Effective personalised customer experiences need to be balanced with understanding the customer at an individual level and with real-time customer data, AI and insights

During the SAS and Which-50 webinar, The role of the CMO at the most disruptive moment, a panel of experts discussed the impact the current economic climate is having on marketing leaders and their brands.

In times like this, it’s more important than ever to balance personalisation with empathy, according to Cambell Holt, Chief Customer Officer, Mercer.

Holt said at the moment the underline of personalisation is empathy and those brands that lead with empathy and genuinely address customer needs can strengthen their relationships with their customers.

He said at Mercer, they have spent the past six years investing heavily in their data and inside generation capability.

“By investing in data, we have been able to access key insights about consumer behaviour during the crisis. This has enabled us to respond with highly personalised information and more importantly, customer interventions, that we really believe have added a lot of value to our customers,” he explained.

Holt said the importance of accuracy of an organisation’s data speaks for itself, particularly in times like this, where the decision speed of marketers is critical.

There are three areas where brands can strengthen their relationships with customers during times like this using data according to Justin Theng, Customer Intelligence Lead at SAS Australia and New Zealand.

“Attribution, automation and AI are key to success, says Justin. With attribution, it’s not just what channels are producing the most results, but we need to consider what is the cadence of our messaging, are we being empathetic enough?

“Brands need to consider when is the time to be quiet and what privacy or communication settings can we offer o our customers so that we are genuinely responding to what their needs are.”

Theng said “At the end of the day, it’s not just marketing or brand. We can’t overestimate the role that we play at an emotional human level. Personalised options need to be aligned to brand values and customer values to be successful.

If you approach data, analytics, and customer intelligence from that lens, then you’re looking to find ways to better serve and to better align brand values with customers values.”

Theng noted automation needs to be more than just decisions on when to send emails or SMS. Coming out of this he sees a greater role for personalisation.

“Being more relevant and helpful is not just for the short-term but needs to be part of the long-term strategy,” Theng said.

“AI has sat one step behind and what’s happening now is AI is coming to the forefront,” says Sebastian Pedavoli, co-founder and CEO at Proxima.

Pedavoli said “In a conversational AI sense, AI is the first responder to a brand’s customer.

“The brand voice, the tone, the language and the capabilities that you are communicating as a brand to customers are actually now coming from a conversational AI. That leads into the importance of accurate customer data when a customer first reaches out to you.

AI has the ability behind the scenes to pull out sentiments, and get an understanding about what that customer wants or how they’re engaging, and what they’re actually engaging with.”

Pedavoli said “Brands may capture that data, analyse it, use it and then that data might influence marketing, but that may take a week a month, maybe six months down the track.

What AI is bringing into the business, is allowing data to be analysed in a quarter of a second and it can pull out segments in entities out, for real-time personalisation.

He said what’s happening now with AI, especially with conversational marketing is we are shortening the feedback cycle so that the response is very much in real-time.  It’s a big shift in marketing, it’s the difference between brands sending an offer, minutes after a customer adds a product to their wish list, instead of sending the customer a discount for that wish list product weeks later.

“What we’re seeing in the trends that AI is again redefining the relationship brands have with their customers and the importance of one-to-one personalised communication that a brand can have with a customer,” Pedavoli adds.

From panel discussions, it is clear that in today’s climate there is a need for leaders to balance personalisation, AI and insights combined with emotional intelligence.

To find out more about how you can use personalisation, AI and insights, to create an emotionally balanced CX, register for next webinar as part of this series. Register now.  

About this author

Athina Mallis is the editor of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which SAS is a corporate member. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply. 


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