Remove-BarriersSteve Signoff is the Chief Operating Officer at Tangerine Lab, a consultancy focused on customer experience and brand experience design. Signoff has more than 20 years of experience in telecommunications at One Communications and Sprint. At One Communications, he served as chief sales and marketing officer and he also held a variety of executive leadership positions including VP of Marketing at Sprint.

UnboundID: Recently you wrote about the challenges with omnichannel marketing. The first step is to get rid of data silos. This is no easy task – can you explain the challenges here and what’s needed to do this?

Signoff: It’s not easy. Bringing data into a centralized place where internal and external resources can access it is critical. You can’t skimp on resources to collect and to manage the data. But wherever you go with the technology, it starts with developing a business strategy at the leadership level, which then evolves to a customer experience strategy. It’s also important to avoid simply merging all your data and placing it in a data warehouse. First, find out what are the business questions that you want to answer, and that will point to the data that you need to gather and store. Those questions could be: when does a customer become aware of the brand, and what triggers the target customer to move from consideration to a purchase. Then price sensitivity, quality sensitivity and image sensitivity are what marketers want to understand as relates to the buying trigger. Then the organization needs to look at what data they have or is easily accessible and what data do they still need to collect.

UnboundID: Once you’ve eradicated data silos and have a unified data set, what’s next in terms of delivering that seamless and positive customer experience across all channels?

Signoff: You need the right resources to stay fresh with the customer. Data scientists can help by focusing on what questions we should be answering and is the data on hand relevant. You have to acknowledge that your customer is an omnichannel entity who moves seamlessly between your online and offline channels to research, purchase and be serviced. This journey is not linear and is not consistent from customer to customer. It’s important to understand each individual’s customer journey and use your data to serve their needs when, where and how they expect it. Some may refer to this as omnichannel personalization. Companies also need to deliver recognition and put financial incentive programs in place. Leaders should continuously reinforce the message that customer experience is the foundation. Finally, invest in trust, which involves privacy and security.

UnboundID: Is the IT industry still determining the best way to enable strong security of customer data?

Signoff: There are a lot of technology choices today so the solution probably depends on what you’re trying to solve. It also depends on what systems you currently have in-house for security protection. This could be an economic decision about whether you can upgrade and also whether you’ve got other mitigating factors such as dealing with a patchwork of systems that came out of a merger. The approach is individual for companies but the missing element is how do you convert that technological investment into a trust system for customers. That’s the ingredient which will distinguish companies in the market. Companies are still at a very early stage in doing this. Yet the trust message must be executed on an omnichannel basis.

UnboundID: What are your customers interested in right now when it comes to improving customer experience?

Signoff: Some of our customers are highly advanced in many forms of digital media and technology while other companies have branches in emerging countries where wireless technology is the main factor and it plays a significant role in how customers interact. The companies we work for are diverse but they share a broad-based interest is improving how they interact with their customers. A primary theme is personalization. Customers often want to seek and receive the information that interests them, rather than be the recipient of information pushed to them. For example, an individual may want to get an alert when a particular product or promotion is available. Customers are also interested in identity management and integration, meaning they don’t want to remind a brand who they are at every interaction and they don’t want to provide their data multiple times in a single transaction. They want a company to recall their preferences for products and services. This can happen through explicit articulation of preferences by the customer or implicitly where a company looks at behavior patterns and customizes offerings. Personalization and preferences combined with an orientation allowing customers to pull information instead of being pushed offers is a huge change with enormous implications for data collection and data accessibility. This shift can turn a company upside down in terms of how it manages internal functions and expectations.

Delivering a seamless omnichannel experience depends on customer identity and preference management. Read more about how one company was able to enhance customer experiences in this case study, Convenience Store Retailer: Web Scale Performance Powers Mobile App