From Minutes to Micro-Moments: How to Deliver on Today’s Real-Time Customer Expectations

Adobe Stock / bgton

by Adobe Experience Cloud

posted on 12-05-2017

While changing a flight for his wife online, Kevin Lindsay, director of product marketing for Adobe Target, hit a roadblock and was told to call in to the airline’s customer service number. Surprisingly, the call provided the type of dynamic, personalized experience everyone hopes for — and which Kevin helps encourage companies to deliver. The automated voice said: “This is a number we recognize — is this Kevin Lindsay? Say yes or no.”

“I answered, ‘Yes,’ and then the voice said, ‘We noticed you may have been having trouble trying to change a flight on our website. Is that why you’re calling?’” Kevin recalls. “While the experience itself wasn’t all that exciting, it was a micro-moment of interaction with a brand in which I got to skip all the garbage that usually comes with dealing with customer service.”

Brian Solis, principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter Group, a Prophet company, describes a “micro-moment” as the instance in which customers shape preferences and make decisions using their mobile device. “Brands need to be ready to respond to customers in the exact micro-moment they are available,” Brian says. More so, he says that advertising, content, and click paths must be mobile-optimized to “be present, be quick, and be useful.”

Real-time, intent-driven micro-moments matter along the customer journey. One study shows that more than 80 percent of smartphone users consult their phones while they’re standing in a store deciding which product to buy — with one in 10 buying a different product than they had planned. And another study reports more than half are not willing to wait longer than five seconds for a web page to load. Marketers no longer have the luxury of minutes to deliver relevant and dynamic personalized information, nor can they do it on their own timetable. If they want to keep a customer engaged and coming back for more, they must be ready to deliver personalized offers when the customer is ready, and in the time they have.

Brian also explains how mobile adds another layer of complexity as you respond to customer interactions, because it brings anytime, anyplace access to the customer. He says, “Mobile won’t be the only channel, but it should cause marketers to think differently about the context of a micro-moment and what it is a person may be experiencing and where. You can no longer assume that they are in their home or office at a desk and focused on your message without distraction.”

To effectively reach customers in the moments in which they are making decisions, you must reimagine customer engagement in a mobile environment, and adopt tools that will empower you with intelligent data and analytics.

Help micro-moments take flight with integrated data.

To be able to identify travelers like Kevin in the moment they call, airlines use intelligent data systems that allow them to help clients navigate their entire journey — the purchase, seat selection, check in, etc. Doug Anderson, senior product marketing manager at Adobe, also cites his experience booking travel as an example of a brand using its data to help him do what he wanted in the time he had available.

“When I went online to book a flight, the airline already knew who I was. They knew where I had traveled with them in the past and they knew my seating preference. That’s not so unusual. But what was remarkable was that the airline had this information not because they asked for it, but because they were savvy enough to use their data for my benefit and convenience. They knew exactly who I was, what I had done before, and what I would most likely do again. And they offered that experience to me in the moment.”

Doug knows delivering the dynamic, in-the-moment experiences customers want can be daunting for many marketers, especially given disparate technology solutions from legacy systems and siloed organizations. He says, “The airline never made me feel like it was hard — they acted like it was no big deal. But providing that type of experience puts a lot of demand on brands to take advantage of the data they have. If they do, they can quickly respond and adjust in real time to deliver the experience the customer needs right at that particular moment.”

Use technology tools to see data patterns and optimize journeys.

Delivering experiences in the micro-moment takes a combination of not only accessing the right data, but also having the right tools with which to analyze it. “Data analysis can provide insights into when and where micro-moments occur and how to optimize them, and therefore improve customer experiences, satisfaction, and loyalty,” Doug says.

Marketers must have the tools and know-how to find opportunities in the data that will optimize the interactions they have with their customers. Kevin explains, “It is one thing to have the data, whether through customer relationship management software, financial data, audience managers, etc., but it is another to wrangle the data, standardize and normalize it so you can show the customer you know who they are and what they like and what they don’t like.”

Essentially, with the right technology, you can have a very complete profile of your customers. An artificial intelligence system can then predict immediately what people want and need, allowing you to work with a content management system to deliver the best information and response, anywhere in the world, at any time, and on any device.

“These systems can perform the whole ‘listen, predict, assemble, and deliver’ process millions of times a day or a second,” adds Kevin. “As marketers, and as experience businesses, we need to give customers the experience and the content they want, and we have to get it right — this time and every time.”

Identify each leg of the journey for fluid connections.

To help intelligent data systems make micro-moments possible, marketers need to identify what particular interactions customers expect along the journey, and how to deliver them. “As a marketer, you have to figure out every possible touch point, every small interaction, and engineer those touch points in a way that your customer doesn’t feel like they are being moved from one point to another. It should all appear natural and fluid to them,” explains Doug.

For example, Apple removed cash registers from its stores so an employee can walk right up to the shopper and say, “I see you are interested in that phone you are holding. You can buy it right here, right now, without having to wait in line,” Doug says. “It removes the friction, especially in the last minute or real-time micro-moment scenario where waiting in line at the store or waiting on the phone to buy a plane ticket might give your customer a chance to stop and think something is wrong — and then not make the purchase.”

Mastering the moment takes a solid understanding of your customer — one built on their individual behaviors, as well as the collective information you have from identifying trends and anomalies across the market. Analyze and leverage the customer data your company compiles every second of every day — whether browsing history, location data, or purchasing habits — to help your experience business strategies take off.

Hear more stories from top brands who know the power of putting great customer experiences first in their organizations, or read more in our #KnowYourCustomers series.

Topics: Digital Transformation

Products: Analytics, Experience Cloud, Experience Manager, Target