Storefront-customer-engagementRewind several decades to a time when most commerce was limited to local family-owned stores in small communities. The shop owner knew each customer personally and knew the goods and services their customers wanted. Every interaction was personalized and tailored. Then mass commerce evolved to provide economies of scale and accommodate the growing population. Businesses focused on meeting high volume demands, and the customer experience was homogenized.

Fast forward to today. Digital business is dramatically changing all of this. As technology innovation makes it possible for brands to interact with customers directly and individually, the personalization of the small store experience is meeting the efficiencies and scale of mass commerce. And both customers and businesses want more engagement with each other.
Customers are seeking better customer experiences while businesses are actively looking for ways to gain a competitive edge by delivering great customer journeys. According to Defaqto Research, 55 percent of consumers would pay a little more to shop at a retail store with better customer experience, and the number one driver for company’s IT investments is to improve customer responsiveness.

If both parties are ready and willing to engage in deeper, more meaningful ways, how can they accomplish rich customer engagement across digital channels, devices and apps in today’s always-on digital world? The answer is to implement an identity-centric customer experience strategy.

Identity data enables customer interactions at a variety of touchpoints. It supports seamless login capabilities, personalized transactions, mobile apps, loyalty programs and customer service, to name a few. Yet, businesses are struggling with technology infrastructures that weren’t designed around identity data. This makes it difficult to accommodate today’s accelerated level of personalized customer interactions, particularly at the scale needed for digital engagement.

In addition to limited scale, traditional data management systems capture and store data in silos. The result is businesses can’t deliver seamless customer journeys across multiple channels, apps and devices. While many companies are making strides to enable cohesive customer journeys with centralized data management, many still have a ways to go. According to a poll UnboundID conducted in our recent webinar with 451 Research, 18 percent of respondents reported having a largely siloed approach while 36 percent of respondents recognize that they need to improve and have assigned teams to drive better cross channel customer engagement.

An identity-centric approach to customer engagement breaks down silos because data is associated with the customer’s identity profile, not the application or channel. Brands can then leverage a common customer profile at every touchpoint.

Another benefit of identity-centric customer engagement is the ability to accommodate customer choice and preference. In the webinar poll, 35 percent of respondents want to improve personalization by inferring customer preferences based on things like website traffic patterns and previous purchase history. However, far more valuable than inferred preferences is explicit preferences. Businesses that enable customers to share exactly how they want to be communicated with and what topics, products and services they are interested in can deliver relevant experiences every time.

As digital business fully brings the customer back into the commerce equation, new possibilities for engagement are unfolding every day. Internet of Things, interactive shopping, self-service business models and mobile apps will continue to transform how customers engage with businesses. The companies that place customer identity and preference management at the center of their strategy will be able to quickly respond to new opportunities and increase their competitive edge.

Watch the on-demand webinar featuring guest speaker Sheryl Kingstone, Research Analyst at 451 Research to learn more!