Within retail and e-commerce, there are multiple systems and technologies that are used to manage data, drive and track inventory, manage financial transactions, and promote sales and marketing with customers. In a mature ecosystem, these are all part of the enterprise resource planning fabric. If your company is talking about how to increase sales, customer loyalty should be part of the discussion. If you don’t have a mature platform in place, consider a phased approach to realizing a mature loyalty program.
There are three specific operational pieces that are key to establishing and driving customer loyalty. These include a customer data platform (CDP) or customer relationship management (CRM) solution, a customer experience management program (CXM), and an overall Loyalty Framework and Strategy.
Customer Data Platform (CDP)
CDP’s collect user data from multiple streams or channels and then organize that data in a meaningful way around user profiles, such that multiple systems across the enterprise can then consume and act on that data, from CX insights to marketing campaigns, and from multi-channel customer support to loyalty fabric. The user profiles range from repeat anonymous profiles to well-known authenticated user profiles. The levels and types of data range from unique customer profile data like name and address, descriptive data like personal and professional interests, behavioral data like shopping activities and patterns, and related qualitative data such as personal feedback and preferences. CRM technologies are focused more on known customer entities and business prospect conversion, but also provide an ecosystem that enables the business to track customer’s movements, preferences, and related behavior.
Customer Experience Management (CXM)
CXM is a more subjective suite of solutions and technologies. At its core this is the practice of utilizing data and intelligence to observe and predict your customer’s behavior and respond with what they want and when they want it. This is extremely difficult and it’s hard to build proper solutions in this space due to the predictive intelligence aspect. CXM can start out simply as a customer support management strategy, sharing customer data across multiple channels to provide better customer support. But in a mature digital enterprise this will be a more pervasive solution acting on the CDP to provide a cutting-edge intelligence engine that is needed for driving great customer experiences and managing loyalty strategy and operational processes.
Customer Loyalty Framework and Strategy
Loyalty solutions are based on data and technology solutions that leverage CDP data and the unique customer signals and activities to communicate with and reward customers at key pinnacles or valleys of opportunity. Common approaches might use gamification techniques, social media, pay-to-play campaigns, and other multi-channel engagements. There are a few offerings out there that promise customer-loyalty-as-a-service, but many companies may be better off formulating their own solutions tailored to their business needs.
Whatever the goals and level of maturity of your customer loyalty program, the technology is what brings it all together. Taking a phased approach to realizing a mature loyalty program will help you build the right solution without having to commit to a single big investment all at once. With mature technologies in place, you’ll know when and where to add value, cross-promote, and pleasantly surprise your customers for years to come.
As I continue to work with clients in the digital space, these topics continue to be core to many of the strategic decisions leaders are facing today. If your company is looking for help or guidance in e-commerce and loyalty, AIM can help.
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