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Great CX Requires More Than a CDP

Customer data is the foundation of the personalized experiences customers expect. To anticipate customers’ needs and guide them to the right action, you must understand their past behaviors, habits and preferences. This requires examining customers’ purchase, product usage, appointment and payment histories; customer service interactions; and communication channel preferences. That is no small feat. According to a 2022 survey of 484 global CX leaders, 24% indicated that the inability to access customer data is one of the biggest challenges to delivering successful CX.

Customer data platforms (CDPs) gather and consolidate data across departments and systems. But after you centralize the data, the question becomes, “What do you do with it?” A CDP by itself isn’t enough to deliver the right personalized messages, at the right time, in the right channels. That requires a customer journey orchestration solution to provide intelligent and contextual decisioning.


What Is a CDP?

A CDP is a software platform that collects, integrates and manages customer data from various sources. These sources can include customer relationship management (CRM), contact center systems, billing, browsing history and electronic medical records. CDPs consolidate this customer data to create a unified profile for every customer that updates in real time. This real-time customer profile provides insights into customer behavior, preferences and needs—all of which are essential for personalizing communications and experiences.


Why Isn’t a CDP Enough?

A CDP will only take you so far.

Data alone isn’t enough to improve CX

Even the best CDP only gathers and stores customer data. It doesn’t inform you how to use that data to personalize customer experiences. Using a CDP by itself is like looking in your rearview mirror: you see what’s behind you, but not what’s going to happen next. The CDP shows you what the customer did recently (bought a smartphone, called to question a billing statement) but doesn’t necessarily predict what that person will do next.


CDPs don’t actually deliver personalized experiences

CDPs provide a comprehensive view of customer data, actionable insights and even activation of segments, but they don’t execute action affecting the end customer. For example, a CDP may reveal that Sue is comparing cash-back credit cards because she’s toggled between different credit card pages. While a CDP can signal this moment as an ideal time to send a tailored promotional message, a decisioning engine is required to make that communication happen—in real time on the right channel. The decisioning engine also confirms whether it is indeed the right time: for example, if Sue is having a service issue or gave negative feedback recently in a customer survey, it wouldn’t be the right time for a marketing offer, and the decisioning engine can withhold that communication.


Delayed activation

If the CDP isn’t tightly integrated with a journey orchestration platform via a unified data layer, it’s impossible to achieve real-time activation of customer profiles. That means delays and missed opportunities. Someone who is completing a credit card application may abandon it to check another bank’s fees and terms. In this scenario, you’d want to send a promotional email reminding the consumer to complete the application, but the delayed activation could result in a 10-hour wait—when it’s probably too late. By now that person has already applied for a card from another financial institution. With a unified data layer bringing together a CDP and journey orchestration platform, you enable the identification of an abandoned application and reach out as quickly as needed, encouraging completion.


CDPs Need a Decisioning Engine

While they deliver a unified view of customer interactions with your brand, CDPs don’t provide intelligent, journey-centric decisioning. They can’t arbitrate across the set of actions for customers who are on multiple or differing journeys (e.g., customer support and purchase).

To enhance CX, you’ll need a real-time, centralized decisioning engine that determines the next best action in the moment—considering the context behind all interactions on all channels.

CDP + journey orchestration provides:

      • Active updating of customer profiles (every time the customer interacts with your brand)
      • Real-time dynamic segmentation (based on that interaction or behavioral data)
      • Pre-integrated interaction triggers (determined by segmentation)
      • Execution of the next best journey action (e.g., sending an email with a discount offer, encouraging the customer to purchase the item left in the shopping cart)


What does that look like?


A consumer searches for sneakers, finding a pair they like but not at the right price point. They add it to their shopping cart but end up abandoning the site.

Using only a CDP (that has data profiling and segmentation delays), it takes hours to unify the data and send a promotional “10% off your cart item” discount. By then, the consumer has already purchased sneakers from another brand’s website.

Using a CDP plus journey orchestration, the data profile is updated in real time as soon as the customer interacts with the website. The decisioning engine evaluates the interaction to understand the context as well as the segment and value of the customer. This intelligence triggers an action to receive a promotion based on the item of interest and the behavior (cart abandonment). Within minutes, the system sends the promotional offer (via the customer’s preferred communication channel) and reminds the shopper to complete the purchase.

Related eBook: Financial Services and Insurance: Enhancing CX Outcomes With Simplified Customer Journeys


What Does the Best of Both Worlds Look Like?

Exceptional data management and real-time journey orchestration. These were the two things we had in mind when we brought CSG Xponent to market: a platform built from a best-in-class CDP and best-in-class journey orchestration engine. But understanding the importance of data management, we didn’t stop there. We integrated a unified data layer to enable true real-time customer profile purification, batch data ingestion, segmentation, and activation to drive the best next action, anytime on any channel. The result? True 1:1 personalization, creating better customer experience and loyalty, leading to more sales and greater customer lifetime value.

Ready to make the most of your CDP?

Sachin Chincholi

Executive Sales Director, Customer Experience