With customer needs being ever-evolving, businesses need to be adaptable and customer-centric in order to avoid being left behind.

With this in mind, Merkle has launched its 2022 imperatives, focusing on three key ideas that will aid businesses on their journey of customer experience transformation:

  1. the need to expand your vision for customer data,
  2. measurement as a catalyst for change,
  3. and commerce experiences to drive next-generation loyalty.

Let’s look at the three in turn.

1. Expanding the vision for customer data

It’s time to turn away from simply collecting as much customer data as possible as part of a media-led identity-focused strategy. Brands should instead be prioritising depth of knowledge and understanding of customer needs, passions, and motivations.

This approach is vital if experiences are defined as a collection of contextualised moments across marketing, sales, commerce and service. A clear value exchange in these moments is the foundation for a trusting relationship between brand and customer, one in which brands can offer relevant experiences in return for useful customer data.

Getting back to basics in their understanding of data strategy is recognition from brands that the customer journey is in the buyer’s hands. This funnel fluidity of cross-channel and self-service experiences means brands are reevaluating purchase journeys and looking for greater meaning in customer relationships. Data’s role in this respect hasn’t changed – it’s about understanding customers.

Brands should, as ever, ask what data they need for this understanding, how the data can be put to use, and what is involved in its collection, organisation and deployment.

2. Using measurement as a catalyst for change

It can be daunting to know where to start with measurement – poor measurement frameworks can limit leaders’ vision and, by extension, the success of the business. Leaders should focus on ensuring the measurement framework in place aligns with business goals and creating the right customer measures based on what will make a difference. By tracking metrics such as performance, experience, satisfaction, word of mouth, growth, churn, etc., you can meaningfully connect the customer experience to business performance.

Once you have planned a strategy that has a clear and realistic goal, with a mapped link of causes and effects, you must make sure your measurement strategy is aligned across departments. Your customers don’t just engage with the marketing team, their data also exists across sales, commerce, and services, so each department must work together. This might mean realigning data and technology, strategies, and ways of working, but ensures you are all working towards measurement that ultimately grows the business.

Once the strategy is in place, assess how and what you measure as well as the capabilities required to successfully define, develop, and utilise measurements in your business. Assess your benchmarks to track progress against the most valuable comparison points in the market, and your capabilities to measure. Analyse the measurements you already have in place, define your KPIs, and capture details about any data limitations that may prevent progress towards those KPIs.

Finally, no business is successful without evolution. Your strategy should be continuously evaluated to ensure you’re getting the most out of your KPIs. Priorities change, so your strategy should shift to align with the business’ short, medium, and long-term goals. Put roadmaps in place to make sure you can be proactive about implementing proactive measurement practices, to support fast, agile evolution.

3. Delivering commerce experiences to drive next-generation loyalty

Just offering customers convenience will no longer cut it – they now want immersive, entertaining experiences that deliver emotional connections based on shared values. Customers want to be understood. At the very least, you should be offering frictionless interactions and seamlessly aligned channels – and if you aren’t, you’re a generation behind the rest. The next 20 years will see a shift from convenience to relationship building.

Relationships with customers that are meaningful and valuable to both parties will be the factor that makes you stand out from your competitors. When all the world’s a store without a closing time, building a relationship with your customer will help you turn that one-off sale into a lifetime of transactions.

So how do you nurture that relationship? By treating it like a human relationship, offering consistency, communication, creativity, and authenticity.

  • Consistency allows your customer to know what to expect when they engage with your brand and to feel comfortable giving their money to an organization that constantly delivers on their promises.
  • Communication, a two-way dialogue, ensures customers feel they can provide feedback in the knowledge that it will be considered and acted upon.
  • Creativity is one area that can really provide your brand with a unique identity. Surprise and entertain your customers with your creativity, spice things up!
  • Authenticity is a buzzword for a reason. Be clear about what your brand’s values are, communicate them, and align your strategy towards them.

Written by industry experts from the Merkle team with real case study examples, the Merkle 2022 Imperatives highlight the forefront of objectives modern businesses should aim to achieve in order to elevate their customer experiences. Customers now are so different from those even a few years ago, with greater tech literacy, increased demand for interaction, and desire to have a relationship with the brands they buy from.

If you’re looking to get the edge over your competitors by reimagining your approach to data, measurement and loyalty, take a look at Merkle’s Imperatives in more detail.