Navin Dhananjaya, Chief Solutions Officer, Ugam, a Merkle Company

Navin joined Ugam as their Chief Solutions Officer in 2013. He leads solutions management and is responsible for conceptualizing and developing new, innovative solutions and taking them to market. He oversees the client delivery for overall analytics (including media, audience, site analytics) and digital commerce service lines at Ugam.  He is also responsible for conceptualizing and building Ugam’s JARVIS – a cognitive computing system. He is passionate about creating an environment that promotes personal and professional growth. His understanding of both, analytics and technology, gives him a unique edge to identify the right talent from all backgrounds and mentor them to build successful careers. He is truly Ugam’s gardener for talent – both metaphorically and literally. He brings over 25 years of experience, has held senior roles in companies such as Mu Sigma, Infosys, and Manthan.


As a customer, what is one more likely to respond to – a mass campaign with discount ads or customized promotion campaign with purchase recommendations? The answer is simple – the former is impersonal and does not evoke a response whereas the latter has potential to resonate with the customer. A Merkle survey found that 86% of people prefer personalized offers based on their interests and browsing or purchase history as opposed to generic mass emailers. For businesses today, meeting their customer’s expectations is not enough anymore – they need to anticipate and exceed them. This impels companies to review their customer experience through a people-centric lens – Think customer!

What is customer experience (CX)? It is the collective of every interaction a customer has with a business, encompassing their end-to-end journey. The growing prevalence of various e-commerce platforms has changed customer purchase dynamics considerably. The customer is more powerful than ever, which has resulted in a paradigm shift in marketing techniques from being product-centric to customer-centric. Thus, creating a need for effective customer experience management (CXM) systems that will help retain customers and result in conversions by enriching the overall experience. Great customer experience is personalized, relevant, seamless, memorable, and consistent.

How do we deliver this great CX? Customer data is largely available, but is often unstructured, diverse, and colossal in volume which can be overwhelming for traditional modes of data analysis. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a vital role to make sense of this data and help formulate appropriate strategies that drive customer experience. We are now able to teach machines to adapt rather than simply program them. Big data is an essential input to achieve an accurate, 360-degree view of customer interactions, and is a prerequisite for AI-based systems. Cutting-edge technology, efficient processes coupled with AI and machine learning, powered by a skilled workforce can deliver next-gen CXM systems. 

Some of the applications of AI and big data to drive great customer experience include:

  • Deeper understanding of end-to-end customer journey
  • Better customer engagement by means of hyper-personalization
  • Real-time decisioning and faster resolution of customer complaints

In a world where every individual craves a tailored experience, AI and big data help companies and brands to gain a far more accurate understanding of their customers. Brands can communicate directly to each one of them, rather than generalized demographics. Hyper-personalized experiences not only help with customer conversions but boost customer retention.

Here’s an instance of how a retailer redesigned their marketing strategy to create more personalized journeys for their customers. The retailer used to employ mass campaigns to reach out to their customers which failed to achieve the desired effect. This led to loss of customer loyalty and in turn, sales. By leveraging AI and big data, the retailer was able to formulate propensity models that helped identify consumer footprints across various categories and deliver behaviour-triggered communications. By using AI to understand the customer better, taking advantage of real-time decisioning and predictive analysis, customer journey was improved through all touchpoints and across channels. This resulted in hyper-personalized experiences that added tremendous value. 

A people-based strategy that takes personalization to another level is the future of CXM. Leveraging AI and big data will help businesses form structured, sustainable and long-lasting models to drive customer satisfaction, increase revenue and make meaningful impact on the holistic experience of the customer.

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