Last month Mcdonald’s announced that it had appointed a global chief customer officer, a newly created role to strengthen the organisation’s ability to anticipate and deliver on customers’ needs. The plan is that the CCO will create a new team that will focus on the end-to-end customer journey bringing a unique brand experience to every touchpoint. Leveraging insights from restaurant operations, customers, and local market leadership it is hoped that Mcdonald’s will be able to scale best practices across the globe.

McDonald’s is not alone. According to Gartner 90 percent of large organisations now have a CCO or a Customer Experience Officer (CXO), whereas seven years ago only 22 of the Fortune 100 companies had a board-level customer experience role.

It is no coincidence that customer experience is rising up the agenda. Ultimately investing in customer experience means structuring the business around the customer, and with the perfect storm of Covid, a greater focus on online privacy and fast-changing consumer habits never has this been more of a priority for businesses. It is therefore unsurprising to read that Manu Steijaert, McDonald’s’ CCO, will be developing a zero-party data strategy to bring together explicit data and technology to shape every facet of the customer experience. Zero-party data is the information provided to brands proactively by their customers in exchange for a more personalised and better experience. As a result, it makes sense that zero-party data and CX should be closely aligned.

But zero-party data doesn’t just happen. Unlike the old days, you can’t just buy a list. It takes hard work to devise ways to encourage customers to provide their preferences. And once they’ve shared these, ensuring that they are used appropriately and effectively is the name of the game or you risk damaging the relationship through broken promises.

The first step to successfully implement a zero-party data strategy is to manage customer preferences in real-time. This is achieved by enabling customers to set up an account. Once they have a personalised login it is possible to generate information by asking them relevant questions or by creating quizzes, surveys, and interactive experiences.

Customers also need to be able to manage how they want a brand to communicate with them and update this at any time, this is typically through the use of a preference centre. The best preference centres allow customers not only to outline how they want to be contacted but also give indications about what kind of content they wish to receive.

Finally, for the data to make a difference to the CX it must be easily merged with other datasets and accessible by the relevant people in the business – in a secure and legislatively compliant manner. Moreover, by incorporating zero-party data into advanced analytics personal experience can be created at scale creating missions and relevant touchpoints for cohorts of customers. Resulting in more meaningful customer experiences based on preference and grounded by trust.