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The retail landscape has changed dramatically in recent years with the rise of internet consumerism providing customers with access to more content, buying channels, and brand options than ever before. Customers today are well-informed, highly selective, and expect intuitive, engaging, and personalized experiences when they shop – with consistency across every buying channel they use.

With an overload of buying options available, retailers must provide highly relevant engagements in order to cut through the noise of generic offers and content that bombard customers every day. According to a report by Segment, on average, 71 percent of consumers express some level of frustration when their experience is impersonal, and 61 percent have stopped doing business with a brand because of poor customer experiences according to Accenture.

To survive today’s cutthroat market, retailers must deliver a compelling shopping experience that engages each customer individually from their very first interaction with the brand throughout every interaction, building a sense of loyalty that keeps them coming back.

It’s all about the data

The key to delivering hyper-personalized experiences that customers have come to expect lies in the data. By leveraging aggregate customer data across all channels including transactions, online behaviors, app use, service interactions, and more, retailers can derive valuable insights to gain a 360-degree view of their customers. This data-powered approach lets businesses understand the individual needs and preferences of each customer in order to respond with personalized engagement at every touchpoint. According to Accenture, more than 90 percent of today’s customers report they are more likely to interact with brands that recognize them and provide relevant offers or recommendations.

Leveraging customer data to provide highly intuitive, personal experiences can not only lead to increased promotional effectiveness and higher conversions but also help brands cultivate meaningful, lasting relationships with their customers. Retailers that utilize personalized offerings are converting sales faster than those that don’t – positioning themselves to stand out in a consumer-centered market.

Embracing new ways of business

Customer experiences are the heart of success in business today. Retailers must embrace new ways of doing things, implementing personalization at every touchpoint – from marketing to sales and customer service. By leveraging both personal and behavioral data about their customers, brands can anticipate buyer needs and preferences to deliver tailored engagements and exceptional service across all channels.

Moving from a scattered view of customers to a holistic and data-driven understanding of each individual based on their lifetime value and potential​ is essential to engaging the right customers with the right offers at the right time. By determining how audiences interact with their brand and products, and analyzing interests and behaviors, retailers can prepare to intelligently engage customers even before they interact.

Delivering intuitive experiences at every engagement

The retail environment today consists of much more than just in-store or online purchasing. Customers are shopping on phones, apps, interactive kiosks, and even telling AI assistants to buy something through a voice command without ever touching a device. Customers are not only using more than one channel to complete purchases, they expect the shopping experience to be consistent and personalized from one channel to the next.

By seamlessly connecting online and offline experiences, retailers enable customers to shop how and when they want. A customer might browse a product in-store, then scan it with a branded app, and later pull up the item in their online account and complete the purchase. Retailers can also leverage customer data to customize landing pages and send targeted offers based on a customer’s browsing or purchase history, loyalty rewards, wish lists, and more. For instance, sending personalized retargeting engagement for abandoned items in a customer’s online shopping cart, or texting a customer with an offer based on their location and interests for a store event happening near them. On average, customers spend more with a brand when they’ve had a positive omnichannel experience and are more likely to refer that brand to a friend.

Delivering exceptional, personalized service to drive lifetime value

With a 360-degree customer profile and insights, retailers can empower every employee to provide the highly relevant and personal experiences customers demand across the entire journey. This not only supports intelligent recommendations and cross-sell opportunities for sales associates who have access to a customer’s entire purchase history and preferences, but provides a smoother, fast-tracked purchasing process. Additionally, it enables swift and painless issue resolution for customers when contacting a service rep who is armed with on-demand access to all of their background from the start.

A compelling shopping experience doesn’t stop once a product is purchased; instead, customers should remain engaged by post-purchase services and rewards that build loyalty and inspire them to return to the retailer in the future. The goal in retail is no longer to simply convert a customer in a single transaction – the bigger picture is to secure and increase the customer’s lifetime value. By providing personalized interactions from the very first marketing engagement through to next-best-offer suggestions and loyalty offers, retailers can strengthen customer relationships and secure higher lifetime value customers.

How a customer data platform can help

It’s not possible for retailers to provide the level of personalized service that today’s buyer expects without holistic customer profiles that are enabled by combining both structured (e.g., customer activity, purchase history) and unstructured (e.g., archived email correspondence, online searches) customer data. Yet, when this data is siloed across various systems, it can be difficult or impossible to gain the insights necessary to power exceptional customer experiences.

With an enhanced customer data platform like Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, companies can bring together their customer data from all sources to gain a truly 360-degree view of their customers, unlocking insights that power personalized, authentic engagement at every touchpoint.

Unlike other customer data platforms, Customer Insights is a self-service solution, enabling faster time to initial value with zero to minimal consulting engagement. A wide range of pre-built connectors makes it easy to bring data in from any source, automating standardization and merging of data records with built-in AI to create comprehensive unified customer profiles. Microsoft’s proprietary audience intelligence also adds to data enrichment, delivering more complete customer insights.  With Customer Insights, organizations are able to maintain complete control of their data as it resides in their own tenant and can innovate freely to create custom solutions with full extensibility and compliance.

Learn more about Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, and check back each week for a new installment in our Customer Insights blog series. Next week, we’ll share how financial institutions can leverage Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to help create the modern, personal banking experiences customers expect.

3 ways to learn more about Customer Insights

  1. Watch our webinar— Personalized Experiences with a 360-Degree View of Your Customers—for a closer look at how Customer Insights helps your marketing, sales, and service professionals to tailor digital and one-to-one customer interactions at scale.
  2. Visit the Customer Insights website to explore the features, read customer stories, and view additional resources
  3. Watch Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Head of Product Satish Thomas demonstrate Customer Insights:

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