The personalization, relevancy, and context that have long guided marketing automation efforts and customer data strategies are now being used across organizations to create better customer experiences. This was one of the prevailing themes at IBM's Smarter Commerce Summit in Tampa in early May.
"Experience pays off. We're seeing it in the real world. Personalization does move the needle on loyalty, for people to stay more and spend more with us," said Bill Turchin, Intercontinental Hotels Group's director of CRM technology, in an interview during the event.
Market-leading companies are "going beyond channel thinking. They're thinking about experiences and all those experiences being shaped by data being put into action," Paul Papas, global leader of the IBM Interactive Experience, told the conference's 4,400 attendees.
IBM has a number of tools that specifically address this trend. Among them are technologies gained through its recent acquisitions of digital experience manager Tealeaf and marketing automation company Silverpop, as well as its new Watson Experience Manager, which the company says will transform customer service with artificial intelligence.
Additionally, at the conference, IBM revealed a portfolio of products under the ExperienceOne label, building on technology from its acquisitions of Demandtec, Xtify, Tealeaf, Silverpop, and others. Technology in the fully integrated portfolio will enable users to focus on customer experience across multiple lines of business.
For the Museum of Modern Art in New York, a better customer experience comes from a unique data source: audio guides. MoMA's redesigned audio guides track how long someone spends at the museum, what artwork he views, and his path through the museum, according to Diana Pan, MoMA's technology director. That data is then available for the visitor to access. MoMA can also look at that visitor's patterns and tailor an offer to him. Or MoMA can alert him to a new exhibit if it sees that he came specifically to view works by a particular artist. By creating an engaging in-museum experience through mobile, and then using that data to enrich every channel, MoMA highlights the omnichannel experiences companies can create by focusing on meaningfully engaging with customers.
Other companies need to take this same approach, looking "beyond thinking about digital as something separate," Papas observed. "Digital and physical are merging together."
That rang true to Turchin as well. "The convergence of physical and digital is very real to us in the hotel industry. In a hotel, you can impact the physical experience the same way you would in a digital channel.... With hundreds of millions of guests, it's about how do you use that to do something at the front desk to make people feel special.
"Like a lot of companies, we started by focusing on marketing automation, utilizing IBM Enterprise Marketing Management products. We used that data with a marketing focus," Turchin said.
Now that data is being used to impact the entire customer experience.