The ever new possibilities for digital networking are changing the way we communicate, live and work together. Products and services support us digitally to share or access information. We can bypass communication and information hurdles much faster and almost at any time of the day and get in touch with each other in a variety of ways.

Customer Experience: Making customers happy with simple data

Today, companies can use a variety of channels to support consumers with tailored information in their decision-making process. The main task remains: the right customer approach at the level of his needs.

The use of advertising media on the Internet can make sense, but only through product and purchase-related services that offer the consumer relevant added value and are not lost in the flood of e-mails, newsletters, push notifications or display advertising.

Personalized purchase recommendations, on the other hand, increase the potential for attention if they are used carefully. The more the consumer has the feeling of receiving a recommendation that is tailored to him, the greater the acceptance of it and the more he will deal with the offer.

Nowadays it is important to orchestrate all marketing and sales channels in such a way that a uniform brand experience is created along the entire customer journey and all company solutions from marketing, sales and service act together.

Turn anonymous visitors into loyal customers

The better you know your target group, the more effectively individual offers or interesting advertisements can be displayed. However, in the early attention and consideration phase, this is a major challenge. The visitor doesn't even know the company and it can therefore not access data such as a purchase history.

How can relevant information be displayed if the customer is unknown? Businesses must first find out what customer information they already have. (Partial) information is often already available in a wide variety of systems, such as ERP, CRM or web shops. Combining this disparate data reveals connections that were previously undetected. For example, current visitors behave in a similar way to previous ones. Customer behavior can be predicted (with some inaccuracy).

But usually the first hurdle behind this merging of information is already there, since IT structures in the company have grown historically. ## Breaking down data silos in the company The aim is to combine data from historically grown IT structures with other data in a meaningful way in order to then interpret it from different perspectives. The "breaking up" of data silos must be considered on a technical level and from a business perspective. Data and data sources have different qualities and information content. In this way, one will decide on a case-by-case basis which data sources have the higher relevance and which have priority in the case of duplicate content.

What does this look like in practice with an energy supplier, for example? Energy suppliers define the areas of interest of the target groups according to keywords such as "public transport", "swimming pools", "gas" or "water connection". Additional demographic and geographic information offers the opportunity to further narrow down and provide deeper insights. With the connection to social media channels, comments are filtered out and posts on the topic are analyzed in order to be able to reflect the mood of the authors or to identify cross-selling potential (public transport/swimming pools). Based on such insights, it is possible to display personalized advertising in the social networks.

For this purpose, logics are developed with the help of the aggregated and curated data in order to address customers more specifically and personally. Marketing solutions can support this and take over time-consuming operational activities in an automated and self-learning manner, so that marketing managers can concentrate on the alignment of marketing instruments and channels.

Furthermore, processes can be set up that allow a forecast for the future on the basis of past and present-related data.

Knowing the customer in order to inspire them

As soon as a visitor reaches the company website or web shop, sales and marketing logic should interlock like clockwork. Based on entry pages and behavior, the selection of the displayed products and content can be based on the identified interests and needs of the consumer. Additional real-time geospatial information can further influence and support the appearance and content for the user from the area at the time of the call.

The advice in the web shop, the so-called Guided Selling, can provide much more accurate recommendations based on the consolidated data. The recommendations include the interests and needs of the visitor and have a lasting positive effect on the purchase probability.

Let's assume a consumer is interested in a racing bike but has not yet been able to gain much experience on the subject. As part of guided selling, targeted questions are asked in order to provide the appropriate product recommendations at the end. Based on this information, it will quickly become clear whether the consumer is more interested in a beginner or a professional model and whether he is aware that a racing bike is usually delivered without pedals. The bike can then be largely preconfigured by asking specific questions, so that in the end the customer has a choice between a few – but precisely fitting – alternatives and the beginner doesn’t forget his pedals either. Because they expect to be able to drive off immediately after their purchase and will not think about it during the purchase process. Transparency and control of personal data as the key to a trustworthy customer relationship The merging and enrichment of information must be targeted and customer-centric. Companies have a responsibility to make their customers transparent about the data they collect and to provide an overview of the data collected. It must also be possible to revoke the consent at a later date. Compliance with the GDPR is legally binding and is assumed by the consumer.

In the as part of the "Online Privacy Customization" studyMaik Eisenbeiß and Nico Wiegand explored the idea that companies give users full control over their data the first time they visit their website. The customer decides which data he makes available to shops or social media platforms for personalized advertising. A customer-centric option is, for example, the offered configuration of the cookies by the site visitor. A configuration option between required/functional cookies and marketing cookies ensures customer trust in the provider and allows prospective customers to act in a self-determined manner. In the study mentioned above, it turned out that when personal data is requested transparently, the willingness to release this data is even higher than when there is less transparency for the user. The purchase intention usually increases by 10% and the willingness to visit the online shop again even increases by 16 percent.

After the purchase is before the purchase

The successful sale of a product is not a single action that ends with the receipt of the product. After a purchase, the customer is still in an experience process and the product is in a life cycle. Especially after the purchase, the customer's experience should be further shaped by the company in order to retain him in the long term. This includes after-sales services that start where the customer expects them. Customer-oriented delivery conditions or possible assembly services are sensible. If a defective item needs service, the company can, for example, convince and retain the customer with an uncomplicated returns service.

Just as with the marketing and services before the actual purchase, the basis is that the needs of the customer – and thus relevant customer data – are known and available in a usable form. Only with such data can services be offered as individually and precisely as possible.

Another essential building block in after sales are recommendations for cross-selling products. This is particularly fruitful and exciting if the realities of the customer's life can also be addressed. The racing bike buyer could already be offered suitable pedals when buying the racing bike. Selling additional products in the context of the last purchase is much easier than promoting randomly displayed items. Relocating processes to the cloud – is that necessary?

An architecture in the cloud ensures stability, scalability and takes into account the strict security aspects when it comes to storing customer and transaction data.

To ensure scaling and stability, many manufacturers rely on so-called accelerator solutions, which as standard cover many business cases and business logics in the software core and can be individually adapted or expanded. Such systems already have many standardized interfaces for connecting third-party systems and can be easily updated.

New functionalities and security updates also reduce maintenance costs in the long term and make future migration easier.

If marketing campaigns are designed that produce a high number of visitors, it is possible in the cloud to scale the system in such a way that an increased number of visitors can also be easily managed on the server side.

Agile culture to cope with

Overall, the challenges for companies are great:

  • Break down data silos and bring together a wide variety of data
  • Derive recommendations for action from analyzes and determine missing data to be collected
  • Recognize and comply with legally compliant data mining as a process
  • Provide personalization, relevant customer approach and added value appropriate for channels and customer needs
  • Ideally, being able to predict customer behavior (predictive marketing) in order to make offers to customers before they even feel the need themselves

These diverse topics can only be realized step by step. An agile way of working helps to think in smaller projects with a quick return on investment. Large projects are shared to make them manageable. Existing can be expanded iteratively and improved in a targeted manner.

Each project phase focuses on developing deliverable increments with added value for customers and the company. At the same time, questions are asked at an early stage, thereby revealing opportunities and risks that are directly taken into account as the project progresses. Technical debts, which could take revenge later in the project, are also prevented. Potentials are developed and not overlooked.

Realistic targets, a step-by-step rollout and the associated iterative structure support companies in project planning and implementation. However, the agile approach has another major advantage: it promotes thinking in terms of solutions for business use cases. With the customer-centric approach, it is determined early on what will add value at the end of the sub-projects (or sprints). The focus shifts in favor of business priorities. The right customer experience solution: conclusion

Data competence, digital evolution and optimal shopping experiences often require IT solutions in sales, marketing and service with a long project duration and high costs. You need end-to-end processes and systems to be able to achieve the goals. If the solution is transferred to the productive environment after months or years, customer or market requirements may have changed.

In an agile context, market success and added value are generated more quickly due to the smaller project sizes. The architecture of a selected software solution should be modular and easy to expand.

At the same time, stakeholders and users are on board right from the start and work directly on the success of the project and the company. With the introduction of new systems, the processes and tasks of the employees also change. With smaller and manageable changes, they are involved early on, help shape the process and are not exposed to steep learning curves. This increases productivity, safety and acceptance among employees and contributes directly to the success of all project plans and ultimately also to a large extent to customer satisfaction.