide to you. Something that they give to you. You can create these better experiences.
Moreover than that, how do you do that? Well, great, we have to make data a first class citizen. There’s a lot of talk about the concept of a data layer in the industry. Many times it gets this context that it’s something I hard code on the page or on the mobile application, and yes, to some extent that’s true. Think about it a little bit more conceptually. It’s how your business takes ownership and drives a taxonomy so that you have consistency in the data and a point of control before you send this data downstream to any and all adtech, martech, what we would consider the application layer.Data has to become a first class citizen. The concept of the data layer for the organization is a strategic need.
Moreover than that, the company should understand what the supply chain is of that layer. Where is my data? How do I collect it? Do I have access and rights to collect it? Have I done the GDPR consent transparency stuff? Do I need to transform it? How do I define my business taxonomy? What are translations that I need to do for tools and teams and vendors? Do I need to enrich the other data sets? Do I need to bring in and combine it with data that I have from a traditional sense? You know the offline because we’re talking about digital.
Then, based on all of this data that I have and the identity that I can drive who this person is, what are the different tools that I can link up? As we talked about before. As the tools and technology align directly with the messaging and the data, I want to syndicate what I have everywhere and empower my teams with it. Deciding that data is a strategy as a first class citizen for the business and then understanding what the supply chain of that data is and that data layer are two critical concepts that need to be tackled.
Which leads us to mandate number three. When it comes to customer centric experiences, having access to and ownership and management of your data layer is critical.
- The organization needs to have freedom of data. When I mean that, I mean keeping data out of silos. Keeping data out of organizational blockers just because, “I have my own data and you have your own data, and I have my own KPIs and you have your own KPIS.” Making the data accessible universally through visualization tools or reporting engines.
- As a business because you’ve made it a strategic mandate to manage the data as an asset that you create access and structure and focus around it.
- You’ve not only realized that you have technical requirements around the data, but you’ve adopted a business strategy so you have teams and people who their sole job is to make sure that the business as a whole has data.
- You looked at it and recognized because the interactions that a user has with your brand, that’s the thing that is the brand narrative. That’s the thing that is the brand relationship. That first party data set that you have is a competitive advantage. It’s something completely and wholly unique to you and your customers. It's something that only you have and something that can be used to create and continue the conversation and the narrative with your customers.
Governance and trust are synonyms.
As factor number four comes up, we all have been spending a lot of time talking about customer expectations and brand relationships. Then we have the brand goals and what we’re being held to from a regulatory perspective around privacy requirements and data is in the middle.
I think when we think about customer data, it’s easy for us to think about governance from the perspective of, “We don’t want to get sued. We don’t want to be in front of congress. We want to focus our efforts on protecting the company.”
I think that we’ve missed the point, which is in many cases, precursors to massive change around data and the adoption of governance. They’ve been there a long time, and it’s not just the regulators. It’s the consumers themselves have been demanding protection, they’re using Ad Blockers or they’re joining advocacy groups. We’ve seen that some of the other publishers in the industry, they’ve put up bigger walls to protect their gardens and to protect their consumers. Yes, governments are getting involved, but businesses internally have gotten a lot more scrutinized as well on how data is managed.
When we talk about governance, we should also consider the concept of trust. Consumers, because they’re the first factor driving us down the route of governance, they’re taking action now. They’re actually being proactive in deleting things or turning off cookies. This is just in the last twelve months, a study that was done. What I think it illustrates, and while it’s still not as far as Europe when it comes to the actions that we see from respondents, there’s still a moving market that is saying, “I am in control of my data as a consumer, and I am going to take action against you. Brand, internet provider, app provider, to protect myself when I feel that trust is misplaced.”
Of course, that’s been met with the following regulations as well. The big one that everyone had to deal with coming up last May was the GDPR. But really across the board, we’re seeing either enhancements, developments, I think just last week Argentina launched a new GDPR-esque law. Here in California, the California Privacy Act or the CCPA, will become effective in 2020. It’s got a lot of moving parts, but it’s the first in the states to take on this deep need from a data and digital privacy perspective.
The changes are there, the attitudes are there, but if governance is done correctly, if there’s a clear value exchange and a clear understanding of trust, consumers will share their data. If there is value to it. Remember, we talked about how personalization will be driven by value to the customer and not to the brand or not about conversions, but if they understand and see the value of sharing data with you because they trust you, because they will get value out of the use of their data, they’re willing to do so.
So, even though there’s this huge trend pushing towards more control and more governance, if it’s met with trust and transparency and value, you can still be successful with your customers.
Which leads us to mandate number four. I just call it governance. Most systems out in the market today, regulations today, kind of follow the same sort of highlight if you will of the golden rules.
- Transparency of use.
- There’s a variety of consumer rights (access, deltion, and notification). I put a little note in here, remember we talked about at the very beginning we talked about to create empathy around the consumer to understand what their perspective is with your brand. Wouldn’t you, as a consumer, want any brand that you purchase from to give you access, deletion, and notification of how your data is being used? These are the things that should seem fairly easy, but I think sometimes we forget about as employees and not consumers.
- Then, you know, I would say the two mandates that come out of these needs at the front would be that brands need to be in control. They have to take ownership of what they’re doing with that data.
- They’re going to need tools to have clarity on where and when and how they’re sending data as well as auditability.
Last, but not least, from a game changing factor, there just is too much data. I think everyone kind of knows about this.
There’s almost 80 billion, or going to be 80 billion, devices online in the next ten years. It used to be that there was digital and then there was traditional experiences, and that line is blurring. Smart TVs, interactive ads. A lot of the page recognition. I mean look at what Amazon is doing with their storefronts.
The lines between digital and traditional, they’re blurring. Half the world is connected to the internet one way or another. I believe, I don’t have it in here, but it’s something like more than half of the world now has a smartphone as well or has access to a smartphone, which is just crazy.
The internet is ubiquitous, it’s growing, it’s continuing to grow. The amount of data that's being created at any touchpoint, it’s just so far beyond really any one person’s ability to manage. That’s going to happen universally, but it’s also going to happen within organizations.
What do we have to do? We have to turn to artificial intelligence and machine learning, in particular. I’m not going to go through a whole machine learning presentation here today, I’m just talking about the factors that are going to be game changers. I think the inclusion of AI into our data story is going to be critical.
Before you do that, one thing that has to be mentioned, I think you’ve got to tread lightly on this, is that not everybody is ready to be AI focused. I hear too, “Well we will have AI in this one system if we get AI over in this other system.” But any model is only going to be as good as the data it gets. So as you move forward in this space of ML, you have to tread a little lightly. You’ve got to understand that there is collection bias, that is a thing. You have to understand that it’s not magic and you can’t just put your hands up and say, “I want computers to do everything.” That’s not possible. There’s going to still be a mix of people and technology in this.
We have to remember that a computer can’t always pick the best next thing. That sometimes the brand has to be a storyteller. Sometimes you have to recognize that your core brand message or the context to the user needs a different type of approach than just simply, “I want to convert them.”
The last thing that I see a lot too is this idea that it’s a set and forget. “Well, I’ll get the machines to do it, and I’ll never have to do anything.” Look, I like my job, computers can’t replace everything in the world. We still have to be storytellers, we need to use critical thinking based on the insights that get back from the data, we have to make good decisions on how we approach the conversation with the consumer, not just based on the context of where they are and the insights that are provided to us. You have to find that happy middle ground between the magic that is marketing and the magic that is the creativity and the brand story as well as what the conversation has led us to a point in context of the consumer.
So mandate five, clearly, we have to be AI and Ml ready. How do we do that? What do we actually, logistically do with our data.
- First, we have to have valid and consistent streams of data. That goes all the way back to our data strategy with the data layer and our data supply chain.
- We have to be prepared to listen to insights because sometimes we can overcorrect and feel like our opinions are 100% the right way. We have to listen to those insights.
- We have to be able to use those insights. And we have to balance that story versus knowledge.
- Then outside of just strategically listening and using these insights we have to go hire, train, enable, and prioritize how we’re going to use these products and who’s going to do them within the organization.
- I always put the last thing there because I’m a true believer that brand experiences and brand relationships are derived out of the sort of narrative that a consumer has. That narrative is defined by data and can be sort of spoken about in data. But that the brand itself still has a very important job to play in this story telling narrative. It’s something that can’t be forgotten in a world that the computers will pick it all.
To wrap this up here, first and foremost, experience is almost as important, if not in some cases, more important than the product. We have to have the customer at the center. We need to empathize and think about how the experience is going to be around them.
The moment matters to them. They don’t think about channels. They don’t think about devices. It’s just the brand. We have to be real time with our data. We have to make real time decisions based on what we can figure out to that point in time.
The data itself is a business asset. We have to access it, own it, and recognize that the first party data sets and those touch points that we have consumers not only fuel number one and number two, but they are completely and wholly unique to that business and that customer which means that they are a competitive advantage in the business.
Because we’re getting this data, it is something that’s given, data is something that’s given, we have to develop governance and trust. It’s a must for the business. It’s not just something that we’re going to have to do because we’re going to get sued, but we should do it so that we can continue to create better brand experience and narratives and relationships that people trust.
And then last but not least, let’s just be ready that there’s going to be too much of it. All of this above, all of the devices, the proliferation of the internet and mobile, there’s just going to be too much data. We have to be ready, looking at opportunities to use AI and ML. We have to have validata sets that are consistent using those data supply chains that we defined above.
We need to make sure though as we venture into the new world as the computer’s telling us what to do that we balance that based on what the brand messaging is, and we’ll create this great experience of generating narratives, building brand relationships, at the same time optimizing based on a world full of data that is just too much for a human to capture.
So, with that, thank you so much for your time. I hope you enjoy all of the other presentations today, and Brian, back to you.