• January 18, 2022
  • By David Harrelson , vice president of digital customer experience, Capgemini Americas

Real-Time Interaction Management Is Key for Personalization and CX

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It’s nearly 2022, and we’re still talking about personalization. Why? Because there’s a big gap between expectations and reality that businesses need to close.

Sixty percent of B2C customers say personalized retail experiences lead them to make repeat purchases, and 85 percent of business say they’re offering personalization. However, despite the importance of personalization for connecting with customers and earning their loyalty, organizations are still struggling to get it right. While 80 percent of businesses report improvements after starting personalization programs, most organizations aren’t yet seeing all the possible value from these efforts. For example, Forrester forecasts that a lack of buyer insight will lead 75 percent of personalized engagement strategies to fall short of their ROI goals in 2022.

To succeed with the level of personalization that customers expect now and get the best ROI on their personalization technology investments, organizations need a way to translate current customer data into relevant experiences that provide value at each step in the customer journey.

Real-time interaction management (RTIM) offers a way to do this. This enterprise marketing approach draws on real-time customer data across interactions regardless of channel, to deliver the kind of hyperpersonalization that customers increasingly expect, and to do so in a fraction of a second.

Effective Data Management Is the Key to Successful Personalization

Why is effective personalization still such a challenge when so many organizations have been working on it for so long? The sheer volume of data across many channels, stored in many siloed marketing and commerce systems, makes it difficult to surface content that aligns with customers’ needs in the moment. Even in 2019, before the big shift to online buying, 80 percent of U.S. e-commerce shoppers felt comfortable sharing at least some personal data to get personalized shopping experiences in return. Now, because customers spend so much time online, there’s even more data to track and analyze as part of the personalization process.

RTIM systems solve this challenge by unifying the organization’s customer data and applying predictive modeling and AI-driven analytics to generate next best steps across the customer journey. Because of RTIM’s ability to aggregate, analyze, and leverage vast amounts of real-time data for better personalization, half of B2C marketers planned to implement RTIM—or were already in the process—in 2020 and another 16 percent planned to start in 2021, according to Forrester’s 2020 Business Technographics Marketing Survey.

Building an RTIM Solution

The customer data platform (CDP) is the heart of the RTIM program, with APIs bringing in data from other sources across the organization’s marketing and commerce channels. Existing digital asset management and content management platforms can integrate with the CDP but can’t replace it as the core of a successful RTIM solution. With the CDP collecting data from customer interactions, it can compile interaction histories that also include enterprise, unstructured, and big data.

By unifying that data and then analyzing it with third-party AI and machine-learning tools, the RTIM system can predict each customer’s upcoming needs and actions. Those predictive insights allow your marketing teams to build strategies to suggest next-best-step actions and offers for customers at each stage in their journey. Once your data is all accessible, the next step to run and analyze simulations of next-best-action generation through a customer decision hub.

The customer decision hub is a platform that lets your marketing team access all next-best-action options on one dashboard making it easy to select and track those options and automate next best actions across channels, based on historical and real-time customer data. If your simulations uncover any gaps in data coverage or identify steps in the customer journey that are going unaddressed, correct those issues before deploying your RTIM system through the customer decision hub.

Evaluating RTIM Performance

After deployment, it’s important to measure your RTIM KPIs to assess the program’s performance, build on what works well, and adjust areas that need improvement. When you set up your customer decision hub, you should be able to define the goals you want to track and set targets for them. For example, you might choose to measure the total impressions, outbound conversion rate, and decline rate for each of your cross-channel campaigns. Then you can track their performance in the hub dashboard, adjust your strategy, and test your changes for continuous improvement.

Planning RTIM Implementation

As you might expect, a technology solution with this many elements takes time to implement. The exact timeline depends on the organization’s agility, change management resources, and existing technology resources. For example, a nimble company that’s already aggregating customer engagement data in the cloud might go from start to early-stage RTIM rollout in half a year.

On the other hand, enterprises that are still collecting customer data in multiple legacy systems will need to migrate that data to the cloud first, so they can unify all the data from all their channels in a CDP, before they can develop their RTIM program. These organizations may require three to five years to go from cloud migration to full implementation of RTIM.

However, these are the organizations that most need to get started now, or risk falling farther behind their more agile competitors. Any business, whether they’re just getting started or optimizing an existing personalization program, should focus on RTIM to keep up with the new expectations customers have for what brands and retailers deliver.

David Harrelson is vice president of digital customer experience at Capgemini Americas. He has more than 25 years of business development, executive management, and digital consulting experience within high-growth organizations covering a unique mix of software sales, digital strategy, creative design, and digital technology enablement in both domestic and international markets.

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