How to Bring Customer Experiences to Life

By Erin Raese, SVP of Growth & Strategy, Annex Cloud

Insider Intelligence reports that 88 percent of shoppers feel the experience a brand provides is just as important as its product. Personalized interactions are a must for retailers that want to win the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers in 2024. While many retailers have made significant investments in personalization, most still struggle with delivering meaningful experiences or realizing any measurable return. Why? Lack of a unified data strategy.

If you’re like most retailers, your marketing, customer success and ecommerce teams each buy their specific technology and configure data collection for what matters most to them—and nowhere are these data points matched to create a unified profile.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Your marketing team is using their email service provider (ESP) as the source of truth for customer profiles, but it's not tied to your ecommerce account database used for personalization. So, your email team can create targeted email journeys and land the customer in different parts of your site, but when they return from different channels, you can't identify them and continue a personalized experience.

Unified data is the first step, but a cross functional customer experience strategy using the same source of truth for profile data and segmentation is the golden ticket. Organizing and managing customer data to enable analytics, personalization and growth isn’t easy. A loyalty program can become a retailer’s source of truth to deliver relevant, personalized experiences across any channel. Technology vendors staffed with experienced pros can integrate a brand’s tech and guide their teams through a holistic CX strategy.

3 essentials needed to unlock the benefits of a unified data strategy

  1. Strong technology partners: Consumers’ needs and expectations are changing faster than ever. They’re engaging with retailers across a wide range of channels and no longer follow a predictable, linear journey. Retailers need flexible, scalable technology that enables them to quickly adapt, as well as show up where and how consumers prefer. Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS-based solutions, give retailers the ability to pivot quickly in new directions, test new communications and campaigns, and quickly make adjustments based on performance. SaaS technology is agile and built for growth.

  2. Seamless integrations: Consumers don’t think in terms of channels—they just want to be recognized, known and communicated with consistently no matter where they engage with retailers. Integrations allow customer data to flow seamlessly across a retailer’s tech stack, connecting the dots and enabling the retailer to personalize communications and offers—regardless of whether a customer is browsing the retailer’s ecommerce store, walking into a physical location, engaging with the brand on social media, interacting with the mobile app, or receiving an SMS message or email. Retailers need to go beyond collecting and storing data in one place—they need the ability to leverage the data across their customer journey.

  3. Intelligent communication plans: Unifying data isn’t enough. Retailers need to glean meaningful insights from that data and put them into action to elevate their customers’ experiences. This requires a cross-functional strategy with all subject matter experts collaborating and leveraging unified customer data to enable consistent, relevant communications across channels. It’s essential for retailers to know who their best customers are, what they value and where to target their investments. Sophisticated segmentation capabilities are needed to enable highly tailored interactions.

While many retailers have made significant investments in personalization, most still struggle with delivering meaningful experiences or realizing any measurable return. Why? Lack of a unified data strategy.

- Erin Raese, SVP of Growth & Strategy, Annex Cloud

Benefits of Unified Data

Loyalty Can Get Retailers There Faster

Data unification is the first step toward retailers maximizing the value of their customer data—and the payoff is significant:

Accuracy—Gain access to complete, real-time profiles that eliminate guessing and obsolete data
Efficiency—Reduce duplication and improve collaboration, empowering all team to access and leverage consistent data

Insights—Include all data points in analysis, improving your ability to identify trends, gaps and opportunities

Actionability—Improve segmentation, targeting and communications based on known preferences

Experiences—Deliver more personalized, relevant interactions across the customer journey

Outcomes—Make more informed decisions and uncover the biggest opportunities to drive growth

Loyalty programs are built on a mutual value exchange where customers willingly share their data in exchange for more personalized experiences. Modern loyalty SaaS solutions can collect unlimited attributes enabling retailers to truly know their customers. Integrations enable access to this rich data across every touchpoint, so retailers can recognize and serve up relevant offers and rewards no matter where customers engage. Advanced segmentation allows retailers to segment and act on any combination of attributes to maximize campaign performance. Retailers can expand their customer relationships beyond points to offer non-transactional value that builds deep, lasting connections. Loyalty can be the glue that connects all the data and provides value-driven opportunities to use that data to deliver rewarding experiences and drive growth.

JUNE 2024