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2017 was an ugly year for the consumer.

On the heels of data breaches (see: Equifax exposing personal data of 143 million people) and dishonest data scandals (see: Uber paying off hackers to delete stolen data), customer relationship management needs an overhaul in 2018. And customers are demanding it. They want not only organizations to ensure their data is secure, but also a fair value exchange for their data. If customers are going to share their personal information, preferences, and habits, they expect brands to deliver personalized offers, product recommendations and exclusive experiences for their continued patronage. Brand loyalty starts with companies treating their customers with loyalty.

But it’s a vicious cycle -- without the trust of sharing customer data, delivering personalized experiences are nearly impossible for organizations. But without personalized experiences, customers will make organizations pay the ultimate price: taking their business elsewhere. Poor personalization and lack of trust cost U.S. organizations $756 billion last year, as 41% of consumers switched companies (Accenture). Without deeper customer insight however, companies cannot deliver the experiences today’s customers crave. Organizations need the proper technology to gather and safeguard customer data to deliver hyper-personalized customer experiences.  

Many organizations are not equipped for this new age of secure data-sharing. With so many data feeds, data is not being shared efficiently across an organization or being stored into a single customer profile, resulting in wildly inconsistent customer experiences and disconnected and unfocused strategies.

Customers want to feel heard, which means organizations need to put the proper technology in place to listen and protect their data and then deliver the next best experience based on their actions. In a recent interview with MarTech Today, CMO at Frito-Lay Jennifer Sanz discusses the importance of “listening-first marketing”:

I think, to be successful, you have to have a listen-first mentality with consumers. You need to consistently listen and give them what they’re looking for, give them what excites them. You can’t force them to do anything.

A listen-first mindset and approach is critical, especially in a modern landscape where there’s an abundance of choice and an abundance of options. Making sure that you’re listening to what consumers want, and then delivering it, is our primary objective.

Here are the four ways to ensure your organization is ready to serve up secure and personalized experiences in this new age of the customer:

Be Transparent

Customers leave a breadcrumb trail wherever they go -- online, in-store, mobile web, mobile apps with each crumb giving organizations a better understanding of them: their interests, preferences, and purchases. And customers are fine with that as long as brands are trustworthy and transparent. According to a recent Accenture report, 75% of consumers are generally comfortable with retailers, news sites, streaming services, and service providers collecting personal data if they can control how it is used, and 70% of consumers are generally comfortable if the retailer is transparent about how they use it.

Be Personal and Deliver Value

New research from the Salesforce “State of the Connected Customer” report shows 57% of consumers say they're willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers or discounts. Additionally, consumers will share personal data in exchange for product recommendations that meet their needs (52%) and personalized shopping experiences (53%). Sending generic, one-size-fits all offers aren’t attractive to customers and are costly for brands. Loyalty programs usually cause one of two problems: either customers receive offers that aren’t relevant to them, or they receive heavy discounts on purchases they would have made full-price. Both scenarios result in a loss of opportunity or revenue for brands. Outreach needs to be re-designed to motivate incremental spend and frequency rather than blindly discounting.


Be Trustworthy

Digital trust remains a crucial barrier to enabling hyper-relevant experiences. Expectedly, a clear majority (92%) of U.S. consumers said that it is extremely important that companies protect the privacy of their personal information (Accenture). It’s imperative that organizations safeguard their customer data to continue to earn their trust by giving customers options to opt-out of certain communications or opt-in to receive information via a particular channel.

Make it Snappy

According to a recent SAP article, if customers have shared their data, 87% of respondents said they expect customer service to respond within 24 hours, while 20% said they expect a response within an hour. With the proper technology to build 360-degree profiles and a holistic view of each customer, service agents can understand each customer’s preferences, level of brand engagement and respond appropriately within seconds. Agents have the resources to act faster, provide personalized service for each customer and maximize customer value.

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