What’s your vacation dream? Adventure? Luxurious indulgence? Lounge by the pool with a glass of something cool?
The holiday reality though … not so much. Lock yourself out of ─ and your cash in ─ your room. Not enough money with you to buy that must-have in the mall. Miss a spur-of-the-moment romantic dinner because your card is by the bed. Stress over where to put your wallet when you’re windsurfing in a skin-tight swimsuit. Sound familiar?
Now imagine a vacation getaway where cash, IDs, credit cards, and keys are a memory as distant as the world you left behind. A holiday where everything just works without a second thought. A holiday where all the resort has to offer opens up to you with the wave of your wrist. And crucially ─ a holiday where no wallet spoils the line of your Speedos.
Innovations in data-driven customer experience make it possible.
Melia’ Hotels International and Oracle have not only imagined that carefree holiday experience, they’ve turned it into a reality. In just four months, they developed a personal passport that marries beautiful form with efficient function for new levels of guest freedom. And it looks great with whatever you’re wearing.The Journey
Seamless customer experiences are central to Melia’s business model as it launches a new breed of resort ─ offering different vibes depending on a guest’s whim. From adrenalin-fueled adventure to sumptuous shopping to laidback luxury, the new resort has it covered. The trick is transporting customers from one experience to the next ─ taking them on a journey through a resort without borders.
The Melia’ Bracelet, of course, gives guests keyless access to their rooms. But there’s more: The bracelet allows guests to:
- Pay for everything across all three ‘vibed’ areas of the resort.
- Tailor their interests and buy add-ons based on them.
- Shop in the mall cash and credit card free
And the Melia’ Bracelet allows the hotel to know where guests are ─ adding another level of safety and security ─ while also informing better planning based on factors such as customer movements and attendance at events.The Reality
Imagine a holiday where your hotel room unlocks itself as you approach, welcoming you with your choice of music and lighting. A holiday where your preferences tailor experiences to enhance your stay. A holiday where you book dinner at a restaurant you’ve never seen but are sure to love, buy a new top from the hottest label (with a personalized discount) and get your name on the VIP list at the best nightclub with the flick of the wrist.
Imagine no more, because the bracelet is making the dream a reality at Melia’’s Sol Katmandu Park Hotel and at the newly opened Calviá Beach The Plaza ─ right now. And built on Oracle’s cloud platform, it will evolve ─ with plans to adopt AI to bring new levels of personalization to the holiday experience. This constantly adaptable tech gem will keep guests constantly coming back for more ─ and drive in-resort revenue.
Gabriel Escarrer, Vice President and CEO of Meliá Hotels Internationals, has no doubt as to what has made this project special. "In Meliá Hotels International we have imagined a new vacation where our guests can enjoy all the hotel services without worrying about carrying identification or money. And we have made it a reality thanks to an innovative project in collaboration with Oracle."
“Co-innovation has been central in enabling Melia’ to bring their imagination to life”, explains Neil Sholay, Vice President of Digital, Oracle EMEA. “Melia’ started this project with an idea and a passion to improve the guest experience. This project proves that by combining Melia’’s expertise in hospitality with Oracle’s business innovation and technology strength, it is possible to take truly transformational ideas and turn them into reality. In a matter of weeks, together we have co-created an experience beyond expectations.”
Go wild? Indulge? Kick back by the pool with a glass of something cool? The choice now really is yours.
Errors in data exist. And when most marketers start looking into their data, they realize the data problems are worse than they thought. Common problems include: Miskeyed dates and misspelled names. Inaccurate abbreviations (AR for Arizona, for example). Multiple spellings for the same thing (e.g.Continue reading...
Shortly after I started working in the technology industry in the mid-2000s, I had the unique opportunity to work with a pioneer of online travel.Continue reading...
We in the vendor world like to talk about ourselves. A lot. We like to talk about how our products are so smart, so user-friendly, so useful, so valuable, and so mission-critical. So many pats on our own backs. I find it educational and humbling to sit back once in a while and observe the vendor activity on my Twitter and LinkedIn feeds.
To be fair, my company is as guilty as any other company in the way product information and its importance to business is trumpeted across networks. Also, and again to be fair, this is not a bad thing on its own. After all, it’s just advertising. It’s bad though if your customers grow weary of the onslaught.
Do you know if they are?
The onslaught of anything causes deflection or shutdown. I know I switch the channel on the treadmill when commercials come on, just as I do when I click on a link and it opens a website that includes autoplay of a video. Close it down, shut it off, make it stop. Those kinds of consumer reactions are not what marketers envision from their campaigns. The same principle — and same set of reactions — holds for existing customers on the receiving end of your messaging.So What Do Customers Want?
Good question. They want lots of things. They want products that are easy to use and do what the vendor says they will. They want accurate and fast basic service when they need it, and they want real expertise available when they are in a situation that warrants it. They’re willing to pay for that last piece, by the way. Are any of those things unreasonable? No.
Customers want more because we vendors have elevated their expectations. We’re delivering more features, functionality, and business value through our products and solutions all the time. While their lives can be more complicated as a result, the net effect is that technological solutions are having a positive effect on their businesses.
That’s one form of onslaught, but it’s a form that customers are attracted to. An onslaught of value is a good thing.
The scene turns sour, though, when our vendor voice drowns out their customer one. When customers feel they have to struggle to get those (in their minds) minimum service expectations I listed above met, that’s when they feel vendors are only interested in themselves. There are Voice of the Customer programs, which, of course, have the potential for offering tremendous listening value, but how else can vendors show they care?Climb The Mountain of Data
How about using the vast amount of data collected each day from your customers’ use of your product? How about leveraging the data that you already know about the kind of business they’re in and how successful they’ve been, the products they subscribe to (yours and your competitors’), the trajectory of their spend with you, about the roles of the individuals employed and who serve as your contacts in all those accounts, about the business goals they aspire to and that they’ve already detailed for you?
All of that should be stored in your CRM.
How about reconciling all that data with what you should know about what’s happening in the national and international economies where your customers conduct their business? How about taking all that data and, without even a hint of alchemy, turn it into insights that you can action with customers? In addition to great solutions, this is what customers really want.Getting From Here to There
If heightened expectations mean customers want more insights, what does that mean for vendors? Vendors need to accelerate the data literacy of their workforces, particularly those in their customer-facing organizations. They need to evolve their teams to a point where customers and opportunities are represented by data that can be distilled into meaningful action.
Data literacy is the ability to read, understand, create and communicate data as information. It’s the ability of a person to be comfortable operating in an environment where automated work processes are fueled by data, mountains of it. Digitally transformed businesses can only be so when they can say that their processes are operating from a foundation of data, which, of course, dictates that people responsible for operating the processes need to be as data fluent as possible to participate fully in an environment of iterative improvement.
Sadly though, Capgemini reports that only a minority (39 percent) of businesses feel they are digitally capable. And, although this next piece focuses on this issue specifically as it pertains to the US federal government, according to this Nextgov article, organizations aren’t doing enough to advance the data literacy skills of their workforces.
Broadly speaking, data illiteracy hurts a company’s ability to meet business targets, and, in the future, it will more severely compromise their ability to compete. As stated in the article, organizations should make driving up data literacy rates across their workforces a high priority “instead of depending on a few experts who hold the keys to the data kingdom … .”Does Customer Success Play a Role?
Carrying over from a recent post I wrote called, Customer Success: An Instrument for Change, there is no more logical organization to lead the effort toward digitally transforming a company so that it revolves around the needs and experiences of customers. Why? Because no other organization has as close proximity to the customer’s business as customer success. No other organization is as weighted with responsibility for ensuring customers stay customers over the long haul. And no other organization is as increasingly looked upon as integral to a customer’s ability to achieve their business goals.
But in most cases, customer success is not quite ready for such a key role in a digitally transformed landscape. More change needs to occur and the most fundamental one of all is elevating its members’ level of data literacy so that the following example can be digitally and procedurally handled instead of the way it typically is today in almost all companies, by executive escalation and disruptive panic.
Example: Customer A bought Product B from your company. Customer A is a financial services firm whose flamboyant CEO loves speaking to the media about the future of fintech. She’s recently announced a new initiative that will see her firm invest millions into a new lab to exploit that technology because, as she says, her customers are becoming increasingly data literate. But that will only happen once they complete an internal review of the performance and relevance of their existing technology investments and associated vendors. Do you think that might produce some important action for the customer success team? Do you think it might trigger them to redouble their efforts at ensuring Customer A is successful in achieving their business goals through Product B so that your company lands on the right side of that assessment process?
A vendor with a data literate workforce would have an edge. A data literate workforce would already know whether the customer is achieving success or not and would already have been executing a plan to keep things moving in the right direction.
You get my point.
Data literacy drives more intelligent decisions. And while they might not be saying it or even thinking it, data literacy is what your customers need you to have.
It’s past your bedtime. Do you know where your private personal data is? Do you know who has access to that data? Your answers are probably ‘No’. That’s because you’ve handed over a lot of private data to service providers on the internet and trusted that they’re protecting you and that data. Recent events have shown that’s not always the case and a new law in California aims to fix that.
New legislation will add significant privacy protections for Californians and place new burdens on businesses. While the new legislation applies only to residents of California, most businesses will have customers in the state and do collect some level of private information from customers, so this legislation has broad implications for marketers even outside the state.
Earlier this year law makers in California introduced sweeping consumer privacy legislation. The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 unanimously passed in the California State Assembly and Senate, was signed into law by the Governor and will go into effect in 2020. The Act is the most sweeping consumer privacy legislation ever passed in the United States and gives consumers broad control over personal information collected by businesses. The law is not specific to any one digital channel, but spans all channels where personal information is collected, stored and used by marketers.
Californians will have the following rights under the law:
- Right to know what personal information is being collected and whether it is sold or disclosed and to whom
- The right to say no to the sale of personal information
- The right to access their personal information
- The right to equal service and price when privacy rights are exercised
Businesses have enjoyed great freedom in how they collect and use consumers' private information. Consumers have had little recourse when their private information is compromised. Recent high-profile incidents involving private consumer data collected by marketers in the digital realm have rattled users of social media and other internet services. Data breaches exposed millions of consumers' credit information. Consumers' social media data was misused by Cambridge Analytica. Users' trust of these services is eroding.
The law will enact several requirements which will directly impact how marketers interact with consumers in California and manage their personal information across a broad range of marketing media. These requirements include:
- Inform customers at the point of collection what personal information will be collected
- Allow consumers free access to their personal information and make the information available in a portable and readily usable format that can be transmitted to another service
- Delete a consumer's personal information on request
- Disclose on request personal information collected, the purpose for collecting or selling personal information, and any third parties with which personal information was shared
- Honor consumers' requests to opt-out of having their personal information sold to third parties
- Provide a prominent "Do Not Sell My Personal Information" link on the homepage to facilitate the consumer opt-out process
- Provide the same level of service and price even when a consumer chooses to exercise their rights under the Act
When the Act goes into effect in 2020 marketers must be ready to comply, with new procedures, processes and customer facing tools. Companies will also need to decide if they will treat California consumers differently from those outside California.
The law will be enforced by the Attorney General of California, and the Act creates a "Consumer Privacy Fund" to offset costs of enforcing the Act. Consumers will also have a private right of action if companies fail to adequately protect their personal information under the requirements of the Act. Penalties for data breaches are also laid out in the Act.
This legislation, and others like the recently enacted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, reflect a rising tide of personal data protection for consumers. The message from these enactments is clear: consumers must maintain primary control over their own personal information and businesses must provide access, transparency and strong safeguards to protect consumers' personal information.
Marketers should study this new legislation and start planning now on how to comply. 2020 will approach quickly, and businesses that are not ready to comply may be subject to penalties if they don't meet the requirements of the Act.
By Shruti Bhat, Senior Director of Cloud and Emerging Technologies, Oracle
Companies intent on using artificial intelligence to evolve from merely data-driven reactors to truly adaptive enterprises need their chief marketing officers to step up to that urgent challenge.
Broadly speaking, AI is an advanced software engine that ingests customer and other data to sense, analyze, reason, and propose actions. As such, AI-imbued applications are becoming indispensable in helping CMOs and their organizations read customers’ digital body language and anticipate their needs, helping companies adapt their business models accordingly.
AI tools are particularly critical to CMOs in three key areas:
- Delighting each customer, one at a time. AI finally lets CMOs deliver on the long-time promise of “extreme personalization,” tailoring products and offers to each individual rather than broad groups.
Traditionally, marketers have segmented customers into such groups based on similar interests, needs, or locations. The expectation is they will have common requirements and respond similarly to marketing offers, but this approach makes the inherently flawed assumption that groups of people behave alike.
I’ve previously experimented with “one-to-one marketing” at a software-as-a-service startup, where I created 10 segments—each consisting of just one company. Each was a specific account that we really needed to land, and this approach allowed us to be extremely targeted and focused.
However, it wasn’t a scalable approach, so we took it a step further, creating our own AI-based marketing bot that would “personally” interact with thousands of potential customers. The bot then combined insights from those interactions with signals from other data sets to deliver a highly customized onboarding experience, followed by constant relevant engagement to continuously grow usage of our product. By combining historical purchase patterns with rich consumer behavior data, AI helps CMOs anticipate exactly what each individual customer needs.
- Powering “growth hacking.” Growth hacking is the process of using insights gleaned from data to develop a hypothesis on how to rapidly grow the business—and then quickly testing it out using live experiments across marketing and product development.
Airbnb is the poster child. The room-sharing service once struggled with a classic chicken-or-egg growth challenge: It realized that having more apartment and home listings would attract more renters, but it needed more renters to attract more listings. Airbnb experimented with autopostings on Craigslist to reach a broader base and consequently realized exponential growth.
During the last five years most startups have embraced growth hacking, but large enterprises still struggle with rapid experimentation, mainly because of the vast amounts of data they need to grapple with. With AI, the explosion of enterprise data becomes an inherent strength rather than a roadblock for large companies, because it enables more experimentation and faster results. For CMOs, this means the ability to help adapt not just the marketing strategy, but the product and distribution model as well, constantly optimizing on all fronts for customer acquisition, retention, and viral growth.
- Increasing customer loyalty—the right way. It’s standard practice to measure customer lifetime value—how much a customer spends with your company from the time he or she first buys one of your products. But most companies don’t quantify customer lifetime happiness, or how satisfied the customer is at different touch points.
While it’s common for companies to measure social media buzz and conduct broad surveys to gather customer feedback, that data says nothing about how annoyed a particular customer felt because of a late delivery and how a simple service tweak or discount in the next month might increase his or her loyalty over the years. Getting to that level of service requires companies to connect intelligence across their entire value chains.
For example, the company’s supply chain management system would need to flag the late delivery for its customer relationship management system, which in turn would check with the company’s financial systems to identify the best personalized offer for that customer given the context of that late delivery.
With AI, CMOs can use such real-time insights to delight customers under different circumstances—and most importantly, track and quantify the long-term impact on the business.
While it will take time for artificial intelligence to seep into every business area, CMOs are smart to embrace it quickly, as customers are more vocal and demanding than ever before.
*This post originally appeared in Forbes.
This article is part of our series on customer experience where we focus on topics relating to connecting data, intelligence and experiences. Further reading: Campaigns Don’t End When You Hit Send: The Importance of Feedback Loops.
Paid media is a powerful tool with plenty of metrics to present. But which ones should marketers pay attention to? Clicks and likes don’t drive outcome for the business.
When things inevitably go awry, fingers are pointed in every direction and paid media costs are quickly scrutinized. However, many times the real culprit is data access, or lack thereof.
The importance of paid media in the Indian market is unquestionable. However, engagement, relevance, and personalization are key. It can be a complex mix and one that potentially increases the risk of inconsistent messaging and poor customer experiences.
“Marketers should also expect costs to rise as more brands come online and ad spend shifts to digital,” says my colleague Adarsh Noronha, India Oracle Marketing Cloud sales head. It is therefore important to leverage that spend as much as possible.
“Marketers are already talking about owned and earned media, but we also see great interest in a technology such as a data management platform for programmatic. Lots of marketers are adopting data management platform to improve their paid advertising strategy and get better return on advertising spend,” Noronha said.
However, programmatic, and paid media in general, means sharing control with partners - a prospect many marketers find challenging.The Paid Media Challenge
“One of the core challenges with paid media is that all participants in the advertising value circle (advertisers, publishers, and viewers) do not see it as a mutually beneficial ecosystem,” Noronha said.
With marketing budgets quickly shifting to digital in India, marketers here face questions around satisfaction, costs, and ultimately, control.
At one end marketers need to invest in paid media to tap the unknown market segments, create continuous engagement with customers, and allocate resources to identify an audience likely to convert as customers. And at the other end, returns don't come in quickly, and it can often feel like marketers are surrendering too much control.
But the issue is not one of control. After all, paid media partners are involved because of their expertise, and so the desired outcome should be a shared one. Rather, the issue is one of access - how can partners be better empowered to deliver consistent, on brand messages.
This is one area where we have been very actively involved - and collaborated with various paid media partners that have access to specialized audience segment pools - with an intent to create value for our customers and prospective buyers.
For example, if an agency has better access to segmented audience data, the view of the customer is improved and ultimately a better experience is created.
Indeed, identifying and understanding audiences is the fundamental challenge of paid media campaigns, according to Noronha.
“While some publishers or paid media partners will give you very granular data about your target audience, they also let you go deeper with the traits or attributes you would want your target audience to exhibit.”
Noronha argues that organizations and partners need the audience data to take advantage of these paid media features and really leverage their digital investments.
But just like the siloed data problem plaguing organizations from within, a poor flow of data between partners and brands can also undermine paid media efforts.Unlock Audience Data
To rectify this, it is important to improve data systems and segmentation, including access between brands and their partners. A central repository of audience data can feed other systems and deliver the necessary insights to a partner’s execution channels. The benefits quickly become apparent.
For creative agencies, this could mean a better understanding of audiences, through first-party data and segmentation, to better tailor content. While advertising agencies can develop a more rounded campaign and monitor the direct impact at an individual level.
If an organization can capture audience insights, it is incumbent on them to use that information in paid media campaigns.
Ultimately agencies retain control and execution, with more time to focus on the optimization, execution, and other relevant areas of expertise. For brands the end result is an improved, more connected customer experience, and better segmentation.
A piecemeal approach to martech may serve individual organizations or departments, but when it comes time to truly unlock the benefits of a connected stack and deliver consistent messages, the use of disparate systems or applications will grind the process to a halt.
If organizations are to be truly customer led, they must understand the interdependencies of people, process and technology, and data, to truly unlock insights into consumer behavior so that it flows freely to everyone in the ecosystem who needs it.
How will you improve ROI on advertising? Download the guide, Data-Driven Dividends.
This article is part of our series on customer experience where we focus on topics relating to connecting data, intelligence and experiences. Further reading: Why Inconsistent Messaging is Undermining Customer Experience.
While many marketers are enamored with the advantages of martech, it is worth remembering the activity should always be optimized. After all, marketing technology is only as good as the data feeding it, and customers’ behavior is constantly providing new data.
Feedback loops used to be directly communicated in person, during a one-to-one conversation. But as we’ve moved from an offline social culture to transacting primarily online, we need to find new ways to understand our customers.
It is now necessary to read customers digital body language to reveal purchasing power, location, interests and intent to buy – among thousands of other attributes.
For many marketers, feedback loops are a significant step up in the quest for better performance.
Targeted marketing is a standard practice. Though, ultimately the output is only as good as the data being input. Too often campaigns are verified through metrics that, in an effort to assess overall performance, fail to provide the granular level of data needed to optimize campaigns.
Fortunately, each customer touch point in a campaign can provide a feedback loop, offering different forms of verification and the potential to close data gaps — provided the right metrics are used.
Take an email campaign as an example. It may use good data segmentation based on a well curated CRM to push out the message. Traditional performance metrics would be the open rate or the click-through metric. They indicate that the audience you targeted actually interacted with that campaign. But the campaign doesn’t end after the email is sent.
The feedback loop would identify not only whether an email is opened or not, but who has and has not clicked through. Each outcome provides an opportunity to improve segmentation and optimize the campaign.
This process relies on an ability to tie actions to the individual. However it is not necessarily about identifying individuals. Digital body language is 100 per cent anonymous. Therefore privacy is maintained as global concerns are raising over data use and privacy mount.
Nevertheless it is a feature often lacking in many marketing metrics and ultimately produces disconnected experiences.Not All Metrics are Equal
Many of the existing marketing metrics provide useful insights but fail to really optimize campaigns. For example, a media agency may offer measurements aggregated by region or messaging. It shows a campaign has reached a certain percentage of a target audience. It is useful information, and not to be disregarded, but at the level of an individual it fails the optimization test.
There is disconnect, because you don't know which of those people you targeted in the campaign actually engaged with it. It is not enough to know what percentage of an audience clicked through. You need to know who has clicked through, who hasn’t, and why they did so.
The solution is to include metrics that can be interrogated at a granular, individual level - digital body language. When that information is available, it produces immediately actionable insights and a finer level of segmentation. Connecting these metrics to the technology stack improves customer verification and eventually customer data insights.
Through proper feedback loops, campaigns are adjusted on the fly with the ability to target individuals who do not initially engage.
We can also reduce advertising spend by not targeting existing customers and increase our add efficiency by targeted those customers most likely to buy.
In ASEAN, the availability of third-party data on targeted customer accounts might still be an issue for advertising. However, over the coming years we’ll be seeing a lot more data become available as large players start to make their data available via third-party marketplaces such as Oracle’s Bluekai.
Our customers who have used our Oracle Marketing Cloud to run multichannel automated campaigns (using email, push, and SMS) have realized significant increases in open rates and conversions.
While it appears an advanced use case of data and marketing technology, the current pace of change may mean it is soon table stakes.
Want to learn more?