The Highlander Principle of marketing: One customer brain

How one customer brain creates a coordinated customer experience
"There can be only one customer brain. Your customer intelligence cannot reside in multiple brains in each channel, but needs to be unified and coordinate journeys across channels."

Most of the customers I speak to now are looking for ways to make their marketing efforts more effective and their customers’ experiences more relevant, rewarding, and valuable. It is now almost universally accepted that the old methods of engaging with customers through mass outbound communications are failing in this regard. Response rates are vanishingly small because most bulk communications are utterly irrelevant to the majority of customers. Marketing departments are often targeted on the volume of communications they can make to customers, regardless of the relevance or success. In short, companies have become very good at training their customers to ignore them.

For a few years now, efforts have been made to improve relevancy and engagement through adding intelligence into each channel interaction. Segmentation, AI, and personalization strategies are used to better target messages at customers. Emails need not be identical, but can contain personalized elements. Webpages can contain targeted banners, text, and calls to action. Call center agents can be prompted with specific offers from CRM systems.

There are many vendors who specialize in creating intelligent, targeted content through channel-specific applications. And when implemented, valuable uplift occurs in offer acceptance, click-throughs, and engagement. There are good reasons for this. Whilst CRM systems may provide good knowledge of a customer to help personalize messages and offers, very often the best source of intelligence comes from gathering the context of the customer in the channel. If we know what the customer is doing right now, what they are asking or looking for, or can infer it from their digital behavior, we can better personalize their experience. Real-time context matters.

Contextual data drives relevancy.

Contextual data is then the rocket fuel of personalization. But businesses are now realizing it’s not enough to be just “of the moment” in the current channel.

Customers do not just interact on one channel when making a purchase or chasing a service request. They go on their own journeys, which may be difficult to predict, across their devices and channels at their own speed. If we have all these channels working independently, trying to nudge customers in different directions, then confusion and incoherence results. We do not want to offer a credit card on the web when the customer was in a branch yesterday discussing mortgages. We should not be sending emails with the latest offers when their last product is being repaired or replaced. In short, each channel needs to be aware of every other channel and work together to create consistent experiences. Digital channels need to be joined up with stores and branches. Messages in mobile apps need to be congruous with outbound email. Paid and social media needs to respond in real time to what customers are doing in an organization’s owned channels.

However, businesses are now realizing their marketing architecture makes this hard. Joining up channels is expensive with all these competing channel intelligences. It is just too difficult to shunt the data around across channel silos in a timely way, share and maintain rules and predictive models, and understand customer history and events. Customers move between channels in real-time. Their data and history does not.

“There can be only one.”

This is where the Highlander Principle needs to come in. The 1986 Christopher Lambert film about Scottish warrior immortals told us “there can be only one” immortal to rule the world. While there are many, they will compete and fight with each other. And so it is with “customer brains.” With many intelligences fighting to get the attention of the customer, your world will be one of chaos and confusion. There can be only one customer brain. Your customer intelligence cannot reside in multiple brains in each channel, but needs to be unified and coordinate journeys across all channels.

With a single brain, we have one customer authority. There is one central and shared intelligence that decides on the next best action for that individual customer. The single brain is not just directing each channel, but is also aware of what has been happening in each channel in real time. It listens to the customer no matter where they might be, remembers what the customer has done, knows the customer’s details intimately, understands their intent, predicts their future, and arbitrates over all possible actions to decide which action makes the most business sense right now. The result is a coherent set of messages across customer journeys, channels, and interactions that guides and nudges the customer to an optimal outcome.

Pega customers who have implemented the Pega® Customer Decision Hub across multiple channels to create joined-up journeys are now seeing remarkable results.

  • Transavia, the “Netherlands' friendly airline,” uses the Customer Decision Hub to provide each passenger with a contextual, consistent experience. Pega provides an intelligent interaction platform to break down organizational silos and sufficiently equip employees at all customer touch points to make smart decisions based on relevant data.
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland has joined up 18 channels for its 17 million customers, and supports over a hundred customer journeys with the Customer Decision Hub. They have seen a 20 percent increase in mortgage retention, a web-to-branch transition increase from zero percent to 40 percent, and a 10-1 ROI from this approach in 2015.
  • Sprint, a U.S. tier one carrier serving 60 million customers, saw a 10 percent reduction in customer churn and a 40 percent increase in transactional NPS using next-best-action retention offers from the Customer Decision Hub.

Pega customers who are following the Highlander Principle – putting the customer at the heart of their business and coordinating their journeys with a unified Customer Decision Hub – are setting the standard for customer engagement.


LEARN MORE: Read how Pega uses a single, intelligent decision authority to unify decision management consistently and coherently across all channels.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pega’s Dr. Andy Lewis, a principal solutions consultant for AI and decisioning, is changing the world for the better through real-time, contextual, AI-driven next-best-action conversations.