The five critical components of a real-time CX


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A common and costly challenge that many companies are facing is giving customers the experience they deserve. Bad investments, organizational issues, and business adoption are part of the problem, but a misunderstanding of what customers really want –and how to deliver it –is causing relationships to crumble.

In a recent survey of more than 3000 customers on what they are demanding from brands today, Pegasystems found two-thirds don’t believe that brands care about their needs – and given the current Martech landscape, it’s easy to see why.

The issue is that most solutions in the market today were built to support business needs, not to solve customer’s problems. They were designed to help companies create segments and execute batch campaigns, not address the complex emotions and real-life circumstances that can send customers down a new path within seconds.

“In uncertain times like now, you can’t continue to use the same old approach,” said Andrew LeClair, senior product marketing manager at Pegasystems, said at the recent MarTech Conference.

When engaging with your customers, consider these five critical components of real-time customer experience.

1. Customers want to feel that they are cared for

“The most important thing that customers want from brands today is to feel like they’re cared for,” said LeClair. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is nothing people want more than to feel connected and understood. Brands need to remember they’re in a relationship with every one of their customers. It’s not just a series of disparate interactions.

Now more than ever, brands need to engage with customers instead of talking at them. It’s about empathy. It’s about understanding your customer’s feelings, thoughts, and emotions and adapting to that within a given conversation. But brands struggle when they try to do that at scale.

To fix it, LeClair recommends companies adopt a real-time, next-best-action approach. “Instead of just looking at sales offers and trying to figure out who to push that to, we need to flip the script. LeClair noted. “Customers, not products, drive revenue. So instead of starting with a product, we need to start with a person and in real-time determine if now is a time to sell? Or serve? Or retain? Then deliver that next best action in their moment of need.”

2. Adapt as needs change

Customers are not looking for static one size fits all experiences. To keep pace with their ever-changing needs, you have to be able to move agilely and adapt quickly enough, or else they will go elsewhere. “It’s not just about calculating a next best action once,” said LeClair. “Every time a new piece of data comes in, we need to use that to rescore that person’s entire profile and calculate a new, next best action.”

To shift experiences in real-time, LeClair recommends incorporating four elements into your agile marketing.

Detect the fact that their needs have changed. If you don’t detect your customer’s needs, you won’t know how to engage with them. It’s more than monitoring what the customer does. It’s paying attention to what matters to them now.

Data is the next element. Once you detect behavior or needs have changed, combine that real-time data with their entire interaction history to see if it is significant or not.

Decide what to do next. Now that you have this new piece of data, decide on what your next best action is. If you know someone is in the market, you can shift from nurturing them to selling. Or, if they’re having an issue with your products, pivot to service and address that instead.

Deliver what your customer wants. Once you know what that next best action is, deliver it to the customer in channel and in the moment.

How quickly you can through these four steps will directly impact the customer experience. According to LeClair, “The best in class organizations can do all of this – from initial detection to data assembly, to making a decision, and delivering it – in less than 200 milliseconds”.

3. Proactively provide relevant information

Customers want what they want right now. Because they live in the days of Alexa and Google, customers don’t have time to search through four or five pages to find an answer to a simple problem. Brands need to anticipate needs and reach out before something becomes a problem in the first place.

According to LeClair, where this becomes a differentiator is when one channel immediately influences what happens in another. LeClair gave the example of how a customer’s browsing behavior immediately impacted their mobile experience, which immediately impacted an engagement they had with a service rep in the call center.

By constantly monitoring your customer’s context and proactively triggering value add messages when a need arises, you can constantly keep that person engaged and earn the right to have additional conversations further down the line.

4. Customize to the current situation

Customers continue to crave personalization. But building out new strategies, figuring out who they apply to, and making sure they’re the only ones who see it is hard.

“More often than not, brands are forced to default to a static, or segment-based experience, which the update in batch. So ultimately, what a customer sees isn’t really about them. It’s about someone who may have looked like them whenever the last time they refreshed the data.” said LeClair.

The key to overcoming this challenge is to treat every experience as a unique opportunity to deliver a series of next best actions in real-time. That way, the customer only sees the best and most relevant content for them at that moment.

5. Consistent and connected across channels

Finally, your customers want the experience to be consistent and connected across channels. Every channel should learn and adapt along with all the others, so you speak in one connected voice. It’s one brand to one customer.

The challenge lies in your stack. With over 8,000 options in play, there’s a lot to choose from, and yours has likely been built up over the years with a series of best-in-class point solutions.

The problem, according to LeClair, is that “Even if they’re from the same vendor, none of these were built to work together. In reality, there’s 8,000 disconnected, siloed applications, each with their own rules, their own data models, and their own unique ways of understanding and interacting with customers.”

The key isn’t to rip and replace all of your channel-based solutions. Instead, LeClair recommends unifying these solutions with one centralized, decisioning authority that sits at the center of all your channels, collects and analyzes data from them, then uses that to make a next-best-action decision for each customer. That way, regardless of channel, you can give your customers the best and most personalized experience possible. 

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