The Next Generation of Customer Engagement: What to expect

Kelly Kirwan on October 8th 2021

We’re entering a new era for customer engagement. 

This has been clear in the explosion of digital touchpoints we’ve seen in the past year and a half, the surge of customer data that followed, and the new omnichannel mindset customers have adopted. 

But where do we go from here? 

That was the question we set out to answer in our new guide, The Next Generation of Customer Engagement. We wanted to define what exactly is our “new normal,” and understand how businesses can meaningfully engage customers on this new playing field. 

Here’s a preview of what we found. 

The importance of data accessibility 

90% of businesses said that customer insights increased due to greater digital engagement during the pandemic. 

But many businesses are still struggling to make sense of their data, and make it actionable, in large part due to departmental silos and legacy infrastructures. 

The average company manages 162.9TB of data. For enterprises, that number jumps to 347.6 TB. And global data creation is projected to reach more than 180 zettabytes by 2025. (That’s 180 followed by 21 zeros.)

This influx of data can help businesses build a holistic, nuanced understanding of their customers – but only if it’s cleaned, consolidated, and easily shared across teams.

Yet, only 14% of companies say that they’ve made data widely accessible across their organization.

To rectify this, businesses need to prioritize having a scalable data infrastructure that can not only handle increasing volumes of customer data, but make it so any team member can use said data (without relying on developers). 

A focus on first-party data 

From data breaches to the opaque marketplace of third-party data, consumers have become increasingly wary of who’s collecting their information (and how that information is being used). 

As a result, both government regulators and browsers have taken a stronger stance on data privacy, which we’ve seen in initiatives like the GDPR and the phaseout of third-party cookies. 

To adapt to this privacy-first landscape, businesses need to focus on first-party data (which is collected directly by your company). Not only is it important from a legal and ethical standpoint, but first-party data also lends itself to a more transparent relationship with your customers. 

And while some have feared that the end of third-party cookies could lead to a “personalization-privacy paradox,” that’s actually not the case. In fact, 69% of consumers say they appreciate personalization, as long as it’s based on data they’ve shared with a business directly. That is, first-party data. 

The expectation of omnichannel 

Consumers today expect to be able to switch seamlessly between channels when interacting with a business. Or, in other words: they expect an omnichannel experience. 

Ensuring continuity as consumers switch online and offline touchpoints is no easy task. In fact, only 24% of businesses say they’re successfully investing in omnichannel personalization. 

But for 45% of consumers, all it takes is one unpersonalized experience for them to no longer do business with a brand. These are high stakes. 

That’s why customer data platforms have emerged as an essential component for omnichannel engagement, for their ability to consolidate data that’s scattered across different apps and teams, and then send it to any downstream tool for activation. 

In fact, 73% of companies surveyed this year said that a customer data platform will be critical to their customer experience efforts going forward. 

The future of customer engagement

For businesses, survival will always come down to their ability to meaningfully connect with customers. In our latest e-book, The Next Generation of Customer Engagement, we go into more depth into the themes mentioned above, and distill the five leading trends that will define customer relationships in the years to come.

You can read the full guide here.

The State of Personalization

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

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