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Customer Activity Hub: Blueprint for Building Extraordinary Customer Experiences with Adobe Experience Platform

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16-11-2021

Author: Jaemi Bremner (@Jaemi_Bremner)

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In this post, Adobe Experience Platform introduces the fourth in its series of Digital Experience Blueprints — a whole new way to learn and understand how you can use its technology to build incredible customer experiences in real-time.

The challenge in creating incredible customer experiences isn’t a lack of data. Architecting an amazing experience should be easy with all the customer data enterprises collect today. Yet doing so remains an elusive goal for many not because they don’t have the data they need, but because they cannot get that data into the right place at the right time and in a way that allows them to fully leverage it.

Every day, customers interact with a brand, whether on the web, a mobile app, or in a physical store. A company is collecting these behavioral and personal data from these channels then storing it in multiple databases and systems throughout the enterprise. Building the 360-degree view of the customer enterprises need for effective and personalized customer experience management simply is not possible without a way to unify their data.

Figure 1: How data becomes fragmented across the many touchpoints a customer might have with a brand.Figure 1: How data becomes fragmented across the many touchpoints a customer might have with a brand.

To understand the problem of fragmented data, let’s look at some of the many different interactions a customer, “Sarah” in this example, might have with a brand (Figure 1):

  • Email (Green): Sarah’s favorite clothing brand sends her an email with a special offer to redeem in-store. The data from this interaction goes to the brand’s email team.
  • Mobile (Blue): On her smartphone, Sarah clicks on the link in the email and is directed to a mobile website where she can browse the brand’s new styles and compare prices for the slacks she’s interested in. All the data for this interaction, including the device ID, and the online shopping behavior goes to the brand’s mobile and personalization teams.
  • Credit Card (Yellow): Sarah enjoys the perks that come with her loyalty card, especially the convenience of being able to order her slacks online and pick them up at the store, which gives her the opportunity to try them on before paying for them. When she pays for her purchase, her credit card data is stored at the point of sale (POS) and delivered to the CRM team.

As this example illustrates, marketers may have access to customer data from all of these channels. At the same time, we know the challenge multiple teams who work at Sarah’s favorite brand have when they want to leverage this data to provide Sarah a more personalized experience.

Fragmented data means frustrated customers

In traditional enterprise systems, data moves slowly between channels (or not at all), which leads to increased latency and data loss (Figure 2). This not only eliminates the opportunity to deliver the right customer experience in real-time, but without a complete picture of your customer, there is no way to guarantee consistent messaging across channels. This can lead to inconsistent and often unintended experiences. For example, without insight from the CRM team, the email team might send Sarah a discount offer for the slacks she just bought at full price — a situation that would most certainly frustrate Sarah and lead to lower satisfaction and decreased engagement with the brand.

Figure 2: Illustration of how customer data from different interactions with a brand becomes fragmented within the enterprise system.Figure 2: Illustration of how customer data from different interactions with a brand becomes fragmented within the enterprise system.

Fragmented data not only frustrates your customers but also frustrates those that are trying to serve them. Let’s look at the example of a customer care center. When a customer calls into the call center for help and the agent isn’t able to see the full lifetime journey information for that customer, the agent cannot effectively resolve the customer’s complaint. For example, let’s say a customer has visited the store to resolve her issue in person but she is told that she will need to call customer support. In order to efficiently handle the problem when she makes that call, the customer care agent must be able to pick up where that in-store conversation left off.

Customer knowledge is key to empowering these agents of change (call centers, customer care/support, sales reps, etc.) in order to make the right decisions at the right time. And without access to unified data in the moment of interaction, they struggle to provide the personalized experience customers today expect and demand (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Siloed customer data leads to customers becoming frustrated at different points in their interactions with a brand and makes it difficult for agents to effectively serve them.Figure 3: Siloed customer data leads to customers becoming frustrated at different points in their interactions with a brand and makes it difficult for agents to effectively serve them.

Other barriers to effectively leveraging customer data

Customer data is fragmented because it exists in data siloes throughout the enterprise. As Figure 1 illustrates, when customer data is separated by channels and split across teams, the multiple types of customer identity that the different data sets contain remain unlinked, making it impossible to see the whole picture. Brands that consider the prospect of defining, building, maintaining, and enhancing a homegrown solution face a pretty heavy lift. And while there are a number of point solutions on the market that promise to unify customer data, they only partially deliver on those promises and lack the ability to scale. Enterprises require a solution that not only unifies and activates their customer data, but one that can also scale and evolve over time as their needs grow and change.

Enterprises also have other barriers to overcome in order to effectively leverage their customer data:

  • No real-time intelligence: In most enterprises today, behavioral data lives in systems that lack robust real-time activation capabilities. With no ability for real-time profile access, an enterprise is unable to leverage customer data in the moment, which results in lost opportunities.
  • No true data integration: As tech stacks optimize and evolve, their complexity grows as well. Absent an API-first approach, APIs often fail to offer all the features of the technologies they are built for, leaving users unable to take actions they need that would otherwise be possible.
  • No predictive insight: Most analysis and insights based on customer data happen well after the customer engagement, limiting the ability of an enterprise to optimize and operationalize its data in real-time. With siloed data and point solutions that don’t talk to each other, coordinating the efforts of multiple teams to optimize their data to identify the next best action is highly complex.
  • Incomplete feedback loop: Enterprises collect a wealth of customer data that in sufficient volumes can reveal patterns and provide valuable insights. However, without the ability to unify customer behavior data at all points of interaction — the customer’s actions prior to, during, and after engaging with the brand — surfacing and leveraging those insights remains impossible.

Developing a truly unified profile of the customer remains elusive because every customer is tracked separately in each channel as a unique visitor for every interaction across different devices and properties. When a conversion happens, it is attributed to only one channel. That attribution does not accurately represent the complete customer journey and all of the channels that may have been involved along the way. The information shared with downstream systems is incomplete. As a result, the customer has inconsistent experiences across devices and people interacting directly with customers in real-time have a harder time providing assistance when needed.

Developing a unified profile in real-time with Adobe Experience Platform

Adobe Experience Platform solves the problem of fragmented data and helps businesses overcome other barriers to effective customer engagement with Real-time Customer Profile — a service that ingests data from multiple sources and maps it to Adobe Experience Platform’s Experience Data Model (XDM) schema allowing enterprises to better integrate and leverage it.

Figure 4: Illustration of how Adobe Experience Platform unifies data from across channels and devices allowing enterprises to deliver consistent customer experiences with enhanced personalization in real-time.Figure 4: Illustration of how Adobe Experience Platform unifies data from across channels and devices allowing enterprises to deliver consistent customer experiences with enhanced personalization in real-time.

Adobe Experience Platform’s Real-time Customer Profile provides the ability to unify siloed data across the enterprise to develop a 360-degree view of its customers. It simplifies the delivery and maintenance of customer profiles for IT teams, providing:

Figure 5: Adobe Experience Platform unifies customer data, empowering agents and sales teams to deliver better customer experiences.Figure 5: Adobe Experience Platform unifies customer data, empowering agents and sales teams to deliver better customer experiences.

When you build your application on top of Adobe Experience Platform’s Real-time Customer Profile, your customer is seen as a single “person” no matter how many channels or devices she uses to interact with your brand. No matter where a conversion event takes place, it is properly attributed to all the correct channels that were involved. The customer profile is updated in real-time and shared with downstream systems, allowing enhanced personalization based on events and interactions that just took place.

Now, when the customer calls into your call center with a question, the agent can see a holistic view of that customer across all channels giving the agent a full understanding of the customer’s entire journey with the brand up to that moment. This data empowers the agent to more quickly resolve the customer’s problem, which significantly increases customer satisfaction and the likelihood she will continue to shop with the company in the future.

Customer Activity Hub — a blueprint for builders of extraordinary customer experiences

Adobe has created an internal application built on Experience Platform called Customer Activity Hub. It is a great example of how enterprises can use Real-time Customer Profile to unify their data to provide personalized customer experiences. Customer Activity Hub is an implementation that provides Adobe’s customer service and sales agents instant access to full and unified profiles of the customers they are interacting within the moment.

The Customer Activity Hub blueprint is the newest in Adobe Experience Platform’s series of Digital Experience Blueprints designed to help our customers improve their digital transformation strategy and implementations. Digital Experience Blueprints help CIOs, CTOs, technologists, and developers clearly understand how they can accelerate time to value by deploying Adobe Experience Cloud technologies using proven, repeatable implementations.

With our Customer Activity Hub Blueprint you can learn how to quickly build a similar application for your customer service and sales teams with Adobe Experience Platform’s Real-time Customer Profile. This blueprint also makes it easy to adapt our integration for Customer Activity Hub to fit your own unique use cases building enhanced personalization in real-time across your own applications that require the use of customer data across multiple channels and devices.

Like our Blueprints for audience activation, web and mobile personalization and multi-channel message orchestration, the Customer Activity Hub offers a fast path to implementation success with an architecture developed, vetted, and tested by Adobe’s product and engineering staff.

Figure 6: Customer Activity Hub architecture.Figure 6: Customer Activity Hub architecture.

You can find all the prerequisites for implementing the Customer Activity Hub, along with information on the operational activity required and additional factors to consider at Adobe’s Experience League, including:

A fast, proven path toward more satisfying customer experiences

Adobe Experience Platform Digital Experience Blueprint for Customer Activity Hub offers a fast and proven path for enterprises that want to build more personalized and satisfying in-person and online experiences for their customers in real-time. The Customer Activity Hub Blueprint is part of a growing library of Blueprints that are helping brands deliver all-new levels of customer service and personalized experiences. Check out the links below to learn more about what you can do with Adobe Experience Platform.

Follow the Adobe Experience Platform Community Blog  for more developer stories and resources, and check out Adobe Developers on Twitter for the latest news and developer products. Sign up here for future Adobe Experience Platform Meetups.

Technical References

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Originally published: Jun 3, 2021