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What You Should Know About Customer, Digital, and Contextual Experience

Are your customers having a disjointed and disconnected experience when they access your digital assets? Are they clicking endlessly in order to find something relevant? What does having a disjointed experience tell them? This experience tells them your company doesn't know their customer.

Customer experience isn't about how fast your website responds, or if you have a recording, or person answering the phone, it's about how well you know them. It's about their relationship with your company. Do your digital efforts fall in line with each other, and if you interface with them face to face, does the experience all fall into line seamlessly?

As your customers get more tech savvy, they're going to demand that your digital outlets know them. Remember the movie Minority Report? As people walked by ads, the ads knew who they were and provided  Contextual Experiences to those who passed by. The ads knew who they were, could make some assumptions based on their profile, and maybe even past purchases and interactions with the company and present to them something that is relevant to them. This information is presented to them in an easy to consume way. No clicking around someone's website endlessly in order to find what they want. This isn't just movie stuff, this is now. As part of your company's digital strategy you need to know who your customer is, and all your digital outlets from mobile, web, phone, to the teller at the store looking at the screen, all of them should have an integrated profile of your customer.

So how do you apply this digitally? Take for example Google, they have their Google Now app that runs on my iPhone. It knows where I'm at, presents me with the time it would take to get home or go to work based on current traffic, weather, my favorite sports team scores, and so on. It knows me, and where I'm at. It provides me with useful information, that is contextual to when and where I am. That is a frictionless customer experience. It should be the same with your digital customer interactions. 

Look at Amazon.com, who came in at #1 in Forrester's Customer Experience Index, they know the products I look at, what I buy, and present me with products I may like based on my activity. This experience is the same on both their website, and mobile application. I don't have to click around and look for items, I can just go back to doing what I was doing. Granted, if I buy my kids something for their birthday or holiday, it will skew with some of my preferences, but I can alway ignore what they suggest since it doesn't overwhelm my experience on the site.

Another one of my favorite experiences between digital, and brick and mortar is Great Clips. It's where I get my haircut, simply because they have an app on my phone that I can check to see how long the wait is, check-in, and when I sit down they already know how I get my haircut. They know who I am, even though the person cutting my hair doesn't recognize me, but they have the data and provide me with what I expect. So in the Great Clips example, the digital experience is what I have on my phone, but my overall customer experience is when it's all tied together from the phone to when I walk in and sit down for my haircut.

And remember, we're talking about all digital exchanges with you should provide some kind of unified experience for your customers. This includes assets not owned by you, but connected to you like social networking. How do you respond to people who post a tweet about your company? What about your representatives on other social media outlets? Is the messaging the same across them all? Do you have a strategy that provides some direction, and a common goal for all these public facing touch-points? 

Technology isn't slowing down either, companies will be incorporate a slew of location technologies (Indoor Positioning Systems) that will be able to target marketing, and other information to people based on their position within a store, trade show, or any other touchpoint. This is just another step closer to the folks who visualized the technologies in the movie. Companies will need to tie-in their ERPs, social media tracking, web analytics, and any other points of data used to describe a customer or segment, and then present something relevant. Technology isn't slowing down, and your company is going to need to address it, it's time to build an API that can talk to all these touch-points, and build a relationship between them all.

Remember the days of going into the mom and pop store, and their selling point was they knew your name. You walked in and they greeted you, knew who you were, and what your regular purchase was. Those days haven't gone away, they're still here, they've just changed.

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