How to Upgrade Stale Customer Experiences

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Customer experience and employee experience live in two different acronyms, CX and EX. That’s a problem. It means your organization is set up to serve two different initiatives without connecting the dots between the two. A recent Forrester survey report found that companies that provide connected experiences between CX and EX report dramatic benefits around innovation, cost reduction, revenue growth, customer experience and digital transformation.

Connected experiences are tailored to the user’s context and intent to provide customers, support agents and employees with the right products, content and information to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction (CSAT). The sharing of insights across the enterprise creates happier employees, which creates more loyal shoppers, increased revenue and reduced employee turnover.

Here are five capabilities organizations should invest in to create connected experiences for their shoppers and employees.

1. Understand shopper intent. Forrester reported that more than 97% of organizations have challenges understanding a customer’s intent. Profile information and third-party data can be useful, but it can’t capture a shopper’s intent in the moment. For example, my customer profile at Petco says I have a 15-pound Yorkie, but it doesn’t know his dietary restrictions. Or maybe I just rescued a brother for him, and my signals in the moment are quite different from my profile data. When a brand understands a shopper’s intent, they can proactively surface the best products and content to that customer despite it being different from their historical data.


2. Capture shopper signals. Retailers can collect first-party data, or signals, to understand customer behavior and the intent of those actions. Signals indicate preferences, where shoppers are in their shopping journey and the context of the content they browse. Retailers can take implicit signals like clicks, page views, conversions and returns to predict shopper intent and personalize the experience in real time. This reduces friction and frustration points for shoppers. Insights from signals can help brands create the connective tissue between all of their channels to deliver the most relevant experience, from research to purchase to support and back.

3. Connect every channel. Many brands prioritize cross-channel personalization, but according to Forrester less than half of organizations strongly agree that they provide personalized experiences across channels. Only 33% say those experiences are relevant and connected. Your shopper doesn’t think about “omnichannel” when they’re switching between social to website to email to store. Invest in connecting all of the signals across every digital and analog touch point to tailor every interaction, whether it’s research, support, purchasing or discovery, based on your shopper’s most recent behaviors and interests.

4. Optimize the experience in real time. In order to make the cross-channel dream a reality, brands need to pass data quickly between channels. If data can move quickly, the value of customer insights compounds exponentially across the organization. Merchandisers have access to real-time customer data so they can immediately optimize the customer experience. Employees make more educated choices without waiting for data science teams to pull and analyze data. Support agents have context to customer sentiment and can be one step ahead of the game. And of course customers win because they get what they’re looking for no matter what channel they’re on.

5. Let machine learning do the heavy lifting. The four key capabilities listed above rely on powerful machine learning. Machine learning allows brands to constantly adapt and provide the best connected experience, regardless of channel and without the grunt work for employees. Semantic vector search is one example of a deep learning technology that connects shopper goals and the digital experience. One of the top five retailers deployed semantic vector search and decreased null search results by a whopping 91% compared to the previous year — which translates into hundreds of millions in sales for the company. By reducing manual curation and optimizing online experiences using machine learning, employees can focus on more strategic efforts while shoppers seamlessly add products to their cart. 

Run the Five Capabilities in Concert

As standalones, these capabilities are all worthy initiatives. But to create truly connected experiences, all five must be deployed in concert. It requires collaboration across teams, robust technology and a new approach to the two acronyms, CX and EX. Connect the dots between every customer interaction and every employee decision to create value across every experience.

Garrett Schwegler is the Program Manager for Digital Commerce at Lucidworks, a leader in AI-powered search. Over the years he’s led multiple teams through holiday preparedness initiatives for both ecommerce and omnichannel strategies. Schwegler has also worked as a strategic consultant with Global 2000 ecommerce companies to improve product discovery and develop business strategy. In his current role he leads the Lucidworks Digital Commerce team’s initiatives to power a connected customer experience for some of the world’s biggest ecommerce brands.

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