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Customer given, data driven:
The insights-led journey that creates advocates from customers

Road through mountains

Customer given, data driven

Competition for customers is intensifying. Perfecting the moments that matter in your customer experience communicates the value of the relationship and earns their loyalty.

Winning a new customer is only the start. The next step is to secure their loyalty with a customer experience that anticipates and exceeds their needs, turning them into an advocate for your brand. The trouble is that intense competition, combined with an increased willingness among consumers to try new offerings, means that earning customers’ loyalty is tougher than ever. 

Research published in December 2021 confirmed what businesses may already have suspected: 60% of US consumers developed new purchasing habits during the pandemic. For nearly half, this included trying a new retailer or brand. And for more than one in three, it meant trying out a new digital channel. Now, with the cost of living crisis weighing on consumer spending, competition for customers online is intensifying. 

In September 2022, the UK’s Data and Marketing Association found that 41% of consumers felt less loyal to brands than they did a year before. Unless they have the lowest prices, businesses will need to earn and keep their customers’ loyalty in other ways.

Consumers will switch unless brands can meet their expectations and anticipate their needs in those moments that matter.

In this competitive climate, companies that cannot delight customers with intelligent experiences will suffer, warns Mona Champaneri, managing director for experience and product at Kin + Carta Americas. Next-day delivery and intelligent recommendations are ‘table stakes’ in the modern customer experience, she says, and buyers increasingly expect more personalisation and tailored experiences. 

With customers switching between brands and channels with ease, companies might wonder what happened to the notion of customer loyalty. But they need to put themselves in their customers’ shoes, says Champaneri. “Consumers know what they want. It’s up to companies to leverage data from purchase behaviours and product attributes to make intelligent experiences and offers.”

“Consumers know they have greater choice now and will switch unless brands can meet their expectations and anticipate their needs in those moments that make the difference between a one-time user and a brand advocate.” 

These ‘moments that matter’ are the critical touchpoints where a customer’s loyalty can be secured by signalling that you understand them and by making their life easier. Perfect these and customers will become advocates. “You build trust by saying ‘we know you’ and then adding value,” Champaneri explains. Building consumer loyalty through intelligent experiences can also help counteract competitive pressure to cut prices, making a clear case for investing in innovation.

But doing so requires a deeper understanding of your customers than simple demographic profiling. “You can only do this when you go beyond demographic data, such as gender, age or location,” says Champaneri. “You need to delve deeper, to learn their behaviour so you can anticipate their needs and meet them without having to be asked.”

Moments that matter

Imagine that you have the choice of two taxi-hailing apps. One requires you to put in every detail for each journey while the other learns your travel patterns and can anticipate where you want to go. The first requires repetitive effort, while the latter offers you a predetermined route at the touch of a button. Faced with this choice, which would you use?

The opportunities are not confined to consumer-facing apps. Global agribusiness Syngenta Group is using a human-centric approach to help farmers grapple with complex decisions over seed and crop protection, against a backdrop of dramatic shifts in the global climate.

Syngenta’s Golden Harvest Experience (GHX) combines the total grower experience from purchasing to product placement of hybrids. To do so, it leverages data from individual customers with internal information about how its products perform in various growing conditions, explains Jeremy Groeteke, the company’s head of computational agronomy.

The platform allows Syngenta and its Golden Harvest advisers to give customers guidance on product placement and management, while being able to monitor their performance throughout the growing season, and on which herbicide, fungicide and pesticide treatments are best suited to their soil and weather conditions.

“Our analytics tools mean we can be proactive rather than reactive,” Groeteke explains. “It’s good for them because it helps to maximise yield and that means it’s good for us because our products have been used at the right time to get the best result. We’re seeing very positive results from the service in terms of customer loyalty.”

Road through mountains
You build trust by saying ‘we know you’ and then adding value.

Cut the form filling

Some intelligent experiences, such as Syngenta’s GHX, earn customers’ loyalty with insight that wasn’t previously available. Others do so by taking the effort out of transactions. US start-up Embedded Insurance (EI), is about to launch its platform in the US that takes the friction out of buying insurance. 

Working with major brands, EI enables the distribution of insurance at the point of need by partnering with distributors and insurers in real time, making the process convenient and, more importantly, trustworthy for consumers.

“Our platform uses data to offer an instant insurance quote which can be accepted on the spot,” explains EI’s co-founder Chris Slater. 

This is just one example of how hassle- free, data-driven insurance could help businesses earn their customers’ loyalty, says Slater. Other opportunities include selling personal cyber insurance along with anti-virus software, he says, or insuring carbon credits – a service that businesses may not even recognise that they need.

You need to start by building a customer data model. A lot of the time, customer attributes are lost because they’re distributed across different touchpoints.

From loyalty to advocacy 

These experiences all present an opportunity to win customer loyalty by anticipating their needs in the moments that matter and meeting them effortlessly.

Beyond loyalty lies the willingness of a customer to advocate for your brand. Achieving this, says Mark Collin, managing director of experience and product at Kin + Carta Europe, requires a detailed understanding of customers’ intent and their progression on the journey towards becoming a brand advocate.

 This requires that the most important customer interactions are recorded in the same place. “You need to start by building a customer data model,” says Collin, who was previously the global customer experience technology director at luxury online retailer YOOX Net-a-Porter Group.

“A lot of the time, customer attributes are lost because they’re distributed across different touchpoints, such as website activity, chatbot transcripts or in-store interactions.”

“You need to bring these together so you can look at the customer’s signals to work out where they are now and determine moments in which you can add value.”

Once this unified customer data model is in place, companies can begin to work on creating intelligent experiences. According to Champaneri, this starts with mapping out customer journeys to identify the roadblocks that cause people to quit before taking further action and the moments that lead to greater Engagement. 

This will reveal which message, notification or call to action would be the most impactful at each part of the customer journey, whether it is a timely prompt with some helpful information or a recommendation for a complementary product or service. It will also show where in the journey customers need help making the next move.

With constant improvement through experimentation at scale, businesses will be able to identify the messages and offers that have the most success in pushing customers through to the next stage of repeat business and then loyalty. 

This process is, of course, empowered by technology. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, for example, can provide customers with context- relevant recommendations, while human experience management systems allow businesses to experiment with moments that matter and measure their impact. 

But creating brand advocates takes more than technology. In many cases, creating a single view of the customer – and being able to act on it – requires businesses to tear down organisational siloes. In particular, says Collin, the “coalescing between marketing and digital teams” allows fragmented customer views to be joined up so that critical touchpoints can be identified, intelligent experiences delivered, and customers converted to advocates.


  • Step it up. Customers’ expectations for online experiences have advanced during the pandemic and standard features will no longer make an impression. The onus is on brands to provide intelligent experiences that anticipate an individual’s needs in real-time, offering them the help they need, when they need it. 

  • Identify the moments that matter. Customer experiences are made up of hundreds of brief moments, each of which has the potential to earn a customer’s loyalty. Anticipating and perfecting these moments signals that you understand and care about customers’ needs. 

  • Connect the dots. These moments cannot be identified, let alone transformed, if customer interactions are scattered across systems and organisational siloes. Unifying customer data into a single view can reveal to marketing, customer experience and service design teams where helpful interactions can be added to the customer journey.

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This article originally appeared in Thread, Edition 3. Thread is Kin + Carta’s quarterly magazine that cuts through the complexity of digital transformation. Making sustainable change real, achievable and attainable. 


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