Authored by Mike Sloman, Business Development Director at Arvato CRM Solutions
It’s essential that brands have an in-depth understanding of their customers to deliver the seamless, highly-personalised experiences that they expect in today’s retail environment.
This can’t be restricted to certain circumstances or particular channels. It needs to be a fully integrated, 360-degree view of customers’ preferences and behaviour across every touchpoint, both digitally and in store – updated in real-time.
The challenge for retailers is knowing how to implement this – or how to improve the systems they already in place.
Here’s how we’re helping our clients deliver the all-important ‘single view’, and also benefit from putting the data they collate to effective use.
Reviewing customer experience (CX) systems
When it comes to implementing a single view of the customer, the first step involves auditing and mapping the systems and processes that underpin a brand’s customer service.
This includes both the technology systems and the retailer’s procedures and personnel.
The improvement areas identified will vary from business to business. For example, in some brands, legacy IT systems may be limiting cross-company functionality. Others may have experienced rapid growth that’s seen them expand quickly and across multiple locations, resulting in potentially underdeveloped central CX or IT architecture.
Once an assessment has taken place, brands will find it easier to identify key focus areas that can then be optimised.
With the mapping process complete, the next stage involves consolidating all relevant information from across the organisation and integrating it into one easily accessible system.
This has its own hurdles. Information can be stored in multiple systems; across different departments and in varying, potentially incompatible, formats.
Gathering this together can be a very time-consuming task if done manually, but using technology like intelligent automation can help.
Intelligent automation works by extracting information from disparate systems, cleaning and normalising it, before feeding it into a centralised Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
Importantly, it can work quickly and independently, without the need for human intervention – enabling retailers to develop the up-to-the-minute customer data bank that underpins effective retail CX, while also reducing costs and freeing-up valuable employee time to focus on more complex tasks.
There are many possible applications. For example, intelligent automation can feed information from a delivery and returns system into a customer profile on the CRM, giving agents the ability to update a customer on precisely where a purchased item is in the warehousing and delivery chain at a moment’s notice.
Or, it could help a brand automatically combine information from in-store point of sale systems and e-commerce portals to generate a full picture of what a customer is buying or returning, and on what channels they choose to make certain purchases.
Alongside reviewing how tools like automaton fit into a retailer’s systems, this stage can also involve re-imagining the fundamental flow of data across an organisation.
Brands may, for example, have ‘structured’ information like sale figures, but be missing opportunities to combine this with ‘unstructured’ data – such as customer reviews or comments on social media channels.
Bringing this together, with the help of technology, can be the starting point to unlocking even more powerful insights.
Once data has been compiled and combined, the final step for brands is to determine how it’s going to be used. This centres on managing the information so it is available on the right channel, at the right time, and is being leveraged to best support a brands’ overall CX objectives.
What this looks like for a business will depend on their specific needs.
On a simple level, it could involve linking the CRM to a chatbot on a retailer’s website to enhance the tool’s ability to personalise the automated service a customer receives.
Or, it might mean integrating the data bank with technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), predictive behavioural omnichannel routing and customer journey analytics. This can be used to deliver insights to human agents on how best to tailor the experiences they are providing to different customers.
For example, the technology can generate on-the-spot offers for products that a customer’s purchasing history suggests they would need or like – supporting sales.
Alternatively, it can prompt agents with customer-specific ‘next-best-actions’ to help them quickly and proactively address specific problems to foster greater loyalty and reduce customer effort.
Meeting customer demands for factors like hyper-personalisation and seamless multi-channel service is an imperative in today’s retail landscape.
Building and maintaining a 360-degree customer view is vital for enabling brands to deliver the level of experience that customers expect – however, and whenever, they interact.
At Arvato we have extensive knowledge and experience of helping retailers transform their customer experience offering and implementing technologies like intelligent automation to help build this foundation.
Contact us to learn more about how your business can benefit too – CRMSE@arvato.co.uk.