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sales and marketing alignment

5 Examples of Connected Customer Experiences That Work

What are connected customer experiences? These are customer journeys that run across company boundaries, and are not limited to the traditional way of creating interactions with our own company’s channels. The focus needs to be on customers’ broader aspirations – what “they” want, and what they are NOT getting. So these experiences are developed with an outside-in approach.

Here are 5 simple but amazing examples of connected customer experiences (there are others but I just picked five to keep this post brief). These are across multiple businesses (some old and some new). Hope they get your creative juices flowing because the opportunities are plentiful. When you’re done reading, apply the concepts to your own customer engagement approach.

HorizonbFit469496165_6401. Your fitness and insurance:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ partnered with Lifetime fitness to make it easier for customers to quantify their fitness in terms of actual dollars. The end result was that customers who exercised paid less for insurance. A win-win arrangement! Delivering this experience to customers couldn’t have been easy. But they doubled down on what the customer wants to create a mutually rewarding proposition. Similar plans are offered by most insurance companies now. All that’s needed (yes, its old school in 2019) is a mobile app that tracks steps and location using GPS and pre-approved locations. Such collaboration between two organizations is now a breeze. It can be delivered easily using DLT / blockchain that enable common but privacy preserving business processes. And when that happens, it will allow other industries to join the party as well – food, recreation etc.

wellsfargo-xero2. Banking that makes your taxes easy

Wells Fargo was one of the first banks to use APIs and partner with Xero, an accounting software. Ever had trouble pulling in your account statements while doing your taxes? This mutually rewarding business relationship puts an end to that by putting customers first. There’s a lot more that can be done here but it’s a nice start. In fact, the open banking phenomenon is sweeping throughout the industry – the UK has even actually mandated it. As the thinking evolves, expect amazing customer experiences and journeys to surface. The key to success here will be to go beyond exposing and monetizing banking data. Think of the customer instead and create experiences that are 2-way in nature. And as this opens up, an ecosystem of financial well-being can be created.

alphabank3. Health is wealth, literally

Speaking of open banking, this Russian bank launched a program that gives you more savings when you do things that are good for you, such as being more active. Its a win win. You get to exercise and become wealthier, while the bank enjoys higher account balances. In fact, FitnessBank in the US launched with exactly the same premise, while Emirates NBD was another bank to do it. The important thing to keep in mind is the concept of customer focus. Whether fitness will be a driving factor for banking strategy is a moot point because everything else is a commodity anyway. The sky is the limit for your imagination here – we can even connect this with the health insurance ecosystem. While currently both banks and customers have to go through multiple hoops to make this data transfer happen, new technology will make it much easier for this collaboration to be seamless with rewards coming not only from banks but from many other types of companies. Icing on the cake – customers can finally monetize their data!

bn-starbucks4. Coffee while you shop

This one is a pleasant blast from the past. If we can’t find the time anymore to take a break and enjoy the wonderful environment at Barnes & Noble, the thought of a free Starbucks coffee with the new BN membership card might make it easier. The book collection is amazing as always, and the toys section is a bonus for the entire family (much needed now that ToysRUs is out),. All we need now is a resurgence of online content, focus on local community, more partnerships for media and retail, and a website that can hold its own again the ecosystem that is Amazon Prime.

travel-experiences5. Travel for experiences, not just destinations

Gone are the days when we launched our vacation and had to plan everything to the last detail. Now curated and deeply immersive experiences are being offered by hotels in partnership with locals around the world. Amazing as it is, presently this is not much different from just offers on a marketplace with big brands acting as channels for local entrepreneurs. However, technology will soon make it much easier to share information privately and securely thus making the customer experiences even more immersive. There’s no reason that a bunch of businesses cannot work together with the customer during every phase of their travel journey.

These examples are from different time eras to show that customers are always waiting for you to innovate. And like most big shifts in business you’ll have to look outside-in at your business, or just look at what new entrants and your competition are doing to shake it up.

I refer to these ecosystems of independent companies as digital conglomerates of the future. Good news is that technology is finally here to help you develop these connected customer experiences with much less pain than was possible till even a few years ago. The current model of affiliate like one-off programs promises to be much more integrated. For example, combining both APIs and DLT/blockchain (DLT = Distributed Ledger Technology), business can share data without sacrificing customer privacy and confidentiality – imagine a business process that runs across businesses!

To make all this happen, we’ll need to step out of our traditional identities. And the current model of point based loyalty programs should be upgraded to loyalty based on experiences and aspirations.

That’s where the economy is headed now. So it is important to not lose sight of connected customer experiences in our digital roadmap.

Your thoughts are welcome. Please share them here or on Twitter by tagging me @manishgrover.

The #1 Secret to B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment That No One Tells You About

Sales and marketing alignment in the enterprise space (aka complex sales) is tough to achieve. Yet, organizations that can do that show a whopping 36% higher retention rate(3), and an even higher sales win rates of 38%(4) overall. That’s fascinating. And although this study was not entirely focused on complex B2B sales, these are still meaningful numbers.

However, as any practitioner knows, there are complex factors at play, and many of them are not just about process and data. If it was easy, everyone would do it. So for this post I’m taking a different approach. I’ll highlight what I believe is a fundamental underlying issue and and I’ll show you how to address it without having to boil the ocean.

sales and marketing alignmentFirst, let me come right out with it before we examine the background and strategies to solve the equation.

The secret is … … … during planning, both sales and marketing forget (or ignore) what is bringing home the moolah right now (or soon), and how they can drive it together. We don’t build from the foundations. Instead we dream from the top down.

I’ve been there too.

Here’s how it normally goes down. At the beginning of the year, both sales and marketing agree on how they can work better together. They set lofty goals, agree on what a qualified lead is, and determine what the journey should look like on both sides. They develop key buyer personas and brand messages. They come clean with each other and clear the air on what has happened in the past. And finally someone always sprinkles in some sexy marketing automation pixie dust to top it all off.

Sounds familiar? This strategic planning looks, sounds and feels great. The sales and marketing alignment sessions lead to a spirited launch of a new program. Happy new year everyone!

But then it falls apart. The presentations and journey maps are forgotten, only to be picked up when everyone has less pressing issues at hand (hint: these issues are about making money, exactly the purpose for which the exercise was started).

That’s because we try to start top down. In addition, marketing often think in terms of “changing the conversation”, or are unduly influenced by the promises of database marketing automation that are difficult to achieve (hint: don’t let anyone who hasn’t done it make the plan…e.g. sales people). On the other hand, sales has a different set of challenges. These range from competitive advances,  meeting short term targets, aligning multiple client stakeholders, to being able to price and position the product and / or services (hint: same as before but replace sales with marketing).

In the end, this simple but well-intended misalignment ends up with both teams looking to satisfy and meet two different sets of objectives. They seem to be working together, but they actually don’t, and won’t.

I think you will identify with the above. I’ve been through all this countless times. Having played both roles before – as a sales lead and also as a marketing lead – I often successfully managed to ignore this secret myself.

So the secret to sales and marketing alignment that works is….during joint planning, both sales and marketing should not forget (or ignore) what is bringing home the moolah right now, and how they can drive it together.

But what do they do instead: (it’s natural so don’t be embarrassed):

  • They focus on what should be, rather than focus on what is and how to expand it. What’s going to bring in the revenue this quarter is not necessarily sexy in the enterprise space
  • They try to reach the destination instantly. However, just as it takes time to change gears and client perceptions, it also takes time to modify outreach capabilities, and have conversations differently with (different) clients. Have you ever wondered how the same dated messages get presented even when you have decided to modify them – it’s called inertia and comfort zone of the field.
  • Both sides forget that they have have limited time to be integrated, tailored and customized. Regardless of the level of sales and marketing automation you put in, ultimately you need to qualify, pursue, and sell in person. As soon as that deal seems likely, everything else takes a back seat.

And through a thousand such cuts, the sales and marketing alignment ambition gradually takes a backseat. The metrics that each of wants to measure start diverging, and become less and less relevant to the other.

In fact, this is the familiar story of marketing RoI and sales performance.

So here’s an approach that can help you overcome this challenge. First and foremost, analyze the pipeline for deals that have happened, and those that are high on the sales radar in the immediate future. Don’t discount them in favor of the ideal that should be. Acknowledge the client interest in what you have, and all the effort that has gone in to make that happen.

And then focus on improving and expanding. Try to improve the probability of deal conversions, and expand the impact with a defined game plan around client engagement. The Principle of Customer Interaction is a good one to remember – connect your emotional branding with the physical interactions.

Because at the end of the day, sales will always put less(er) emphasis on what can be, versus what will help them close the next couple of quarters positively. And if marketing is focusing only on the big picture, that picture will always remain lopsided. Sales and marketing alignment will remain a dream, propped up by one-off success stories. And long term positioning suffers.

Simply ground your action plan on the following 5 strategies:

  1. Plug the Gaps: Focus on closing better what sales want to close soon – even if it doesn’t seem sexy. Marketing is best positioned to translate the org strategy and capabilities to support these short term priorities. You’ll be surprised at the number of gaps you will identify that can provide solid air cover – collateral, references, case studies, 3rd party support, pursuit marketing, client showcase, awareness of a specific capability and so on. This applies to new business development too.
  2. Insert Strategic Objectives: How clients perceive you depends on what you sell to them today, not what you have on your website. So make the current portfolio the starting point of the big picture, and begin the life-cycle of awareness to closure from there, not independently. Ultimately, most stories can be distilled into a problem of cross-sell and up-sell. So translate it that way. It can start with inserting messaging about larger customer’s goals (Principle of External Reinforcement), integrating the value proposition of various parts of your portfolio (Principle of Presenting) , and expanding what you have to offer through your partners (Principle of Completion).
  3. Live in the Other’s Shoes: Try inserting marketing into the sales machine and vice versa. Take over a couple of key responsibilities and metrics from each other (yes, that’s a part of the deal). What you take over should not just be value additions, but actual, down & dirty tasks that need to get done. For example sales can take a metric on client coverage by touch-points per month, and marketing can take over a metric on producing deal specific material. This can require some trust building, so be prepared to start small and deliver first.
  4. Prioritize Tactically: Most change fails because people on the ground try to start top down (and often the top has no clue, or are trying to solve different problems). Instead focus on things you can change. Work with the people who want to work with you, and begin to show results in tactical increments. And then amplify the sharing of the results in terms of war stories. Nothing gets more attention than war stories. Slowly you will have a dashboard worth boasting about, and numbers to back them up, with people willing to attest to what’s happening.
  5. Follow High-Low: Every successful plan needs to be able to scale and grow. The sphere of visibility for both sales and marketing needs to expand. And you can’t do that if you execute only high touch activities in a narrow area. So supplement your plan with low touch activities that can provide continuity and consistency. An example of a high touch activity is a deal specific collateral. An example of a low touch activity is a monthly client update by email, or a case study that can be shared broadly. Be sure to link low touch activities to the pipeline analysis from the first step so they are relevant.

Once you start with the above, everything else will fall in place – brand messaging, your database, the campaigns and the metrics.

In the next planning round, give this approach a shot. I assure you that you will not be disappointed. In fact, as part of one big happy family, you’ll never have to prove marketing ROI again.

First next step:

Now self-assess your sales and marketing alignment on 11 key dimensions here (opens in new window). Scores are instant, and you will get recommendations on every dimension. Be sure to save your results so you can benchmark yourself against your peers, and set goals.

Connected book smallIf you take the self-assessment above, you may also get a FREE copy of my book Connected! After all, all your strategies should focus on the client. Without that as the context, everything is just meaningless mechanics.




  1. Based on the principles in my books Dancing The Digital Tune and Connected!
  2. Image courtesy of Pixabay
  3. Sales and marketing statistics from this nice collection on ZoomInfo
  4. The study quoted was from by

Efficient Commerce is NOT Omni Channel Customer Engagement


Omni Channel customer engagement has been a hot topic for the past several years. But despite all the buzz the real status of Omni Channel has been lagging at best. The question to ask is: Are organizations themselves integrated enough to be capable of initiating and delivering Omni Channel customer engagement initiatives?

Instead of looking at third party reports and statistics, we only need to look back at our own experience. As a customer, ask yourself these questions:

  • How many times has a retailer, bank or insurer followed up with me with the full context of my relationship with them?
  • How many times do I receive advice on what not to buy, and how to achieve what I’m trying to using their product?
  • Once I buy, how often do they positively reinforce my choice?
  • Are the thick paper catalogs I receive at home aligned with my what I’ve done or want to do, or are they just better designed coupons? Do I receive relevant coupons or offers by email?
  • Why doesn’t the contact center rep or the store associate know what I’ve browsed online?
  • How is it that everyone seems to be blind to my other identities as a person – athlete, social worker, dad, mom, business person, organic food buff, fashion pro, etc.?

Why have not even the basics of Omni Channel customer engagement been met?  Lets look at some reasons first and then examine a simple approach to achieving this important objective.

Mistaking Omni Channel engagement for analytics and promotions

A lot of what we read about digital technology – mobile, IOT, social, etc. – is centered around trying to reach customers at the right moment. Whether its location based alerts or smart signage, these are single channel promotional innovations disguised as digital engagement tools. Using a digital medium such as smart signage in the store doesn’t make it Omni Channel. Moreover, these initiatives don’t create long term customer engagement. All they try to do is target and sell.

In addition, privacy concerns arise from his approach. This was amply demonstrated by Target’s gaffe, the recent Facebook fiasco, the general mistrust of Google, nervousness about Amazon’s Alexa – in general spooking customers out by trying to know too much about them without engaging them in that conversation.

These are NOT examples of an Omni Channel strategy gone bad. Instead what these stories demonstrate is that Omni Channel engagement is lacking. These issues arise from trying to improve the uplift rates of campaigns through analytics and business logic gone awry.

Focusing on commerce, not engagement

Commerce is different from engagement. Features such as order online and pick up from store, mobile payment, retargeting, shopping cart campaigns etc. are all about commerce and conversion, not Omni Channel customer engagement. Taking a user transaction and providing better options to complete it are commerce enablers, not an Omni Channel customer engagement strategy. To move beyond the faceless commodity war that we’ve got used to fighting, it is important to differentiate between commerce enablers and customer engagement. What we need in addition to commerce competitiveness is to engage the customer so we create a relationship beyond the transaction. Commerce is often the last step.

We seem to be missing the entire run up to the commerce transaction, and also the run up to the next one. Think about it.

Focusing on digital features instead of supporting the journey

Digital transformation is closely linked with digital innovation. Survey after survey is reporting how organizations are faring in leveraging digital features. Charts are laid out with adoption and maturity statistics of an entire slew of innovative features. However, there are very few reports that map out a customer journey alongside how the features are integrated to support that journey. Moreover, doing even that would be supporting a commerce journey, and not really engaging the customers to bring them into the realm of commerce. We still rely on advertisements, coupons and promotions to bring customers in, and then try to provide a great commerce experience.

Fine…but how to focus on Omni-Channel Customer Engagement?

So commerce and customer engagement are 2 different sides of the coin. But how should we get started then on creating long term customer engagement and converting customers to be brand advocates? Here’s the approach:

  1. First, given the explosion of content, and the fact that the power of information asymmetry has weakened considerably, we need to think of customer journeys from the perspective of customer partnership. This means that customers journeys cannot just be thought of in terms of the traditional awareness-research-decision-purchase-support cycle. At all stages customers are looking for reinforcement and education, not just a one way sales dialog. As early as possible we need to anchor ourselves in the minds of our customers as someone who understands why customers are looking to transact, and then can help customers make the right decision. More than 50% of the customers would be glad if someone helped with the available options and would prefer to buy from the person / website who creates this relationship with them (other factors like price etc. being suitable of course).  This is also crucial because it helps on three critical fronts. First, it helps customers go through a phase of self selection improving retention and customer service costs. Second, it results in creating a platform that yields distinct customer segments allowing competition not on price and promotions, but on value (both physical or emotional). And finally, it results in a conscious evolution of products and offerings aligned with this positioning. This is a strategic decision because it defines all the marketing, operations and technology decisions. The self-service calculators, product how-to’s, customer reviews and other mechanisms on  many consumer websites are meant to solve this very problem by engaging the customer and creating stronger affinity to buy. These efforts would have greater success if they continued to keep the focus on the customer instead of jumping straight to sales. The content marketing revolution is enhancing this model tremendously.
  2. Often, the sum of parts is greater than the individual parts. A bank is more profitable when customers subscribe to multiple products. Similarly a retailer makes more profit when the shopping cart is more distributed. The customer engagement strategy must bring together products in a complimentary fashion, instead of clamoring for attention in isolation. Summer attires, back to school supplies, recipes and financial planning are some common ways for retailers and financial services to achieve this herculean task. Such an approach keeps the focus on the customer, instead of having to rely heavily on product wise outbound promotions with a focus on product features.
  3. Customers have requirements that are beyond what we are selling. These needs are often met by many different companies. Connecting these brands is a great way to embed ourselves in the underlying purpose of the customer, and create multiple entry points. the partnership of Horizon Blue Shield Blue Cross with LifeTime Fitness is a great example of rewarding exercise with reduced insurance premiums. A customer in a grocery supermarket may have been referred by a fitness center to buy organic food. Similarly a banking or mortgage transaction will lead to insurance needs…creating such digital ecosystems allows each business to create entries into other businesses, and vice versa.
  4. The right technology integration is important to enable this customer engagement platform. An enterprise is like a car. Many different parts come together in an interconnected way for the car to be able to run. Similarly, a technology architecture aligned with the customer engagement approach is very intuitively created once the focus is on educating and keeping the customer engagement during the run up to the transaction, the transaction itself and then the run up to the next transaction. The example of Retail Clienteling software solutions being sold by many technology vendors comes to mind. Such a concept allows us to have our channels be aware of each other, score the customer’s need based on constantly evolving qualification criteria, and empower the touch-points with the right analytics. We never have to worry about sending an embarrassing message because instead of a blind approach, we are now working with the customers to send them what they have consciously requested.

In summary, customer engagement must be thought of as a strong driver of, but distinct from commerce and brand awareness. In today’s environment, partnering with customers, educating them, presenting the full combined power of our products, and working with complimentary businesses to create mutual benefits, will go a long way. Finally, other than the right org design, technology is critical to support and drive these initiatives. Marketing technology and core technology choices must never be thought of in terms of products or a single do-it-all platforms. Instead its better to think of the approach in terms of simplifying and bringing together the different parts of the enterprise machinery, and aligning them to the customer engagement charter.

Let me know what you think. And do connect with me on Twitter @manishgrover. Image Credit : Pixabay

More Resources on This Topic

  1. Download the abridged e-version of my book Connected! here to learn more about building ecosystems and customer loyalty.
  2. Read the 5 Principles here – eliminate the need for external reinforcement to create strong customer engagement


The Future of Payments – Setting The Right Frame

ecommerce-2140603_640There’s a lot of ongoing debate regarding future of payments which includes a discussion on credit cards, wallets, loyalty, banking, among other related topics.

Meanwhile, we need to ask if the current financial services players have really made progress preparing themselves for the future of payments (or banking for that matter). I believe we still need to work on “setting the right frame” for the changes in the industry. The context is similar to the red herring I pointed to in the case of Amazon and physical retail. The real battle there is not between physical stores and online. It’s about engaging customers by being able to provide a broader set of services that helps create an ecosystem.

Similarly, there are several similar issues with setting the right frame for various issues in payments. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

1. Will Credit & Debit Cards Fade Away?

There is a fierce debate underway about the death of credit cards when we discuss the future of payments. However, to make any headway on this debate we need to change the frame of evaluation from “credit card as plastic” to “credit card as a spending pattern”.

The solution to this innovation problem is to think of how most people with access to banks use credit cards – to earn loyalty points (or airline miles and cash back), get purchase insurance (among many other types of coverage), receive exclusive concierge services, and for the ability to maintain a balance month to month in times of crunch. In fact, almost 44% of US households carry credit card balances, a trend that is catching on in emerging economies such as India & China too.

In addition, the solution to prepaid plastic cards has nothing to do with the plastic itself, but with the fact that it is an instrument (digital or physical) to make cash accessible to scenarios (and customers) that don’t fit a credit card.

However, none of the current innovations even come close to addressing these popular reasons for using credit or prepaid cards. Even if customers had a bank payment or digital wallet facility ubiquitous around the world, most will still use “cards” to make payments – whether they are hidden behind PayPal or Apple Pay.

When friction in customer experience is low, customers will maximize the value they can receive. So innovation in payments need to more actively start addressing these real world use cases to fully realize the future of payments. Most of these problems are not hard to solve with digital alternatives. We just need to set the right frame for the problem so we can look for the right solutions. Consumer behavior and habits will not be easy to change (or predict) – a risk for those with inertia, and an opportunity for innovators.

2. Applying Digital Innovation To Connect Experiences

A similar issue with defining the right problem is with the advances in digital. Banks are busy making changes to their digital properties such as websites and mobile apps. They have been experimenting with chatbots and AI. These provide great value, but we still can’t get a personalized experience either online or in the mail.  Even amazon has been reportedly trying to upsell burial urns to customers for months because of its “You bought that so you’d like this” algorithm. While there are many nice changes and technology innovations (e.g. asking Alexa to make a payment for me), they fall far behind when it comes to emerging customer use cases.

The solution to this innovation issue is to understand the change that digital is bringing. The customers of tomorrow don’t want to look at their banks as just their “financial money holder and transaction facilitator” – or at least the banks shouldn’t consider themselves to be just that. Because that game is over. Instead customers want to be able to service multiple needs with one account including retail shopping, travel, services etc. Banks have all the right capabilities – bill pay, card-linked offers, co-branded cards, PFM, branches, retirement services, and so on. But if they can’t bring them together, then Amazon Cash might gladly pick up the slack, especially when it’s linked to the Amazon Prime Store Card, and is now going to offer white labeled checking accounts too.

How to Set The Right Frame

The future of payments will not be determined by the mode of payment alone or where it is held. It will be driven by the broader ecosystem enabling the connected customer experience. We just need to think in terms of how connected customers will behave in a connected world. And we need to start building those supporting ecosystems.

In short, instead of building a “digital strategy”, we should build a “strategy for a digital world”. Download the principles in Connected! to see how to think in terms of cross-industry customer journeys and loyalty models.


Moving Your Artificial Intelligence Strategy Forward

The artificial intelligence strategy buzz is everywhere. But now we need to move beyond rule based personalization and predictive analytics based recommendations. That kind of AI has been going on for 20 years if not more. Calling every analytics based project AI using a lot of jargon is definitely fashionable. But it also adversely affects the maturity of your artificial intelligence strategy.

artificial intelligence strategy hand-1571842_1920

Our Artificial intelligence strategy should be about traditional statistical approaches plus much more. That “much more” comes from creating conditions that allow your system to learn from data on its own. This learning includes making decisions based on information about both good and bad outcomes. For example, your system monitors commerce data and notes that a purchase is a good thing to have – “a win”. It also figures out that this “win” is positively influenced by offering promotions. And it then figures out when to offer someone a promotion that results in a purchase – a win. And it keeps updating its strategy based on “wins” and “losses”.

In short the ability of your system – not you manually – to figure this out, and learn by itself is already the current frontier in artificial intelligence strategy.  We can sometimes help move this process quicker through “supervised learning”. And our goal should be to constantly expand the boundaries of what’s possible.

So here are 3 tips that I hope will help you advance your artificial intelligence strategy:

1. Always be feeding

Not all good outcomes are actually good – especially outcomes that are limited by channel or product. For example, in the previous paragraph I noted that a purchase on the website or through a chatbot is a “win”. What if I told you that this specific type of customer has an overall negative lifetime value unless other conditions are also satisfied? In addition, what if the product that the customer is browsing is not a good fit for them? In that case even if a sale is good for us in the short term, should we continue to push that product to the customer?

Thinking about the big picture helps you improve your artificial intelligence strategy by constantly feeding updated definitions of what good outcomes are. It can also help integrate the pockets of AI that mushroom everywhere. As this field evolves, narrow applications are natural to implement – such as an NLP based chatbot for customer service. However, the incentives in the artificial intelligence strategy roadmap should be aligned to the goals of constant “expansion of context”. It’s like feeding insights into a central superpower, however menacing that may sound.

2. Always be rewarding

Your artificial intelligence strategy will depend on how well you provide the notion of rewards to your algorithms. After all, to decide what to do, the algorithm must know what happened the last time it did something. And that means that the rewards and penalties should be easy to come by.

Contrast this with how we implemented analytics in the past – we ran regressions, figured out what would influence an outcome, and baked those into rules for our processes to follow. And then we repeated the process often. But now you must build your data and technology strategy around the artificial intelligence strategy. How would you transmit those rewards and penalties to your algorithms?  For example, automatically re-balancing a wealth portfolio based on market triggers is good, but we must also let the AI algorithm know whether this was a “win” or “loss”. That way it can learn and improve. Otherwise it’s just old wine in a new bottle.

3. Always be connecting

As I have outlined in my book “Connected! How #platforms of today will become apps of tomorrow“, the customer experience spectrum is way bigger than our own products and channels. Every company today must be connected to others that serve the same customers. For example, we should think of feeding our algorithms with data – with customer consent of course – about the customer’s overall identity, intent and interactions. This data can come from interaction in retail, fitness, travel etc. And we should be building two way connections between companies to help customers make better decisions.

If we don’t think of connecting with partners to enable cross-industry customer journeys, our artificial intelligence strategy will only partially succeed. We cannot be building jazzy gizmos and expect to survive when competitors (especially the new entrants) are creating customer ecosystems and expanding their product offerings. In fact most innovations today bring together customer interactions across industries. Customers receive tremendous value from these cross-industry customer journeys. We should become better partners to customers too.

In summary

AI is an evolving field but the business landscape is changing at an even faster pace. Your artificial intelligence strategy should look to get beyond its own buzz and complexity. I hope these 3 simple tips provided some perspective so you can give your artificial intelligence strategy a boost. The first step is to not lose sight of defining the right customer experiences and journeys in an increasingly connected world. This definition of purpose and outcomes will automatically help you get ahead of the quest for data as well.


  1. Image by Geralt. Also I apologize in advance to AI experts for my simplistic treatment of this topic but some good old grounding was due.
  2. Please download the principles of how to define cross-industry customer experiences and personas here, or just get them for free in your inbox.