As the Senior Digital Experience Strategist at Canadian operator Rogers Communications, Lindsey Omelon build on her years of marketing experience to approach her strategy with a hybrid product and customer mindset. She is responsible for the ideation, conceptualization and delivery of sophisticated and innovative eCommerce experiences, and for being an advocate for the customer in conversations with cross-disciplinary teams and company leaders.
In this exclusive interview, Omelon breaks down why the customer digital experience is so key, and how emerging technologies are presenting new opportunities, and challenges, to both B2B and B2C businesses today.
Broadband World Forum (BBWF): Why is the 'customer digital experience' of such a paramount priority to businesses today?
Lindsey Omelon (LO): Brands, especially in the eCommerce space, can often feel like a one-way channel -- an entity sending messages out to customers, be it through publicity, marketing, or branding. But today, we are so digitally connected that once the 2D understanding of a company changes, the customer can be part of it, they can interact with it in so many ways. It comes to life.
The key concept here is that there are now so many ways in which a company can come to life through the digital experience -- which is why building those experiences to be customer-centric is so important. Businesses want to ensure that through these channels, the interactions are meaningful to the customer, whether that be by simplification, personalization, proactivity, or self-serve. The technological landscape has primed us all to believe in a world where we should have access to what we want, the moment we need it. Businesses need to get ahead of when these moments may arise, and build from the outside in -- experience-driven design.
At Rogers, we have an entire strategy that focuses on bringing together areas across the organization -- digital, marketing, pricing, product, data, and more -- in order to create a full view of the customer, and action on that data in the most effective way. That might mean informing new product development, messaging to our base with loyalty offers, or learning through consumer behavior how and when to speak to prospects. The work is continuous, reflective of an ever-changing ecosystem, which makes it so exciting to be part of the digital organization -- a key player in the synchronizing of customer experiences.
Lindsey Omelon, Senior Digital Experience Strategist at Rogers Communications.
BBWF: How are emerging technologies such as AI and ML (machine learning) transforming this customer digital experience?
LO: There are four strategic areas in building experiences around the customer: Systems of Record; Systems of Intelligence; Systems of Engagement; and Systems of Things. In other words: The data needed to solve a problem; the approach to solving the problem; the mechanism of delivering the solution or service; and the touch point that collects and communicates information.
ML and AI are part of the intelligence layer and are becoming more and more widely used in enabling the customer-first experience by analyzing, predicting and contextualizing data to infer customer intent. Forward-thinking companies use these data-driven approaches to better understand their customers, enable strong lead generation and conversion, drive personalization, streamline processes and ultimately create convenient and sophisticated journeys.
Through these capabilities, businesses can ensure that their customers see the most relevant content, creative, products, offer and calls to action in every interaction. And, to effectively target that moment of truth for the customer, these capabilities rely on real-time customer data, a variety of content to meet customer needs, and the models and rules for matching content to the customer context.
BBWF: In your experience, does this differ between B2B and B2C businesses?
LO: The approach to implementing AI/ML capabilities in your customer experience will differ for B2B and B2C. Firstly, there is likely to be more complexity around risk and privacy. In the digital age, customers are accustomed to companies tracking cookies to uplift the experience or to enhance their targeting strategies, whether they understand how it's being done or not: It's simply a part of the connected life.
On the other hand, B2B agreements may have varying regulation around how their data may be used, which means that an AI model may not be able to effectively scale. On top of that, is the varying risk across businesses on testing and experimentation; different clients in a B2B model may have different requirements around PII [Personally Identifiable Information] and masking data. Further, strong AI/ML models rely on rich data sets and volume.
A B2C company, such as one of the FANGs of the world, will have billions of customers using their services and providing data daily, versus a B2B company which may only have a few large clients upon which to base models. The bottom line is -- more data means increased chance of finding patterns.
BBWF: How can organisations remain relevant in today's evolving world?
LO: By being customer-obsessed. Customers are, and should be at, the center of every decision made, and that customer may range from consumers, businesses, end users, developers and so on. They are why the business thrives: The model of 'make and they shall come' is no longer the way. Customers have choice, and increasingly have more opportunity to curate what they consume to be fit-for-purpose for their lives with so many options available. With that, product and service definition begins with defining specifically the customers' problems and goals, before even planning the offering.
This customer-driven model relies heavily on customer and business intelligence. So techniques such as data mining and exploration and building models with a feedback loop are key, so that products and services can be as dynamic as our customers. And on top of that, data is only as good as a company's ability to act on it. Building flexible software practices -- from the culture to the technology -- puts an emphasis on speed, convenience, and product standards, which are all foundational in the rapidly shifting ecosystem of today.
Rogers is undergoing a massive technological transformation in order to better enable a customer-first approach. We are moving more and more towards cloud-based and data streaming services and are adopting key strategies that are more often found in companies born in the cloud. We've successfully stood up a new cloud environment that provides the build, deploy and run of digital applications. Our Digital organization puts a priority on unifying data to fuel intelligent orchestration capabilities that will support a customer's end-to-end journey, whether they are browsing, about to buy, or require support.
With so many marketplaces providing similar products and services, it's the differentiated experience that will give the company its competitive edge. Customers are constantly provided with new information to compare their experiences across companies, and in the end, they will reward the ones that satisfy their expectations.
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— Francesca Greane, Marketing, Content and Community Lead, Informa Tech, for Broadband World News.