Building a Bridge Between Customer Needs and Customer Experience

Kailey Raymond on July 28th 2022

Good Data, Better Marketing |  Episode 05

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In this episode, Liz Miller, VP and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research discusses best practices for engaging with customers, what ‘good data’ means, and current trends in marketing and customer engagement. 

Guest Bio

Liz Miller is Vice President and Principal Analyst at Constellation focused on the org-wide team sport known as customer experience. While covering all core pillars of CX, Miller spends time zeroing in on the business demands of today's Chief Marketing Officer, the evolution of customer engagement and the rising requirement for a new security posture that accounts for the threat to brand trust.  A 28-year marketing veteran, Miller offers strategic guidance on the leadership, business transformation and technology requirements to deliver on today’s CX strategies. She has worked with global marketing organizations on transforming everything from business models to messaging in order to stay competitive in the shifting digital landscape. She will examine the key trends modern CMOs face, ranging from the realities of engagement in the trust economy to how marketing has become enterprise security’s greatest threat and critical champion.

Prior to joining Constellation, Liz oversaw research, programs and content for the Chief Marketing Officer Council, developing thought leadership agendas for CMOs around the globe. Liz also counseled numerous organizations on core messaging and competitive advantage, working with marketing, advertising and security solutions. Liz is a skilled moderator, facilitator and speaker, engaging C-suite executives in hundreds of industry webcasts and roundtables, keynote presentations and panels around the globe.

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with Liz Miller, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research. Liz is an industry veteran with nearly 30 years of experience instructing global marketing organizations on how to deliver the best customer experience. Previously, Liz worked for GlobalFluency, CMO Council, and Jan Marini Skin Research.

In this episode, Liz discusses the evolution of the CDP, what real-time actually means to customers, and how sales training at The Gap made her a better marketer.

Key Takeaways

  • Asking your customer open-ended questions is key when collecting valuable and personalized data

  • We no longer look at customer experience through the lens of our systems, but through the eyes of our customers. They are in charge of what real-time data means to them

  • Composable architecture is fundamental to have headless applications, allowing developers to use one tool and institutionalize it across the enterprise 


“Marketing's role is to so deeply understand the market and the customer that we act like this translational bridge between what our customer needs, wants, and expects,or just wants to dream about, aspire to.And we translate their language so that they can discover and understand our products and how great it isand all of those wonderful profitable things. We're here to fundamentally drive durable, profitable relationships with our customers, full stop.” – Liz Miller

Episode Timestamps:

‍*(02:04) - Liz’s background  

‍*(06:29) - How The Gap made Liz a better marketer 

‍*(11:39) - Trends in marketing and customer engagement

‍*(19:03) - Liz explains the difference between CDP and CRM

‍*(33:29) - How Liz defines good data 

‍*(35:48) - An example of another company doing it right with customer engagement (hint: it’s Nespresso)

Read the transcript

Kailey Raymond: If you've worked in retail, you know the value of an open-ended question. The more you get your prospect to talk, the more you're likely to learn. This tactic of asking open-ended questions is a lesson that retailers, researchers, and SAS companies all have in common. And it makes sense – analysis from Gong shows that sales reps that talk less than 50% of the time have higher conversion rates than peers.

Why? Open ended questions lead to rich data and enable you to create a personalized experience where your customer feels valued and heard. In this episode, I sit down with Liz Miller, VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research. 

From training as a retail sales associate to using data to create profiles, Liz opens up her playbook for building meaningful and connected relationships with customers. Liz, thank you so much for being here today. We're so excited to have you on the show today. I always like to start off to learn a little bit more about who you are and how you got to where you are today. So tell me a little bit more about your career journey, Liz.

Liz Miller: Oh, wow. This is, this might go into the bucket on the show of strangest marketing background in humanity. As one does, when one is in college and they dream of what their future is gonna look like, mine included politics. And so I was okay. I was a politics major and took all of my additional coursework and constitutional law because in this twisted brain, that's where I was headed.

Kailey Raymond: Wow. 

Liz Miller: And it wasn't until quite literally the morning of the LSAT, I was like, nah, I'm not gonna go do that. I'm gonna go into this crazy thing called marketing. ‘Cause I took a class in it and ergo, I was ready to go. So I flushed all three years of my college, you know, prep work into weird, unusable knowledge about the constitution.

And then just parlayed that into marketing and decided not only was I gonna go into marketing, I was gonna go into sports marketing, ‘cause that's super easy to get into, especially in a teeny tiny market, like the city of Los Angeles. But I did it and I spent the first 10 years of my marketing career working in professional sports. I worked for a professional soccer league way before soccer was cool. It was the Continental Indoor Soccer League. It was great – we had a blast. And then I worked for the great Western forum in the Los Angeles Lakers organization for their boxing division. Dr. Jerry Buss was a big boxing fan, and so I ran some communications and marketing there and, and had an absolute blast doing it. Then all of a sudden, right around that 1999/2000 mark, there was this little thing that was rumored to get really big someday. And it was called the internet. 

Kailey Raymond: You heard of it? 

Liz Miller: Yeah, it was like one of those things and like people were getting jobs in. So I moved from Los Angeles up to Silicon Valley just in time to watch the first internet bubble explode, spent a year of my life in the least sexy, least glamorous role ever in humanity, that being transitioning people from traditional databases into the new world then, which was called CRM. So I would help organizations move from SFA solutions and, and I'm talking things like GoldMine and Act! like you had a Rolodex. How did you wanna get into CRM? 

Kailey Raymond:Wow. 

Liz Miller: So I did all of the marketing automation back then, which was like, three drip campaigns and a stop sign. 

Kailey Raymond: That's amazing though.

Liz Miller: But it was a year of my life I don't get back. It's a year of my career that's gone. And so then, you know, as one does from professional sports into SFA to CRM consulting, you then naturally transition into running marketing and communications for a luxury professional skincare company. 

Kailey Raymond: That was what I was gonna say next.

Liz Miller: It totally makes sense, to just kinda jump right into it. And so I think the theme of my career is to keep toggling between B2B and B2C. It's like every other one. And after skincare, I then worked and ran an organization called the Chief Marketing Officer Council – the CMO Council – and had a blast doing it.

And I got to spend 15 years really deeply understanding the role of the CMO while also being one. So I was this functional marketer who was also developing thought leadership and developing research directly from CMOs at a time when CMOs were simply not ubiquitous, when there wasn't a CMO on every corner.

It was really a branding centric role. And so I've really had a front row seat to the evolution of that path and the evolution of marketing. And that’s what brought me to being an analyst here at Constellation Research. 

Kailey Raymond: Wow. That is so fascinating. I have a million questions, but the first one is, do you ever use any of the things you've learned in law school?

Liz Miller: I do. 

Kailey Raymond: Practical background always helps out.

Liz Miller: Practical background absolutely helps out. I think in research, you definitely get a very different sense of research. You also get a very different definition of what articulating your point means. So, you know how you articulate an argument and how you listen before you articulate an argument was probably one of the first things I learned. But I'll tell ya, and this will come outta left field as a marketer. I can honestly look back, gosh, it's now almost been 30 years. The best training I ever got to actually be a marketer? Sales training at The Gap. 

Kailey Raymond: Tell me more about that. What did you learn? 

Liz Miller: Open ended questions. You learn how to talk to a customer. You learn how to listen to a customer and immediately pull together what that customer wants to buy.

So in Gap sales training, on literally your very first day, you get stuck by the door. It's called the greeter. Anyone who's worked in retail, you know, this loathsome position. You are that person that stands there in the front of the store and your function is two things: you wanna welcome your customer and you wanna make sure no one's shoplifting. Those are the two things that you're there for. 

Kailey Raymond: Dual purpose, dual purpose.

Liz Miller:  Like that's your purpose, but at The Gap, they teach you that you don't just say hi. “Hey, you know, what are you looking for?” “Hey, are you looking for something?” If you ask a question where the only answer is yes or no, you're going to get a customer that walks by you and is like, “Nope.” “Can I help you find something today” is the one question people usually ask as a greeter. Well, the customer's gonna be like, “no”, and then walk right by you. 

But if you start to ask questions like, “Hey, what are you looking for today?” They have to answer something other than yes or no. Or like, “what can I help you find?” “What outfit can I help get for you?” So it forced me from a very early start to think of questions differently and to think about that very first question that you ask a customer differently, and then how you build that relationship and how you build that rapport.

And it's been interesting, even with the rise of digital, I find, almost daily, I have to step back and think to myself, if I was at the very front of the store, The Gap, did someone just walk by me? Or was I at the fitting room saying, “you know, those pants are gonna look great with a belt. I got you one. Try it on” as opposed to “did you want a belt with that?” Totally different dynamics. 

Kailey Raymond: So, I was famously a hostess. My boss used to like to call me an “ambassador of first impressions,” which I really think is an upgrade from the title hostess. He should be in marketing for sure. But at the end of the day, it's exactly that. 

Customer service roles and being on the floor of retail will teach you so much. But mostly it’ll teach you, you're exactly right, to actually listen. But I love the idea of that open-ended question. And I think that the fact that you took that away and still think about it today is more than a lot of people can say. 

Liz Miller: It haunts me. I'm not gonna lie. It haunts me because you know the look in that face. And you've made that face. I've made that face. When there is that poor person with the perfume bottle, saying “Have you tried obsession?” and they're running after you and you're like, “oh my God, ah!” I always think of that person, and then I think of what we're doing in marketing. A vast amount of what we do on a daily basis in that old school vision of spray and pray, I'm gonna send as many emails as I possibly can because numbers matter. If I knock on enough doors, one's bound to open. 

That theory of marketing is essentially that lady standing in front of the department store with her bottle of obsession, trying to spray everybody. Right? “Can I spray you with this awful smelling thing that you do not want to have on your body?” And you're like, “no, I don't.” As opposed to that beautiful Jo Malone, “where do you wanna explore? What do you like? Do you like lemons? Do you like beachy waves?” There, you’re asking the customer to come in and co-create an experience and say, “oh my gosh, I do love the beach. I would love to smell like my beach house.” When do you ever think that you wanna smell like a beach house? You never think of that until there's this! 

Kailey Raymond: Until you're there and then you're like, oh wow. Yes.

Liz Miller: Exactly. So as a marketer, I do tend to think of those two things a lot. I tend to think, “am I asking an open ended question that starts a conversation? Or am I spraying obsession on this poor person?” 

Kailey Raymond: That is perfect. I think it's really interesting too, because we often talk about this. A couple people in this show have really talked about the importance of in-person relationships and better quality information you can really gain from somebody in a branch of a bank or in a store or something. But you're exactly right. If you're not asking those questions to that person, and you're asking yes and no questions, you're also not getting good data. That's really fascinating.

What I wanna know about your career as well is that you kind of started., in a lot of ways, the modern CRM, like you saw a lot of shifts coming over. I want to learn a little bit more about some of the other trends that you're seeing you've, you know, been in the industry for a really long time.

You've kind of seen things come and go started. Of course, you know, a little bit on the brand side, moving into data, a couple of different industries, B to B, B TOC. And you speak to CMOs and marketers every single day. So what are some of those trends that you're seeing as it relates to marketing as a whole and maybe even customer engagement?

Liz Miller: There are two big things that I consistently see. One is - and this is great news for CMOs - we've been on this weird apology tour for the last 15 years or so. And CMOs know what I'm talking about when I say, “Hey, how's your apology tour going?” And it goes a little something like this: you get called to the CEO, to the board, to that all hands C-suite meeting. 

And the presentation is like, “We've done all this great work. We've done all this great engagement. Our CSAT scores are up. Our engagement scores are up. Like we are doing great. We are engaging with our customers like never before.” And then, “I'm so sorry that I spent all this money and I'm so sorry that we had to hire all these people.” And we make this pivot and it's this really weird posture that marketing has been put into.

And it's largely a self-inflicted wound because as the wild west of digital grew up, we were creating these metrics and measures for viability and success as we were learning and growing. And the easiest place to start were vanity metrics. We were literally inventing the reason why you should care about a like. But now, we look back on it and we're like, “let's be more strategic.” How do likes lead to growth? We've gotten more sophisticated with how digital can empower us to measure our impact on the business and really tied back what marketing's true role is for the business. And if we break down marketing as a function, it's pretty easy to define what we do. 

We are the team that empowers and drives growth because we are the team that takes the needs, wants, and voice of the customer and translates that into the business, not vice versa. So we know what our business is. We know what our products are. Marketing's role, as opposed to product, who's like, “no, we've built this great product, let us tell you about it.” Marketing's role is to so deeply understand the market and the customer that we act like a translational bridge between what our customer needs, wants, and expects, or just wants to dream about and aspire to. And we translate their language so that they can discover and understand our products and how great it is and all of those wonderful profitable things.

We're here to fundamentally drive durable, profitable relationships with our customers – full stop. And we do that through a lot of different tools: through brand, through engagement, through direct, through digital, through in person. The toolkit is growing exponentially, but fundamentally, our job is still to be that team that's like, “I know what the customer wants before they want it and need it and love it, and now I'm gonna translate their mindset, their goals, their intentions, their actions into how we draw these durable, profitable relationships with our customers.” 

Kailey Raymond: I love this definition. I'm really curious to hear your take on chief customer officers being this new part of the C-suite. “We’re customer obsessed” is certainly a phrase that I hear all the time. I feel like the product teams always wanna speak to the customers to make sure they are building the right products, so where does marketing begin and end? What's your take on this chief customer officer? Tell me a little bit more about that.

Liz Miller: I, like every marketer out there, love a good rebrand. I do. I think that the role of the chief customer officer is a great one. I absolutely do. I think that a lot of successful chief customer officers that I have seen are really those that are striving to resolve ownership issues, as opposed to, say, a customer experience. And that's where I see that really seasoned chief customer officer come in. These are likely people who have spent time in marketing. These are likely people who have spent deep time in customer service.

This amazing world we call customer experience is really driven by the three horse-women of the apocalypse, right? It's sales, marketing, and service. And we are riding big horses. We are going for it. And I think where the dawn of the chief customer officer has come from has been those people who have served in some part in all three of those facets of customer experience and they understand that it's not about owning the delivery of customer experience because quite frankly, that's an enterprise wide team sport. Everyone participates. It's like the ultimate ASO goal. Everyone gets a medal because everyone has to be part of that strategy and moving that forward. Where the chief customer officer comes into play is really taking that responsibility for and of the customer. 

Does the contact center have the tools? Are we empowering our employees to actually proactively address issues that an owner, a customer, a prospect might see and experience? This is a very proactive and reactive role. You have to be able to react to customer issues. You have to be able to be proactive to customer issues. But it is all about servicing the need of that individual customer so that they can have these personalized, robust, wonderful experiences. The CMO is really gonna be in lockstep with that chief customer officer. There should not be any competition – and that's up to the CEO. 

The CEO needs to sit down and say, “Okay, Chief Customer Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, you’re driving growth. You're sustaining it. How do we make sure that these things are all coming together?” And that's where I really see that kind of start-stop, that handoff happening, is the chief marketing officer is really driving that growth strategy.

How are we not only driving growth with existing customers? How are we keeping that up so the capacity for upsell and cross sell across the enterprise working? That means, “Hey, chief customer officer, do your teams have the data they need so they can make those intelligent choices for what comes next?”

But it's also about identifying new markets, understanding where new business opportunities might lie. It also involves new business models. Chief Marketing Officers can spot where those new business models are. They can say “hey, we should have a subscription.” 10 years ago, no one would've been like, everyone wants a subscription to toilet paper.

Kailey Raymond: And now you're like, obviously we need to SaaS model for that.

Liz Miller: Right. Clearly, the toilet paper should just come to my door, right? The CMO can spot that and then work with the chief customer officer, the chief digital officer, the chief security officer, and bring everybody into that mix to make sure that the identification of growth can then be partnered with those responsible for the sustainability of growth.

I think that's where that handoff comes in. 

Kailey Raymond: That’s really interesting. And I love a lot about what you're saying in terms of how it's operational. There are all these different teams that are coming together. There's a lot of data across all these different teams. There's a lot of competing priorities, especially across an enterprise.

And so all of these things can be challenges to really getting it right on the customer engagement journey. There's acronym soup kind of being thrown around these days between like CRM, CEP, CDP, all these different terms.

Liz Miller: CDP, CRM – we love a good soup. 

Kailey Raymond: Totally. And I would love for you to help me untangle that right now. Can you help me understand a little bit more about how you might define a CEP, what teams are using these? What's the difference between that and a CRM?

Liz Miller: I love this question. I feel like you've just been invited to my TED Talk. Here we go. So CDP, fundamentally, by the words that are included in its name, is a customer data platform. Point one: nowhere does it say that it's a marketing customer data platform. So CDPs grew out of a marketing need to really be able to wrangle all of the complexity and all of the complex disparate data that is related to our customer. We used to call it dark data. We used to even really get, we used to get really scary with it and be like “marketing needs to harness dirty data.” That one was my favorite. We branded data in a way that it was scary. It was dark, it was dirty, and no one should touch it.

Part of the problem is data is not inherently neat. It doesn't necessarily fit to norms as it gets more complex. When you start to consider things like voice as data, how do you take someone's voice, the actual words they are saying in an audio recording, and consider that data?

Well, people had to figure that out. We had to figure out how you fundamentally turned that into zeros and ones that manifest as the customer within your organization. So when marketing was really struggling, what we were struggling with was the structure of CRM. And we were trying to make CRM  do the job we wanted it to do as opposed to the job that it's supposed to do, which is serve as that transactional record that starts to institutionalize and starts to bring visibility into a customer’s or an account’s transactional relationship with the organization.

It is really meant to be a sales effectiveness performance tool that looks at the relationship that a customer has across the enterprise. How many times do we touch this person? How many times have we been pelting this person with phone calls? What is impacting the transactional path for that customer? That's CRM and it's highly effective. It's great for sellers. It's great for marketers. Customers want you to know what they bought last. They want you to have that information. It's not always a great marketing tool because marketing data from social is really hard to fit into that form field that's like tab number seven, 19 rows down.

So that's where CDP came from. Thankfully it's not where CDP has stayed. CDP has really evolved. And I can't say this enough, CDP cannot be and should not be a marketing toy for marketing things. It should be a repository for customer data that can then be sliced, parsed, analyzed, segmented, available for any part of the front line that delivers customer experience.

They're not gonna all get the same data. They're not even all gonna get the same result. They're not even gonna get all the same segment, but if customer service needs to do an engagement campaign, they should be pulling from that CDP ‘cause it's the customer's data. And we have to have that centralized.

It's the ultimate picture of the customer and not just the transaction. So I think that as we've evolved, that’s where I'm really seeing organizations win is when the CDP can sit as that beating heart of personalized engagement. And how do we actually connect with, engage with, communicate with the customer and the marketplace. CRM then gets to regain that really powerful posture of transactional view.

We can really start to bring that CRM data in, it gets really refined and focused on that dynamic between, between the seller and the buyer and that buyer's organization. And we stop trying to make that the Swiss army knife of engagement, and we put the two things side by side. Is one more important than the other? Arguably, no. 

But do we need to have a clear definition of what CRM is going to accomplish for our organization and what CDP is going to accomplish? Absolutely. Do those two things need to be connected? 100%, but I think that people are looking at acronym soup, and they're saying, I think I need one of those three letter thingies (sometimes even four letters if you're talking about things like CIAM and customer identity), because I fundamentally know that the machine I’m trying to automate, the machine that's going to help my customer receive the experiences and engagements that I intend for them to have access to, it’s not working. Something's broken, there's a gap, and everyone wants to fit CDP in to fit that and fill that gap, and sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not. 

Kailey Raymond: That's interesting. I really like that breakdown, especially because it seems like there's a couple of different teams that are benefiting a little bit more than others from these different tools. And fundamentally, one of the things you're mentioning is CRM sales – all day, every day, of course, marketers use that.

CDP is a lot of teams – data, product analytics, marketing, absolutely. And what you keep really bringing this down to is real time and personal. And so I wanna dig in a little bit here – what are some new customer behaviors that you’ve been seeing in the past couple of years? How have you seen some of these things transform? I keep hearing personalization. We talk about it all the time here at Segment, but, as an analyst, what are you hearing from your customers as it relates to what's new for them?

Liz Miller: You know, it's interesting because I think that the big trend that we're seeing now is that in the early days, let's call it customer experience, the beta edition, we marketers, engagement professionals, us within the enterprise, defined what personalization was and what real time was.

And if we're being honest, real time translated into the time it took for our systems to align, for our data to align, and for us to be able to get something from here to there. I remember speaking to a CMO of a snack brand one time about two years ago and, and I said “don't you wanna engage with your customers in real time?”

He's like “what's real time? Real time can be three months ‘cause that's how long it takes for me to get the data from the stores and from our retailers. To get all of the insights from our digital team to get our CIO and our data scientists in line to understand what they're gonna ingest, crunch it, get the deck on it, we present it at our quarterly meeting and then we're like, okay, activations.” 

That's a three month timeline that defines real time because that's how long it takes someone to actually clean the Excel spreadsheet. That's the reality for some organizations. But I think that the trend that's really interesting that's happening now is that the customer is defining what real time means for them.

And they're defining what personalization means for them. And it's different for every person in every segment and every different group and every different situation. ‘Cause the difference is now context through the vision of the customer, as opposed to all of the CX delivery personalization real time, you name it through the lens of our systems.

And that's how we used to define it. We used to define it through our systems and now our customers are defining it through their context. So it's shifting that contextual lens to what our customer wants. Our customer might think that real time is being able to walk up to an ATM or being able to just pay with their phone.

That's real time for them. They don't need to have 19 different things that follow up with that and then are then saying, “oh, so I see you just bought something. You were just at our bank, you just walked to the ATM. Hey, did you like the ATM? What do you think about our ATM?” It's creepy, it's obnoxious.

And it's not what they've defined as real time or personalized. What they define as personalized is that email at the end of the day, that says, “Hey, thanks for stopping by a branch. Anything we could have done differently?” And if they then choose to respond to that, if they then choose to pick up that conversation, they will. There are systems and solutions now that have AI that can highlight points of friction that can give that next best answer. That can start to analyze data that's even within our CDPs that say, “listen, this customer segment typically enjoys a follow up email. In fact, they open it 80% of the time when that email is sent within 24 hours. You should probably listen to it and send an email within the next 24 hours.” There are tools and there are solutions out there that are giving us this really rich insight into how our customers want to be engaged with and give us the capacity to actually automate that and automate some of that delivery.

So I think it's about really changing how we ask questions and fundamentally changing how we interrogate our data so that we aren't asking things like, “what time should I send my email?” Or “When's everyone's birthday?”

Kailey Raymond: I love that your dentist sends you a birthday gift and you're like… did anybody need that?

Liz Miller: I'm just gonna say this right now, and my Twitter handle is @LizKMiller, so y'all can send me all of “I love the birthday email” hate tweets, DMS, all that you want, but I'm gonna say it anyway. The birthday email is the least personalized campaign you could ever send. Everyone has a birthday. We get it. How many of you get a great deal to spend more of your hard earned money, or even some of that money you got from Grandma on your birthday at a brand you haven't shopped at in three years, but the email says, “it's your birthday, and we can't wait to celebrate with you. Your gift is 10% off.” And they send it to you on January 1st, every year.

How many people have a January 1st birthday? How many people are listed as a January 1st birthday on a database, because that's the default when you didn't put in your date of birth. You're a new year's baby, and now I'm gonna give you the present of checking out my shop.

It's like the most self-serving, least personal email anyone can send. Yet, it's like the number one thing that comes out of the box and it drives me crazy. You know what I'd rather get? I'd rather get a half birthday email, like, “Oh my God, we're gonna celebrate your half birthday!” 

Kailey Raymond: It's so specific, and you never thought that anybody would be so specific. 

Liz Miller: If someone sends me a half birthday email and then doesn't send me 10%, but sends me $10 to spend…  Don't send me a percent off. Send me real dollars. And then I'm gonna be like, “Oh, my God, I do deserve a new pair of shoes on my half birthday. ‘Cause I'm fabulous.” 

Kailey Raymond: ‘Cause that's just funny. That's good.

Liz Miller: Really get personal – send someone an anniversary of when they bought their last pair of red shoes. Say “Red looking a little less red cuz it's your two year anniversary of owning those shoes. Get new ones.” Come up with creative ways that you are treating every single customer as a fan, treat every single customer as an advocate, treat every single customer like you actually care about the fact that they're a human being and could live next door to you. 

We tend to look at our systems. We tend to look at our data. We tend to look at automation and we think, ‘Wow, what can this system do? Look at all these cool emails and journeys we can do. This is awesome.’ We have to stop and go. ‘Okay, but does this journey matter to our customer? Is our customer gonna sit back and think of this as more digital exhaust? Did we just unintentionally create a fog of war where we could then blast more things at our customers? Or do we actually create that next step where our customer gets to respond back to us?’ It's the next step in the conversation. 

Kailey Raymond: I love this. We've recently done a bunch of reports, State of Customer Engagement, State of Personalization. There's a lot of data points that are coming through my head right now. And remembering one of them is that maybe 50% of customers were telling us that if they did have a personalized experience, they're more likely to become a repeat customer. And of course, personalization and ROI are going hand in hand.

And then you said something about fatigue. Gen Z and millennials are two times more likely than baby boomers to say that they are being digitally fatigued right now. So you're right – there's something about the fact that every individual is a little bit different. Every generation's a little bit different. Personalization in different industries means different things. And so I wanna see if there is a clean definition of this – how would you define good data to be able to build these segmentations, to be able to build these campaigns and unique activations? What does that look like for you?

Liz Miller: Quite frankly, good data is just a step. Good data is one meaningful thing about the customer and starting from there. I think the challenge we have, and we've had it for a really long time, we've had it before digital, we had it the first time we realized we could personalize print, with that mail-merge field with those carrots.

We got it in our head somehow that we needed to have all the data before we could have good engagement. But if you remember back to that example of someone walking into The Gap, what data do I have about you, Kailey? If you walk into the gap and I've never seen you before I have what I see – she likes black t-shirts. She likes graphic t-shirts. I'm gonna strike up a conversation with you and I'm gonna say, ‘oh my gosh, please tell me you're in the market to get some new graphic t-shirts ‘cause we've got some awesome ones. Can I show you our latest ones that came in?’ But do it in an open-ended question. Don't do it how I did it. But good data for me is that one piece of data that becomes the foundation on which you can start to build and you can start to keep growing and you can start to build these profiles, whether it is a profile of an individual, whether it's a profile of a segment or of a market, what's that first piece of data that's really important to your business?

Don't have it just be a piece of data that's cool. Because cool is in the eye of the beholder. But you work for a business, right? Every marketer, anyone listening here, you likely work for a business, whether it is your own business, whether it is someone else's business and it's okay to want your goal to be good at business, that you want your business to be successful, that you want your business to be profitable.

It's okay to believe that. So how do you find that one piece of data? That you can find universally for all of your customers. That can be the foundation of building that durable, profitable relationship.

Kailey Raymond: So, this is what I wanna learn too – do you think anybody's doing it right? Do you have any examples of folks that you can point to that you think are doing it right as it relates to customer engagement? 

Liz Miller: There are so many brands that are doing cool things on different levels. I mean, I'll give you the example of Nespresso. It’s a brand that I think does it great. They truly know me. They know what coffee I do and do not like. They've even gotten it down to the fact that they understand there are two coffee drinkers in my household, ‘cause we drink very different flavor profiles. So when we go into the store, they have data. They have engagements and experiences that are focused on their employees. So their employees are empowered to serve me a different experience or a different engagement, which I think is always a great example, organizations that are empowering their employees to ask different questions, to ask different questions of different parts of the team where we're looking to intentionally break down our own silos before we start going and pointing the finger of like, ‘you're digital, you're the problem, oh my God, your social team and your email team don't even know who they are.’ I mean, come on. So I think that when we start to talk about that silo busting, what we're really talking about is the inflexibility of systems.

And when you talk about trends, I mean, on the technology side, I think the biggest trend that we're seeing today is this demand for flexibility. In fact, in a study that I'm feilding right now with CMOs, when I ask them about what technologies they're looking at and ask them why they're looking at those technologies, the number one answer that’s coming back is that it has to integrate with things I already have. The age of rip and replace because we can, rip and replace because something's new and it's in the cloud… those days are gone. We need to be able to look at the totality of how we run our business and understand that the composable enterprise has that composable architecture on which everything can sit: your data, your applications, your business applications, your systems and tools. That composable architecture is foundational to the ability and the capacity to have headless applications that can deploy and sit on top of that. It's about being able to give your development team the keys to translate that burning need marketing has simultaneously to the burning need that customer service has and not having to develop 19 tools to satisfy both of those things. Can that developer develop one tool and then institutionalize that and operationalize it across the enterprise? And then can they share it with their friends at other organizations? That might also help, right?

It's about those building blocks and that composability, and that ability to be decoupled from our data, from our presentation layers, from where we're then executing all of those things. Because I think that if there's a trend that is not going to go away it’s that this level of flexibility, this level of independence, it's about the freedom to be able to get our jobs done and be successful. 

It fundamentally boils down to that because when we get our jobs done and we're successful, our customers are reaching the goals that they want. They're having the experiences and engagements that they want. They are co-creating real time, and the definition of it, with us. And that is going to be foundational for whatever comes next, whether it is a new product launch or whether it's the metaverse.

Whatever it's gonna be, we need to be able to flex and weave and have that flexibility and that agility in ways that we couldn't have imagined two years ago. 

Kailey Raymond: I think that what's also really interesting here is that being able to rip things out, test and try, make sure you're always adding the most modern and the best tool for your current situation is super important, but then being able to replay all that data that did exist in other systems and be able to actually leverage that without losing any steps, the agility and flexibility of the modern enterprise… Most of them have really old CRMs. Most of them have really old systems that they're trying to piecemeal and integrate together, which is a huge project for folks to undertake.

And I love that it was one of the big ones, especially, I think that's even forward looking. That's gonna be here for the next six, 12 months, but I do have one last question. If there are any steps or recommendations that you might have for somebody looking to up level their customer engagement strategies, what would those be?

Liz Miller: First and foremost, I would say don't think about the channels. Don't think about the ‘where’ or the ‘how,’ think about the ‘who’ first. It's about the customer that you've never talked to, that you've never met before. That is going to come across your website or come across your mobile app or come across a comment that their friend makes about you.

It's about the ‘who.’ Then layer on the ‘where.’ Then layer on the ‘how.’ Marketing and customer engagement for a really long time has focused on the channels through which we can engage. And then we build the journeys and then we take the segment from the CDP and then we push it into that journey.

We're looking at it backwards, right? We're looking at the, ‘how can I throw all this stuff at you’ as opposed to ‘what do you wanna receive? Who are you, what do we need to send you?’ So I would say, start with the ‘who,’ and then ask yourselves this. And it's a question that no technology can answer for you.

What does your customer buy from you that they can't buy from anywhere else? And it's never your product. They can always buy your product someplace else. And I know everyone wants to argue with me on it. Everyone. But what are they buying from you that they can't buy anywhere else? And can you then ask and interrogate your data differently to then understand what is meaningful or changes or is more immediate is a rapid need, is a distant need.

What translates across those segments? Can you build your segments differently? So that you are truly matching the needs of that segment, the understanding of that segment, with your deeper understanding of what that segment buys from you, that they can't buy anywhere else. Then go out and map your engagement. Then go out and map the channels.

But it's about having those tools and systems that help you answer those two core fundamental questions of the ‘what’ then the ‘who,’ and being able to bridge those together. A lot of times you are gonna be able to find that insight and that intelligence from not only from the output of an AI powered, truly intelligent, easy to use, intuitive CDP, but you're also gonna be learning that through the act of mapping what data's coming into your CDP.

‘Cause you're gonna be able to understand what builds that profile, who your customer is, where it's coming from. It's coming from customer service. It's coming from sales. It's coming from in-store. It's coming from retail. It’s coming from returns. Believe it or not, it's coming from all over the place.

Kailey Raymond: A lot of good data coming from returns.  

Liz Miller: a lot of good data comes from ERP folks, do not discount it. So I think that being able to translate those two things and have the modern tools of systems that get you there and help you map, that's really where I'd start. 

Kailey Raymond: I really love that answer. I think that value drivers and making sure you're remembering that you are always delivering those values back to the customer, that you're putting them at the center of everything you do… Liz, thank you so much for all of your insights today. This has been really fun. 

Liz Miller: This has been a blast. Thanks so much for having me.

The State of Personalization 2022

Our annual look at how attitudes, preferences, and experiences with personalization have evolved over the past year.

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