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Q&A with a Customer Experience Expert: The Science of the Unified Customer Profile

The world of marketing is changing, and the customer is now at the center.

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “the aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Never has that been more true than now, with today’s hyper-connected, mobile, and privacy-conscious consumers. The nature of the customer relationship has been turned on its head across virtually every industry, and brands are scrambling to transform how their customers perceive them – beyond mere hype. But, the best place for you as a marketer to start on this journey may be how you perceive your customers.

In short, what is your purpose – your intent – your true value? Answering these questions will not only inform how you interact with customers, but the relationship they ultimately establish with you. Is it a “one-and-done” conversion, or a growing engagement based on trust and mutual benefit? Is it a true connection?

As a part of our ongoing blog series, we’ve covered a variety of topics: how to build trusted relationships; ending marketing as a checkbox; mastering the “art of asking”; and, delivering effective, consent-driven personalization. In this Q&A, Adrian Nash of the SAP Customer Data Cloud product leadership team takes us through the most important elements of creating and growing a unified customer profile.

Q: Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

My name is Adrian Nash. I head up the Product team for the SAP Customer Data Cloud from Gigya. I’ve been with the company for over 3 years, where I’ve focused on delivering products that help our clients deliver excellent experiences for their customers. Before that, I was part of a company called Tealeaf – a Customer Experience Management tool acquired by IBM.

Q: Why is a single unified customer profile important to our clients and their customers?

Adrian: Since 2011, the available marketing tools and platforms on the market has increased by a factor of 33. This means that, more than ever, customer data is replicated into silos within an organisation that may not always be in sync. This also means that intelligence generated within these platforms is sometimes isolated within the domain of individual applications, rather than reused by any applicable tools. For example, you may generate target group segments in the marketing platform which could also be useful in mobile application personalization engines.

Now, a unified platform doesn’t necessarily mean that every data silo will be removed, (although in some instances they might be) but rather the source of customer data is managed in a central place, meaning that a unified record can be updated by subscribed systems and shared with other interested parties. This means that you get the most out of the value generated from every application across your enterprise.

Q: In the conversations you have had, what are the biggest challenges facing these organizations?

Adrian: One of the biggest challenges we see in the industry is that, due to the amount of options for delivering web, mobile, email, and IoT experiences, it can be hard to connect all of these things consistently. For example, some of our customers run 10 to 15 different content management systems, and maintaining a single data model – including the permissions and consent to use the data collected – is vital for delivering a personalized experience for their customers.

Q: How has the evolving privacy and compliance landscape impacted your clients’ views on personalisation throughout the journey?

Adrian: In many ways, the new privacy and compliance regulations are having an impact on how brands design their future platforms. The customer is really in control of their own data; therefore, forward-looking architecture puts the customer at the heart of the design.

For example, using a platform like the SAP Customer Data Cloud, knowing who the customer is across channels is the first challenge. Then, knowing who the customer is, what their preferences and interests are, and what you as an organisation can do with the data based on the consent granted, is really the starting point of downstream application activation.

Q: From your point of view, what should companies consider when building a unified customer profile and what are the things they most need to understand?

Adrian: We often see that the most successful implementations start with thinking about the domains of data, who owns the data (the customer, the organisation and other parties,) and the ultimate goal for the end-to-end customer journey.

By identifying the ideal state of the customer journey to power excellent user experiences you can start to define the data requirements, the consent requirements, the first phases of the program, how those systems will be connected, and how data is orchestrated.

Q: How is SAP Customer Data Cloud uniquely positioned to address these challenges?

Adrian: The recent and ever-changing regulations are not asking for anything new. They actually comprise a series of best practices which put the customer in control of how brands interact with them and how their data is used.

For a brand to understand what they must do to create excellent experiences, they need to recognize customers across any of the channels where they engage with them, whether that be in-store, or online via web, mobile, or IoT. Then, the brand needs to establish the rules of engagement for how and when the customer wants to receive information and updates about product and services, as well as their preferences, likes and interests. Once the brand knows who the customer is and understands their permissions and the consent they’ve granted, a complete view of volunteered and derived profile, preference and consent data can be used to deliver those personalized experiences.

The SAP Customer Data Cloud includes three products to help solve these issues. The first is SAP Customer Identity which focuses on turning unknown users into known and loyal customers. The second is SAP Customer Consent, which helps brands build trust by offering more transparent data collection and usage, and by putting the customer in control of that data. Last but definitely not least is SAP Customer Profile, which enables a unified, first-party data model of the customer. This unified profile can then be used as the single source of deterministic and volunteered customer data, connecting all associated tools and platforms to create trusted, personalized, end-to-end customer journeys.

By Ratul Shah

Gigya has updated its Privacy Policy as Gigya, Inc. has been acquired by SAP America, Inc. and Gigya has updated the information regarding how we collect and use your Personal Data. You can see the updated Privacy Policy here.