Microsoft enters the customer experience space3 min read

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Microsoft this week announced the launch of the Microsoft Customer Experience Platform designed to orchestrate AI-driven customer journeys. The platform has integrations with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Microsoft Advertising.

The platform will aggregate customer data — behavioral, transactional and demographic — at scale (with built-in privacy management) and use an AI solution to resolve identities. It will use real-time contextual insights and analytics to predict customer intent. It aims to lift advertising performance through audience intelligence and improve e-commerce results through AI-driven personalized recommendations. Among customers are Walgreens and Chipotle.

Why we care. For several years now, Microsoft has quietly trailed far behind Salesforce as a CRM provider with its Dynamics 365 product. Adobe, Oracle and SAP were the other vendors in the race, but they each offered far more than CRM.

The Adobe Experience Platform, Oracle CX Cloud and SAP Customer Experience emphasized cross-channel engagement; indeed CRM often seemed to be an afterthought, as if they were resigned that customers would plug their CX offerings into their existing Salesforce instance. With Dynamics 365, the opposite seemed to be the case.

No longer. The Microsoft Customer Experience Platform, while reliant on the Dynamics Customer Insights product, looks like an expansive customer engagement offering, resolving customer data, predicting intent, automatically creating and orchestrating customer journeys and analyzing the results. The question of whether it scales is answered by the interest of clients like Walgreens and Chipotle with their millions of customers.

The future of this initiative is hard to predict. After all, IBM once offered a leading marketing cloud solution. We’ll be watching to see how invested Microsoft is in delivering on these promises.

Snapshot: Customer journey analytics

Businesses know they need to be customer-focused in each aspect of their marketing operations. As a first step, brands need to understand how consumers are finding them. Whether it be via search, advertisement, or word of mouth, the medium used will set the trajectory for the rest of their journey.

Capturing their interactions post-discovery, such as communication with a call center or visit to a retail outlet, helps brands see which of their assets are helping them along their path. What’s more, brands need to know what those who convert do post-purchase–this information helps companies win repeat business and encourage customer advocacy.

These questions aren’t easily answered, but customer journey analytics tools do just that. Interest in these solutions has grown due to the increasing complexity of the customer journey, spurred on by the proliferation of devices and evolving consumer behavior and expectations.

The average person uses many devices to access the internet. Cisco forecasts that the number of devices connected to IP networks will increase to more than three times the global population by 2023. With so many devices, people shift back and forth depending on the task at hand and their current environment. Consumers and business buyers turn to an average of nine channels to browse product inventory, look for advice, and make purchases.

Customers expect to have consistent experiences at each of these touchpoints. They want personalization, a trend that continues to grow. Tools like customer journey analytics software give brands the ability to gain insights from their audience and act on them. Learn more here.

About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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