How Data-Smart Marketers Deliver Better Customer Experiences

An experience system of record is the digital foundation every marketer needs.

Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager of digital marketing at Adobe, is a veteran traveler. During the last year, he booked over 150,000 miles with Delta. Since Brad is a busy executive, he appreciates that Delta provides him with seamless travel experiences such as free text messaging on flights and, his favorite new feature, a message when his bag has made it safely onto the plane.

Brad is also a Marriott faithful. “I’ve spent over 160 days on the road this past year, and Marriott has been my home away from home,” Brad says. “They really get me, and know that the last thing I want to do after a long flight is to deal with a lengthy check-in process.” The game changer? Mobile check-in and check-out with room-ready alerts.

If Brad forgot to bring toothpaste or needs extra towels, he can make a special request through his mobile phone to the front desk. A chatbox even asks if he needs anything else.

Experience is everything

“Making experience your business is good for your business,” Brad says. A recent Forrester report found that an experience business has 1.4-times faster revenue growth, 1.6-times the customer satisfaction rates, and 1.7-times the retention rates compared to companies that don’t focus on great experiences. The reason is simple, says Shantanu Narayen, president and CEO at Adobe: “People buy experiences, not products.”

The bottom line: Enterprises like Marriott and Delta are increasingly realizing the currency of delivering seamless experiences. They meet the customer where they are and through the medium they prefer, whether that’s mobile, chat, the phone, or in person. By engaging customers with personalized, seamless experiences, these companies can win loyalty for life.

To deliver these experiences, organizations must work smarter, adapting and changing to needs by adopting the right processes and tech solutions. This is where an experience system of record comes into play. It’s a platform that allows you to ingest, translate, and govern customer information from all your data sources, and then use that unified data to deliver highly personalized content and experiences to your customers at scale.

Demographics be damned

If content is king, then experience is the often more powerful queen. Both are essential for brands to meet customer expectations in today’s multi-channel environment.

Whether you’re playing the king or queen, it all starts with data. But how do you corral volumes and volumes of data, manage data from various kinds of sources, understand what the data is telling you, and customize messaging for each and every customer, all in the few seconds you have the customer’s attention? All this can feel like drinking water from a firehose.

Central hubs like Adobe Experience Platform — Adobe’s experience system of record — do the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. It works with your data in four key ways:

  1. Uses connectors to ingest data and enable consistent streaming of data.
  2. Governs and labels data to make sure it’s secure, uniform, and understandable.
  3. Enriches the data through machine learning and artificial intelligence, making it more sophisticated.
  4. Enables a unified profile to create better experiences for your customers.

While it used to be that businesses corralled customers into tight demographics — “Boomers prefer A” and “Millennials love B” — that is a thing of the past. Personalization is today’s mantra. “Leveraging the hundreds of trillions of data transactions we process every year, the experience system of record understands and aids the enterprise,” Shantanu says. This leads to smarter searches and better recommendations. Demographics are passé. We’re now able to deliver the holy grail for marketers: hyper-personalization at scale. Adobe Experience Platform lets you get much more out of your data.

How exactly do all the gears mesh together in this single version of the truth? Let’s take apart the machine.

Repeat after me: Data, data, data

Your customers are everywhere — mobile, social, and in-store. You have multiple touchpoints with them, such as loyalty programs, purchase histories, and support tickets. Don’t forget all the behavioral data — every impression, click, and IoT interaction.

As if all this complexity were not enough, there are additional wrinkles. You want to create a single view of the customer that also respects privacy and a whole host of governmental regulations. Think GDPR.

And while traditional CRM systems have been effective thus far at centralizing customer information, “those systems are fundamentally incapable of managing the volume, velocity, and variety of data and content required to deliver unified customer experiences,” Brad says.

“Grappling with the complexities of this consumer relationship is our core challenge: creating a unified profile that enables you to deliver a unified experience,” Brad says.

Cloud sourcing

All this data from disparate sources can be saved on Adobe Experience Platform. Data from other Adobe solutions such as Adobe Analytics Cloud, Adobe Marketing Cloud, and more are gathered in as well. Adobe Experience Platform is customizable to work within the framework of rules and regulations your business uses, both external, such as GDPR, and those that are unique to your enterprise.

Adobe Experience Platform crunches all the data: CRM, e-commerce and offline transactions, loyalty program data, behavioral insights from mobile, web, or email, and social interactions to create Adobe Experience Cloud Profiles — complete, unified, real-time views of every customer.

Equally important, an experience system of record facilitates data security and semantics so all of the disparate information is presented in one understandable vocabulary. Brad points to an example where the same individual may be referred to as a customer in your email system, a member in your loyalty program, a visitor in your web analytics system, and a cookie in your ad system. This individual could easily be recognized as four different people. The unifying language gets rid of the ambiguity.

You don’t need to be a Ph.D. in data science to understand what an experience system of record is telling you. Stakeholders of all skill levels can walk away with insights about customers, so everybody works smarter and collaboratively, leading to better outcomes.

Cue the content

Once you have the data figured out to create a unified customer profile, you can feed your customer the right content — whether that’s a relevant customer review, a coupon, or even restaurant recommendations. The right system can efficiently deliver that content and makes sure it stays on task. It needs to be robust enough to handle the different kinds of content as well, whether it is video, photos, or the latest fashion advice.

An experience system of record provides a central workflow for content and a pipeline for delivery so there are no stumbling blocks on the road to locating and delivering messaging at lightning speed. This is where data and content come together in Adobe Experience Platform.

Machine learning working for you

Brad reminds us that all this processing must take place at an incredibly high speed. “We’re talking about ingesting high-volume, high-velocity data and content, and letting you act on it in under 100 milliseconds from start to finish,” he says.

Machine-learning components in Adobe Experience Platform automate some of the mundane tasks related to content creation. These can include auto-tagging, auto-cropping, image recognition, and customer segmentation and journey prediction. Machine learning and artificial intelligence take these ingredients and put them on steroids to deliver at scale for an enterprise customer base.

Adobe Experience Platform helps you work smarter, and leverage your data and talent in more efficient and productive ways. “The culmination of this experience system of record is the ability to design, measure, and optimize an omnichannel customer experience that delivers hyper-localization that learns more and more as you interact with customers,” Brad says.

In the Marriott example, Brad’s response rates to emails, his clicks and likes online, and his past interactions with Marriott are all part of his unique customer profile. Here’s a guy who travels a lot, who just wants to check-in and check-out of his hotel speedily so he can move right to his next meeting and the work at hand. Still, there might be another guest, let’s call her Sarah, who isn’t just passing through hotels on the way to meeting customers. Instead, she loves to visit with her family, have a spa day, and go out for a night on the town. So, Marriott can feed Sarah marketing offers that she cares about, such as discounted spa weekend packages and restaurant recommendations. Her front-desk interactions are sliced and diced to deliver her an equally superior — though different — experience from Brad’s.

Fostering an entire ecosystem

Looking for special features that are custom to your enterprise? Not a problem. The Adobe definition of working smarter means you can adopt third-party solutions that plug directly into Adobe Experience Platform. Our experience system of record is flexible enough to let you add to the existing framework in case you are looking for more custom solutions. Building out an ecosystem of technology partners not only enables you to work smarter, it also empowers you to deliver the experiences your specific customers deserve.

In a world of data and technology, an experience system of record is a superhero without the cape. It brings people, processes, and technology together, and helps you deliver the personalized experiences that will set you apart from your competitors and build deep, long-term relationships with your customers.

Read more articles in our Working Smarter collection.