We are in the age of immediacy. The pervasiveness of connected products, big data, and machine learning capabilities has created — and continues to feed — consumer demand for speed, accuracy, and thoroughness in virtually every interaction. The transformative impact of the “on-demand” consumer experience has many implications, but it also presents organizations with new opportunities to deliver hyper-personalized, valuable experiences that attract and retain customers.
The key to successfully structuring experiences that meet or exceed consumer expectations in this era of immediacy is having relevant data and making intelligent use of that data. For example, consumers want the absolute highest level of speed, accuracy, and security when they check a credit card balance, review transactions, or make payments online — either via a website, mobile app, or another method. To make that happen, a financial institution needs to employ a database system that can ingest the torrents of streaming data coming from potentially millions of users and perform real-time analytics on that data to deliver useful and accurate information to any customer in milliseconds, at any moment.
Providing an effective, consistent, omnichannel real-time experience requires a data-driven strategy that meets the needs of each individual customer. While the average consumer may not understand the technical requirements behind each tap within their iPhone app or click of a mouse, organizations need to consider these top three aspects of their digital experiences — or risk losing a customer in 10 seconds or less.
Latency and Downtime
We know consumer patience is waning, and to remain competitive, companies strive to be the fastest in their market with virtually no noticeable downtime. In popular cases, this urgency makes sense — think about how the world responds when Twitter is down — but it’s also vital in more complex industries, such as telecommunications. Telcos in particular run some of the most demanding data management environments in the business world. Their network efficiency guidelines have extreme requirements for the availability and performance of network infrastructure, hardware, and software known as six 9s, or 99.9999 percent availability. While telcos may be a slightly more extreme example, the same high standard of little to no downtime applies across an increasing number of industries. Organizations need to have plans and infrastructures in place to ensure limited latency and minimal — if any — downtime to keep customers engaged.
User Engagement and Interaction
User engagement and interactions must be managed to keep customers completely satisfied with your brand. One example is online gaming. Game designers must enhance a player’s experiences to increase retention, making sure each player is both challenged and engaged. Real-time player segmentation is crucial, enabling the game designer to tailor game play to meet the skill level, player “status” and experience of each player in real time. Massive multiplayer synchronous online games reach millions of daily active users, serving hundreds of thousands of concurrent players at any given time. Game platforms rely on real-time player segmentation, omnichannel CRM, and A/B testing — all delivered across geographical regions in real time.
Closely related to user engagement is personalization — one of the easiest ways to keep a user engaged is to show that you know who that user is and to give them something uniquely tailored to be of value to them through personalization. More than the latest marketing jargon, personalization is becoming table stakes for many online experiences, particularly in e-commerce scenarios, but also in areas such as customer support, gaming, and marketing. Given the power of big data and machine learning technologies, we are starting to see personalization on some level influencing every touchpoint in every industry with a digital presence. Given its prevalence, consumers are beginning to expect at least some degree of personalization, forcing many organizations to evolve from a traditional business-to-business (B2B)/business-to-commerce (B2C) model to a B2Me model. One of the fastest ways to lose customer interest — or even generate highly publicized backlash — is to have a personalization fail, whether that is an irrelevant or inappropriate ad being served or a poorly timed offer being displayed. People are very happy to shame companies in Twitter for their personalization sins.
Additionally, companies need to be able to personalize experiences based on data from a variety of sources, providing a real-time snapshot of a customer’s previous interactions with their brand. It is vital that companies venturing into sophisticated personalization have the expertise and resources available to execute it thoroughly — breaking down their data silos so that you have a true 360-degree view of their customers — or risk annoying their customers and losing revenues. Think back to the time you called customer service at your mobile carrier and the service agent could not see on their system that you had five dropped calls within the last week. Or think about when you receive an email offer for a product that is completely wrong for you. In both cases, the data exists to make the experiences better and more rewarding for both you and the company, but the company either was unable to make proper use of the data or chose not to do so.
The art of real-time data and its applications is a complex, rapidly evolving landscape. Speed and consistency will continue to improve as technology enhances, so it is imperative for companies to focus on these core customer experience elements to remain competitive in their respective markets.
Madhup Mishra is the Head of Products at VoltDB and is responsible for product strategy, product management and analyst relations amongst other things. He brings around 10 years of product management leadership experience from both large companies and startups alike. Madhup holds an MS in Computer Engineering from NC State University and an MBA in General Management from Duke University.