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A “Connected Consumer” turns into lifelong customers

What a week it was! I am referring to the last week spent at Sitecore Symposium North America and Annual MVP Summit that took place in Las Vegas. There was plenty to absorb with as much as seven sessions in progress at the same time. Sessions were divided into three different tracks: Product, Business and Developer. Obviously I couldn’t make it to all, but I did attend a good mix of them. All sessions were diverse in terms of subject matter. However, from opening keynote to closing keynote, the emerging theme was clear, and it was the Connected Consumer Experience!
personalizationWell, the concept of the consumer experience is not entirely brand new. At the symposium, stronger emphasis was placed on the term ‘connected’. The digital marketing landscape is continuously shifting as customers are engaging in doing business across several channels – email, website, mobile sites, apps. social media, CRM etc., and it poses at least two immediate questions for any organization that takes their customers seriously.

  1. Are we ready, as an organization, to do business with customers across these diverse channels?
  2. And, if so, do we have the infrastructure and solutions in place that drive for us a single view of our customer across online and offline touch points so that we can offer them a connected and meaningful experience?

Chris Nash and Ron Person, during the business keynote on Day 1, talked about a three-stage maturity model that describes the organization maturity journey:

  1. Attracting visitors by rendering consistent content across channels
  2. Converting them into customers by presenting an experience relevant to their needs
  3. Turning them into an advocate by offering real-time and the most meaningful, intelligence and prediction-based experience.

I was further submersed into the connected consumer philosophy when, in the same week, I was reading my complimentary copy of “Connect- how to use data and experience marketing to create lifetime customers” by Chris Nash, Ron Person and Lars Peterson. It was given to all symposium attendees. It was a nice read. The authors describe optimization as a “low-hanging fruit” of experience marketing, and they recommend working toward quick wins. Also it stages the path for long-term success as insights gained over a period of time can be leveraged in real-time later.
The last point is important. If the information is properly gathered over a variety of channels, then over a period of time it can become knowledge and can be used in real time to transform your customer into a lifelong customer. Last week at a Spanish restaurant while waiting for dinner, I was chatting with Chris Nash from Sitecore, one of the authors of the above book. It was kind of a planned event so I had specified my vegetarian meal preference when I registered for the event on their website 3 days prior, and then Sitecore must have provided this information to the restaurant, mostly by phone. I was expecting salad and grilled vegetables to be served for me but to my surprise, I got vegetable paella and I haven’t had it ever before since it is typically not cooked as a one-person dish. When I asked the manager, “Did you really make vegetarian paella just for me?” his response was, “I want you to experience paella in a Spanish restaurant, yes.” He went the extra mile to offer me a personalized experience relevant to my needs. What impact did it leave on me? I did feel that I am a valued customer, and I am more likely to recommend this restaurant to my friends. It instantly turned me into advocate.
The next and last step in bridging the disconnect is to further optimize the customer experience though advice and recommendations with learning and predictive analysis. At this level, information served to the customer at every touch point is meaningful and relevant. It is not just session, IP address or campaign visit but about considering and treating your customer as human. The more your organization adopts this philosophy, the more it is going to get loyal customers that bring repeat business. The key is experience – a connected consumer experience!
Perficient has been addressing the need for a “Connected Consumer” experience in our consumer markets practice in a variety of ways. Read more:
Download our white paper:  The Retailer’s Guide to the Connected Consumer
Read our Consumer Markets blog post: Trends that are shaping the expectations of the connected consumer

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Parshva Vora

Parshva Vora is a Technical Architect at Perficient since 2009 and has extensive experience building enterprise solutions, portals and software products using Microsoft technologies.

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