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Building an Omnichannel Customer Journey

Improving consumer experience through thoughtful data collection

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Nathan Richter
Nathan Richter
VP of Program Strategy and Insights at Dynamic Yield

Nathan Richter is VP of Program Strategy and Insights at Dynamic Yield, an end-to-end personalization platform. Dynamic Yield powers individualized experiences — from product recommendations to one-to-one messaging — for more than 600 million users each month across hundreds of global brands, including Urban Outfitters, MVMT, Sephora, and Kopari.

The interconnected customer journey

Three or four years ago, our understanding of the omnichannel customer journey was in its infancy. eCommerce brands knew it was a valuable concept, but there wasn’t enough data aggregation capability and digital intelligence to allow for the holistic approach that we’re now starting to take.

Brands used to focus only on data from a single channel, like email. With the channel concentration, there was no real understanding of how customer data from other channels could be combined to paint a more complete picture.

These days, there’s so much information that has been collected obtained from a consumer’s interaction with your brand and product across channels. Understanding and compiling this information in a usable way is paramount. It will enable you to better understand your consumers, which in turn allows you to engage with them in more impactful ways.

Using data to personalize an omnichannel journey

The more a brand can understand their customers across different touch points, the easier it is for the brand to curate a customer’s experience. However, it’s difficult to synthesize all of the customer data across different channels within a timeframe that matches a customer’s interaction with your brand.

Traditionally, it can take 48 to 96 hours to process customer data. But an individual customer’s shopping cycle is probably happening within 24 to 36 hours after you first receive the data. So, the challenge lies in Improving consumer experience through thoughtful data collection

In other words: how are you able to quickly and easily recognize what somebody might have done online when they show up in your store six hours later?

As a brand, the goal is to use your understanding of the customer’s interactions across channels, to uniquely deliver the right experience suited to her preferences and needs. This shows her the value she can derive from sharing her data with you.

One way to meet this challenge is to start by meshing two channels: data and experience design. One example could be a native app and the customer’s web behavior. So, if I’m a brand, when a customer goes into my store, how do I incentivize her or offer her some value to open up my app at that moment? Think of all the information you have on a returning customer, sizing, style preferences, etc. We can market the app as an in-store guide that knows your size and style to a) recommend things we think you’ll like based on all your purchases and b) make sure they are available in store.

Following the ‘browsing’ in-store we can deliver a follow-up email, with curated clothing selections of additional items available online (our endless aisle), which might inspire her to buy something online that she couldn’t have purchased in-store. Through this process, you’ve seamlessly collected customer data, which you obtained in real time while the customer was in the store, and inspired a purchase at a later point via another channel

Balancing data collection and consumer privacy

The modern consumer is of two minds: on one hand, they expect you to remember every interaction, whenever and wherever they’ve engaged with you, and to customize their experience accordingly. On the other hand, they’re concerned with privacy. You have to take both of these expectations into consideration when asking for data from your customers.

Consumers are much more willing to give information to brands when they have an understanding of how it’s going to be used and what the benefit is back to them. It’s not so much needing to know that a company is GDPR compliant and not selling private data — of course a consumer wants to know that — but more “what does this mean within our brand-consumer relationship? What does this mean for me as the consumer? Does it mean that you’re going to help me to get a better product recommendation?”

A confident explanation about the value of collecting data is key. For example, say to your customer, “we want to understand your shopping likes and dislikes so we can provide you with better merchandise selection and customer service.” Show them that it’s not so different from a casual conversation with a sales associate in a brick-and-mortar store. We want to convey that we’re using this data to help interact with consumers in a more human way.

Start using your data now

Many brands are still in collection mode when it comes to data gathering. They think, “we can’t start the quality experience design until we have that one more piece of data,” or “well, we haven’t tethered every single channel together so we shouldn’t start yet.” There’s a real hesitation to use the data they do have because they don’t know how to use it “perfectly.”

I can’t overstate this enough: no matter the maturity level, every brand has an opportunity to do more with their data. You don’t need to have the whole thing figured out: in fact, there’s no way to have the whole thing figured out. It’s good to have an idea in your mind of the “perfect” way to implement data to influence your customer journey, but it’s essential to get started, no matter how far you are from your idea of perfection.

Start using whatever data you do have, then collect customer feedback to see if you’re using it effectively. Ask them, “Is this something that’s helpful to you or not?” Then, ask yourself, “Does this drive more business value or not?” That feedback is ultimately what’s going to help the customer and then naturally help the business.

Conclusion

  • Don’t silo your data –  You need an aggregated view to provide the best possible experience.
  • Be smart about data collection – Transparency is key when explaining to your customers why you want information from them. Be straightforward, and they’ll be more willing to share.
  • Use the data you have – There’s no perfect data aggregation model and implementation plan. Don’t let your data go underutilized — just get started.
  • Create experiences of value – Use the insights to deliver relevant and valuable experiences for your customer.

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