Surprise, Delight, Care—Repeat

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The path to customer experience is paved with relevant customer interactions.

“How many of you have the feeling of a fire hose just staring you down?” That's how Craig Hayman, general manager of industry solutions for IBM, kicked off the opening session of the 2014 IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Tampa.

The main takeaway of the conference was clearly this: Brands need to maximize real-time customer interactions using the data at their disposal. While that could mean doing anything from running a happy birthday email campaign to crowdsourcing their next product, one thing is clear across the board: Brands need to be relevant or be gone. Well, their customers will be gone if they're not relevant, which, in essence, amounts to the same thing.

“The biggest challenge in a marketing organization is the torrent of data coming at you,” says Bill Nussey, CEO of Silverpop, IBM's most recent acquisition. “It's what you do with the data, how you take the data from the audience segment level to have an understanding of each individual customer.”

It's a trend IBM has firmly latched onto with the launch of customer experience solution ExperienceOne, which aims to combine a variety of IBM tools (marketing, sales, and service) into a single portfolio in an effort to understand customer behavior and maximize customer lifetime value.

As event MC and social and content strategist Jay Baer noted: “The most important element of relevancy is that it enables us to create amazing relationships—one-to-one relationships between customers and clients at scale.”

In other news: Apparently the summit trended internationally for a few minutes on Twitter; Ron Howard stopped by for a session about storytelling; and America's Got Talent winner and performance artist Kenichi Ebina moonwalked on his knees at the morning general session and performed other feats that would kill me if I tried them.

Oh yeah, and there was a selfie contest, of course. Winners won a meet-and-greet with the BareNaked Ladies, who closed out the summit with a concert on its last night. (“If I had a million dollars...if I had a million dollars...I would invest in analytics.” Wait. That's not how the song goes. Anyway...)


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