The last decade taught us a lot about chasing digital shiny objects: the maturation of digital technologies, the unprecedented explosion of consumer adoption of smart-mobile handsets, and the global penetration of Facebook and subsequent social applications kept marketers off balance and bouncing on and off of the topic of the hour.

Check with me in three years, but I feel that we’re finally at the point where the totality of change allows for marketers and marketing technologists to focus holistically on customer experience.

Holistic customer experience transforms every interaction with relevance and consistency. Rather than speaking of multi-channel or omni-channel, the concept of channel is so seamless that consumers don’t even contemplate the once siloed vestige of parallel teams, incongruent investments, and awkward connections that only remind us of last decade’s journey. Today, we can envision a customer experience where loyalty is a function of total satisfaction that results from anticipation, recognition, and convenience.

Four years ago, working with a great team from RazorFish, we identified six elements of digital engagement that were the highest contributors to customer loyalty: relevance, value, consistency, efficiency, control, and trust. With a few years of digital transformation behind us and a shift of vision from customer loyalty to customer experience (frankly, it’s impossible to separate the two), those elements are as (or more) insightful than when we first published the results.

A Fast Data vision is the platform for delivering an incredible, loyalty-driving customer experience that aligns explicitly to the six elements.

Relevance—To a large extent, the output of predictive analytics is the explicit ability to use historic data to predict the future based on every individual’s patterns of purchase and the extendable behavior of people like them. But increasingly, relevance is about complex decision rules that are the function of balancing real-time data integration that extends context to location, browsing, and social engagement.

Value—High-value customers expect to be recognized and acknowledged. Where brands employ loyalty programs, the added bonus of rewards and explicit benefits is nice to have. The real secret to customer experience is the continuous expression of heightened touch that comes from deep analytic insights and the means of empowering people through digital connectivity to deliver this level of service.

Consistency—I mentioned the end of multi-channel and the emergence of channel agnostic. It’s not that channels and their underlying infrastructure are going away—it’s a digital destination goal that allows every customer interaction to reflect the most current information to connect channel-to-channel with lightning speed and to allow the customer to forget both process and constraint of loosely connected channels. This is not merely integration, this is interconnectivity. Think about the last time that you added a suggested book to your Amazon wish list on your phone, purchased it with one-click ordering from your computer and downloaded it to your Kindle. No friction, no time, no mistakes.

Efficiency—While there are many important exceptions, given the choice of people-constrained service and digitally driven self-enablement, consumers increasingly opt for speed and convenience. Wouldn’t you rather look to your iPhone to see your select your airline seat, see your position on the upgrade list or estimate the times of departure and arrival than stand in line at the desk or wait for a reservations agent?

Control—We hear this more and more: consumers want the ability to customize and optimize their customer experience. It may be frequency of contact, the extent of what they’re willing to share on social media, or the ability to genuinely shape what they feel is relevant to their needs. Customer experience is more and more in the eyes and perceptions of customers themselves.

Trust—Trust is not only an output of customer experience but also an element of that experience. Trust develops from rapid and truthful response to social media sentiment. Trust is buoyed by protection of personal information. Trust derives from providing information, not noise, value, not advertising. Airlines, once the epitome of marginal information, are in the midst of taking the giant leap to use their vast information to demonstrate transparency in aircraft location, baggage connections and seat availability. When we are confident in information, we at least understand the circumstances, which has a significant impact on our experience.

Next time, we’ll dive even more deeply into the idea of control and how top companies’ digital destinations reflect what is stored, what is derived, and what is explicitly liked and disliked by their customers. In the meantime, attend for our Destination: Digital series of roundtable webinars to explore the business and technology requirements, best practices, and fast-track steps for transforming to Digital Business. Learn more and register here.

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