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Next Best Experiences: The Next Big Thing in Marketing

Ask any marketing executive what drives their decision-making, and they’ll tell you it’s their customers. They may say they’re customer-focused, customer-centric or even customer-obsessed, but the idea is the same. Yet, somewhere between decision and action, the customer often gets lost. The customer experience gets obscured by business objectives, and marketers are left somewhere in the middle between making their customers happy and making their numbers.

The fact is that marketing strategies, up until now, have largely failed the customer. They began by identifying the next best product, then the next best offer and, most recently, the next best action. But each of those are inside-out perspectives. What customers are most interested in are experiences, and the most successful brands will be those that can predict and deliver next best experiences (NBX).

What is a next best experience? In their groundbreaking report, “Come Together (Right Now) To Deliver The Next Best Experience,” Forrester Research, Inc., April 3, 2019, Forrester defined it as “the ability to identify and deliver the right experience to the right customer in real-time based on everything you know about the customer.” In other words, next best experience collects and analyzes signals across the entire customer journey from all touchpoints to create a holistic view of the customer, rather than a snapshot of their experience with a particular group.

Shifting to an NBX strategy isn’t simply a matter of pulling all your data into one pile. Many of the challenges that prevent brands from identifying and delivering next best experiences are operationally entrenched in the business. Forrester explains:

  • They think in terms of business objectives rather than customer objectives.
  • Each group (e.g., marketing, sales, customer service) is using different metrics to measure success.
  • These groups are also viewing the customer experience through their own lens rather than seeing the bigger picture.

Of course, having the right data is essential to building an effective NBX campaign, but so is having the right metrics. Today, most groups within an organization have their own “favorite” metrics. It might be customer churn, lookalike audiences, behavioral segmentation or something else. What brands need to do is select an overarching metric that everyone can align around, such as customer lifetime value. By choosing next best experiences based on CLV outcomes, for example, a business might find that behavior that scores low on one metric (e.g., high call volumes into the call center) could actually have a much more positive impact on CLV.

Maybe you’ve already decided that NBX is the next big initiative in your business. And while that’s great, it’s just the beginning. There are a lot of things that businesses need to do to make NBX work, and they may be very different from the way you work today. A few examples include:

  • New metrics. Some forward-thinking brands are now beginning to measure things like customer emotion by using video and audio analytics to register facial expressions or the tone of a caller’s voice.
  • New roles. NBX will have a transformative effect on the way that companies organize their departments and roles. You may see traditional roles such as product manager, for example, morph into customer experience managers.
  • Openness to failure. It’s not in human nature to want to fail, but it can be beneficial to brands, particularly when machine learning tools are used to turn that failure into customer knowledge.
  • Testing your champions. In the past, brands looked for the champion experience—the one that delivered the best of all outcomes. With NBX, brands need to test those champions rather than become complacent, as a new champion might be hiding around the corner.

While NBX is a different path than previous analytic methods, the goal remains the same: to deliver great customer experiences. What has changed are the tools and technologies now available to achieve that goal, from artificial intelligence to customer data platforms. For the first time, organizations can truly work together as a united team to deliver consistent, customized experiences to their customers. And isn’t that what we’ve all been talking about for years?

To learn more about Next Best Experience, download the Forrester report.