• Home
  • keyboard_arrow_right News
  • keyboard_arrow_right Loyalty Live: TCS on Leveraging Customer Data Platforms in Support of Loyalty Program Efforts


Loyalty Live: TCS on Leveraging Customer Data Platforms in Support of Loyalty Program Efforts


share close

As brand marketers seek to comprehensively understand and use the customer data they’ve collected, one of the first considerations centers on integrating a customer data platform (CDP) into their martech stack or better leveraging the one already in place. While a CDP houses disparate data gathered by various technologies used in an organization, unless a clear process of persona-building, establishing customer journeys, and purpose-led engagement is prioritized, brands can fall into a pattern of trying to engage customers solely through transactional loyalty efforts — which might leave them left behind in a competitive marketplace. 

TCS Digital Software & Solutions offers software solutions that activate artificial intelligence (AI) across various industries, domains of customer engagement/experience, sustainability, and smart enterprises. TCS Customer Intelligence & Insights™ (CI&I) for retail is an integrated software solution that combines intelligent loyalty, real-time customer data platforms (CDPs), and AI-driven customer analytics. 

Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with Suman Mahalanabis, Head of Product Management, TCS Digital Software & Solutions, and Padmashwini Raghunathan, Product Manager, TCS Customer Intelligence & Insights™ for retail and Loyalty Management, Digital Software & Solutions. The three discussed how a CDP supports a brand’s customer loyalty efforts, customer data privacy and responsible AI, and key personalization initiatives.


Customer Data Platforms’ Role in Customer Loyalty Efforts 

Customer data platforms are central to a brand’s data management and customer loyalty efforts. When considering CDP adoption within the current market, TCS found it’s been largely CMO-led, with 60% of CDP implementations focused on campaigns and enhancing customer personalization. Typically, CDP use falls under marketing’s purview.  

“However, in my view, from a CDP perspective, it’s beyond that,” says Mahalanabis. “The promise of CDP is much more when you consider it from the perspective of a customer engagement model.”  

Mahalanabis explains that the customer engagement model can be extended to create a flywheel — starting from the concept of discovering the customer persona and understanding who they are from their consumption, behaviors, and interactions. Based on that persona and translated into journeys, brands can learn the most relevant and meaningful journeys for customers in their daily lives.  

Next, insights from those journeys can be translated into developing connected engagements, linking daily life journeys to communities, aspirations, and emotions.  

“From there, it can be brought back to building a network and community, which can create a flywheel for the customer engagement model — that’s where the true promise of customer data platforms lie,” adds Mahalanabis.  

This is where TCS sees CDPs as central to that concept. The market and definitions of CDPs have evolved, and increasingly, brands are looking at them from an enterprise capability, not just within marketing. Brands have come to see CDPs as having roles in customer care and channel and digital interactions, as well as customer engagement.  

“How we define CDP is beyond a golden record or creation of a unified profile,” explains Mahalanabis. “The true promise of a CDP lies where you can start connecting the dots into a connected customer profile to drive a connected customer engagement model.”  

Mahalanabis offers examples of profiles to illustrate. Busy Beth might be a working mother with two children. Her journey from Monday to Friday would be very different from the weekend. During the week, she would prefer small format stores — walk-in/walk-out — and app-based checkouts. On weekends, she might have more time for herself and will go for a morning run, connecting with wellness and nutrition choices.  

The moment marketers look at consumers from the angle of persona, they can tap into the power of a CDP. It is a smart hub — uniting profiles and bringing AI and analytics to bear to discover personas and consumer journeys. Journeys are linked to engagement, which is linked to loyalty.  

“For TCS, leveraging a CDP is central to a customer engagement model, but on its own, it cannot deliver the promise unless it’s married to insights, analytics, and loyalty, with all coming together to deliver on improved customer engagement,” emphasizes Mahalanabis. 


CDPs and Enhancing a Brand’s Technology Stack 

Marketing will frequently utilize multiple systems in its technology stack — some are implemented for data collection, and others are designed for data activation. Raghunathan points out there is a data privacy risk when it is dispersed in many places, and a CDP helps protect the customer’s privacy by housing the data in one place. 

Additionally, ensuring a consistent customer experience can be challenging with so many disparate data sources. This is where a CDP again comes into the picture, unifying the data and providing a consistent view of the customer for the brands and one view of the brand for its customers.  

“It’s not just about the unification of the data into one place but building on top of it to analyze the customer’s interests, likes, and dislikes, and then providing a purpose-led engagement,” says Raghunathan.  

Raghunathan further shares how that kind of model — a customer data platform with insights and loyalty added on top — is critical to ensure redundancies in the marketing technology landscape are removed. This will help rationalize the entire technology stack that marketing currently uses.  


Data and Privacy 

Data and customer privacy continue to be of concern for brands and marketers. Loyalty360 recently produced a research paper on data privacy, tapping into the experience of its brand members as the study was conducted. Nearly 70% of brands feel their focus on data and privacy has increased in the last 12 to 18 months. A CDP can help address some of the issues a brand might face. 

Loyalty is an important entry point for customers — this places an emphasis on collecting zero- and first-party data, given that third-party cookies are becoming obsolete. When customers share their data — and loyalty is an important avenue for that data — it’s important for customers to feel safe. They want to make sure that their data is used for the purpose for which it was collected. They want the benefits it leads to — for example, a more personalized experience.  

In a typical marketing technology stack, loyalty is a silo in itself when it comes to managing customer data. Managing customer data in multiple places leads to data privacy concerns. 

“If loyalty is tied to a CDP in the sense that all customer data available in the loyalty program flows into the customer data platform, then the CDP takes care of data privacy. It takes care of maintaining the customer’s consent, making sure that the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of the customer is protected, thus providing an environment that customers can use and trust,” says Raghunathan.  

Mahalanabis points out that apart from data privacy, what is also critical is privacy and responsible AI. When considering customer engagement models and insights collected, brands must ensure that the use of AI is ethical. Responsible AI and data privacy need to come together to build that vital element of trust.  



Personalization Trends 

When it comes to personalization — what analytics, AI, and generative AI ultimately support — giving customers relevant experiences matters most. A key trend TCS has observed is a moving away from transaction-driven personalization to more purpose-led engagement personalization.  

Raghunathan offers an example of a retailer that TCS is currently working alongside in terms of defining a future loyalty journey. “This retailer wants to promote golf. As a standard, they offer different tiers for their customers — people who are focused on golf, tennis, etc. — and based on that, their loyalty program differs. But their core purpose is to make people adopt the game more.”  

TCS is working with the golf retailer’s marketing team to craft a story. For example, Customer Nancy belongs to the Busy Beth persona. She’s a single mother living with her daughter Tracy. For work, she moves to a different neighborhood, and Tracy is enrolled in a new school, where she gets in trouble. The mother and daughter discuss the issue, and Tracy reveals it’s difficult to engage with the other students, and she’s lonely.  

Tracy tells her mother that the other students are interested in golf, but she is not well-versed in the game. The mother and daughter decide to learn more about golf and find the retailer TCS is working alongside. It’s a welcoming environment, and the associates are friendly. Because Customer Nancy and her daughter Tracy are new to the game, the retailer recommends a welcome kit. In a typical loyalty journey, they would have received points for that and transaction-based offers.  

“That’s the personalization currently in practice. But just imagine if, during the conversation, the retailer learns the true purpose of Nancy and Tracy wanting to understand the game. Tracy wants to engage more with her classmates. She doesn’t want to be lonely. That was the core purpose for visiting the store,” continues Raghunathan.  

The purpose can be revealed using the personal analysis conducted by TCS. This information is married to the brand’s goal: getting more people to play golf. In the example, the store associate connects them to an expert coach who can teach them about the game and helps them join a community of golfers. The mother is relieved because her daughter is more active in the community and has more friends. The core need of social connection is achieved, and the mother and daughter duo become truly loyal customers of the brand. 

“This is the journey we see,” finishes Raghunathan. “The trend in personalization is moving toward uncovering the true motivation of a customer and then tying that back to the brand’s purpose.”  


CDP Implementation Considerations for Brands 

For companies seeking to implement a CDP or optimize the use of a CDP in their brand’s technology infrastructure, certain considerations must be made.  

TCS advises brands to take a holistic approach — to look at it as a “smart hub CDP” that is defined but also one that can help provide a more consistent and connected experience with customers. For those who want to implement a CDP, TCS typically takes clients through a customer value walk.  

“To get to this single view of a customer, it’s not advisable to first collect all the customer data in one place, get to that ‘golden record’ of a customer, and then start engaging with them,” says Raghunathan. “TCS guides clients to start where they are depending on the data sources that are already available. Check if it’s transaction data or loyalty data and decide to start there to form those connections of customers — what we call the identity graph — of a typical CDP and then slowly start engaging with them.”  

As customers begin engaging with the brand, more data is produced and added to the profile. The brand can learn more about its customers. From there, they can build personas based on the collected data — followed by moving to journey, then to engagement, and, finally, branded to see the entire customer engagement flywheel. 


Technology Opportunities and Tools: Looking Forward 

TCS sees AI and generative AI as the big trends in customer engagement, personalization, and how brands are connecting with customers. TCS has also observed — especially on the retail side — retail media networks shaping loyalty.  

When retailers seek to monetize their data and bring loyalty back on track, loyalty plays a significant role because it gives key insights into who customers are and their preferences, which is more important than solely transactional behavior. TCS believes this focus on loyalty data will help brands monetize the data.  


Personalization Predictions 

Mahalanabis notes three key items happening around personalization. One is a shift from segmentation to persona building. Segmentation traditionally focuses on frequency and monetary exchanges, making brands more transactional. Shifting from segmentation to persona can allow brands to better understand consumers across their behavioral, psychographic, and transactional patterns. It provides a more holistic view of consumers.  

“The moment the shift happens, brands can understand and discover such persona journeys — like Busy Beth,” explains Mahalanabis. “Connecting personas to their journeys is the next crucial step in the process and where a CDP can help by connecting multiple digital footprints and profiles across touchpoints.”  

As brands turn to more ecosystem-based and ecosystem-led engagements, TCS notes that 70% of customer data can reside outside the enterprise. This is why understanding customer journeys is critical. From there, brands can consider how to simplify the journey. Mahalanabis sees a tremendous opportunity with Gen AI to build a differentiated experience that removes multiple friction points.  

“Having discovered customer journeys and embedding them into their daily lives, brands must be tied back to responsible and purpose-led engagements,” says Mahalanabis. “Research indicates consumers relate to a brand eight times more when they see the brand as responsible, sustainable, and focused on giving back to society.”  

This is the third element influencing personalization strategies — relating responsible engagements through a loyalty platform, such as reducing a brand’s carbon footprint or supporting causes important to customers.  

“It can be any goals, emotions, and beliefs that your personas respond to,” finishes Mahalanabis.  

In sum, these are the areas TCS will focus on in 2024, and those are the topics being discussed with clients. TCS plans to continue leveraging generative AI while building purpose-led engagements into its solutions and products. 

Source link

Subscribe Now, it's FREE

Receive each new podcast episode directly to your email.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Rate it
Previous post