Cognitive Engagement Is the Key to Transforming Customer Experience

Data is really just the first step to customer-centric marketing. Once you’ve got data under control, a world of cognitive-enabled insights and engagement opportunities become available.

This “next era of marketing” is already here. Cognitive capabilities are already reducing the time and effort necessary to draw critical insights on current and potential customers. Marketers have increasingly powerful tools at their fingertips to execute personalized, contextual interactions at the scale and with the speed needed to meet the ever-increasing expectations of customers.

This clearly opens up enormous opportunity. Yet a recent survey of 3,100 global executives found that less than 10 percent were investing in cognitive technologies and machine learning. Building these capabilities takes time, so investing now will pay off as a differentiator for many years to come.

But when the opportunities and data sources are practically endless, where do you start? And how do you set yourself up for success in this emerging frontier of cognitive insights and engagement?

4 keys to a successful cognitive engagement program

1. Start now: Success really depends on gaining experience and building internal capabilities. That includes helping management understand what these technologies are and what the best use cases are for early returns. Marketing organizations may be plagued by countless data platforms and analytics tools, so start by understanding what data exists, what platforms exist, and what grass roots efforts are underway so you can collaborate.

2. Start smart: Pick attainable and worthwhile projects that are going to have an ROI without significant investment in the short-term. High-impact projects don’t need to be expensive or complex, so start with a set of use cases that can be implemented relatively quickly and demonstrate the possibilities of wider adoption. It’s also critical to select the right vendors and partners who really understand how these technologies can be used.

3. Focus on innovation: Cognitive engagement technologies do not have to be “greenfield.” Identify opportunities to make existing platforms more impactful and existing products more personalized, and enhance existing business processes. A traditional retail sales channel, for example, can be transformed by empowering reps with data such as customer purchase history, product preferences, social media interactions, and customized recommendations. Cognitive should focus on innovation that will drive top-line and bottom-line growth.

4. Re-invest your short-term wins: The impact of cognitive engagement can be realized quickly, with real value to the organization. Align with leaders on your ambition for value creation, assessing strategic, financial and organizational impact. Use early financial savings to continue to innovate through larger transformation efforts. Architect the appropriate transformation based on your ambition, with more extensive platform modernization or integration potentially required over time.

What it looks like in action

One of our clients, a retailer, wanted to use cognitive technology to ultimately predict and provide optimized customer interactions across all channels—in-store, browsing their ecommerce site, or engaging with social feeds.

To get off the ground, they focused on starting “smart” by innovating their marketing campaign platform, looking at what they had in place, how it was used and how they could improve it as-is. They then asked: How can we modernize our campaigns? How can we more effectively manage the creative that goes into them? How can we match them to the right customers? Using an initial data set, they used advanced analytics and machine learning to draw relationships between customer segments, campaign creative, offers, take rate and delivery. They used this information to target customers more effectively with a personalized experience.

As they grew, they moved those insights beyond marketing campaigns, integrating additional customer data, social data and external research into a single view of each customer across their entire customer journey.

With a multi-channel data set, they were able to deploy the cognitive insights across both existing channels and new digital channels like chatbots, using patterns of successful interactions to predict what the optimal response would be no matter where or who the customer is interacting with, thus using cognitive insight to drive optimized customer engagement

We know that cognitive technologies will have an accelerating impact over the next five years. Across industries, 30 percent of companies are already seeing substantial benefit from cognitive-based projects, and 53 percent are seeing a moderate benefit, according to Deloitte’s most recent State of Cognitive Survey.

With the speed this technology maturing, the next few years will see enormous growth. While it may take patience to get to full cognitive transformation, early efforts can already pay off. Where will your marketing organization begin?