The Journey To Next Best Experience

Simply put, the “next best experience” is the ideal next interaction that a customer or potential customer should have with your brand. Consumers are desperate for clarity in the complex relationships between themselves and brands. In this cluttered environment, great experiences can be a breath of fresh air. While CX teams have played a crucial role in making this idea central to business operations, today it is primarily marketing teams being tasked with delivering communications and other channel interactions that become excellent customer experiences. In this blog, we will discuss ways that marketers can consistently deliver the ideal next interaction and ensure the best possible outcome by using the right strategy, the right process, and the right data and analytics.

The Strategy Behind Next Best Experience

A strategy workshop session to decide how to build out a next best experience planDelivering the next best experience to each customer is a journey that begins with planning. In many ways, doing this planning is like someone preparing for a road-trip and not wanting to miss any crucial sight-seeing opportunity on the way to their vacation-destination.  To deliver a great experience, businesses must consider both what their customers need to know along the way to the goal they want to accomplish. Just like a vacation-planner, businesses need to consider what experiences will be appreciated. Doing this allows them to determine which will add the most value in the limited time available. This often starts with a customer journey map, which illustrates every pathway and touchpoint as customers travel along the customer journey.

Next Best Experience Strategies That Work

Tactically, for the quickest value, don’t re-imagine every touchpoint and every interaction. Instead, focus on how to seamlessly and positively get customers from one interaction to the next and to the ultimate goal. One example of a brand who applied this well was Ford. They saw that customers were spending 75% of their car buying journeys online, and sought a way to make the experience more interactive and less disconnected. To do this, they planned the flow of car customization, advertisement, and messaging, so that they could deliver the right experience one after the other, or wait when appropriate.

What’s right for your brand matters – absolutely. But to drive the most value, your next best experience strategy must center your customer’s needs and interests.  This requires data and planning. While marketers often turn to building new databases (or more recently CDPs)for a complete view of the customer, it is far less taxing on your resources to make immediate use of existing data using a federated model based around a customer journey hub. This can work as a “virtual CDP” and performs much more work (and is operational much more quickly) than a new database, allowing you to understand the context of customer experiences and act on that context immediately.

The Process Behind Next Best Experience

A team builds Next best experience processes on a computerThe next step in delivering the next best experience, is building out automated processes to support your strategy efforts. Failing to do so is like planning all parts of a vacation except how you will get from place to place. To make these journeys a reality, advanced brands are using real-time interaction management and customer journey orchestration technology to sync channels, push and pull customer data,  make decisions on best next experiences, and then act to deliver them. To get the quickest value, focus on making sure data flows across channels and to improve part of the customer journey that often experiences customer drop-off.

Building Next Best Experience Processes

If we think back to Ford, we can see that they applied their strategy, but importantly didn’t force customers into a specific flow. Instead, the digital experience adapted to what customers expressed they needed. Because they’d invested in planning, Ford was able to build processes to personalize experiences, remembering cars that customers had designed online, and getting them to the appropriate dealership faster.

Building processes that incorporate customer’s context will strengthen the experience and allow for personalization. In the context of next best experience, personalization allows you to create the next best experience for each individual, not simply the average next best experience for all profiles. By connecting all of your data and channels, you can make sure that consumers don’t repeat experiences unnecessarily and aren’t shown irrelevant information.

The Analytics Behind Next Best Experience

A view of an analytics platform, helping marketers determine the next best experienceMany businesses are using analytics after-the-fact, like a vacationer reflecting on a trip that they’ve just completed. For a business this kind of approach is a good start, as it provides an overview of what experiences have worked in the past. Unfortunately, this approach often means only being able to change things after it’s already too late. The answer, both for the vacationer and for your analytics, is to incorporate predictivity. By looking through the windshield as they drive to the next destination, a vacationer can steer the car away from potholes or better, towards a great experience that they might not have know would be on their path.

Instead of only looking at data in hindsight, which is most helpful for reporting, taking a predictive analytics approach can improve your entire process. Analytics should be done before you strategize, while you’re designing strategy and process, and long after your project goes live. To prove value most quickly, listen to your channels before implementation, performing a process of journey discovery. Find out which journey paths are leading customers from best experience to best experience, and feed that information back into your strategy and process planning.

The Real Power of Next Best Experience Analytics

A graphic showing a chart, next best experience leads this chart up and to the rightWhen Ford had begun to run their new process, they were also tasked with demonstrating  value to senior management. Through Kitewheel’s unique visual interface, Ford’s team was able to define and measure KPI’s for each step of the journey, across touch points, and then optimize journeys in real-time. This meant that they not only were able to demonstrate value to the rest of the business, but they were able to continue to improve with each iteration of the journey.

Every business will need to ask themselves, “what is the most important data to capture?”. The answer is that longitudinal, behavioral, intent, and satisfaction data are the most useful when starting out.  Anything that can tell you about the customer across time will have more value than data that provides a snapshot of a single instant. By comparing customer’s behavior, intent, and satisfaction data across time, you can create a 4D picture of how customers move through their interactions with your business. This then feeds in directly to your next level of strategy and process building.

Final Word:

Next best experience seems like a simple concept, but delivering it every time you interact with every customer isn’t easy. Marketers succeed at best next experience when they can lay out the data in a consumable, understandable way. They then need to compartmentalize the logic and processes to drive changes to the experience. 

The Real-time Interaction Management Guide helps marketers deliver next best experiences

Finally, marketers should automate journeys to see the results and measure the impact of their NBE planning. It may seem like a significant investment to go through the process of designing new strategy, building out processes, and continuously performing analytics, but the results speak for themselves. Improvements to CX directly result in higher revenue and increased long-term satisfaction.

One critical step to deliver the next best experience is being able to perform effectively in real time. To learn how, read our guide on Real Time Interaction Management for a best practices tactical guide to this emerging field.