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The power of CDPs: building customer trust and loyalty in retail

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The events of 2020 have left a lasting impact on the retail industry and retailers are fueling rapid innovation with development and rollout of new technologies. The global pandemic has shifted how customers buy, as well as renewed recognition of the critical value of technology to customers. Convenience, flexibility, and personalization will continue to dominate customer choices. The retailers who continue to thrive will be those that let customers engage on their terms while simultaneously connecting with customers in more meaningful ways.

Retailers today are collecting data from every customer interactionfrom websites and apps to helpdesk chats and support calls, to physical store visits. But is all the data really being utilized and what is the impact on customer relationships? The ability to deliver a personalized customer experience relies heavily on a retailer’s customer understanding. This is where customer data platforms (CDP) can help retailers gain a holistic view of customers, deepen relationships, and build ongoing trust with the customers who are vital to their bottom line.

Read additional details about how Microsoft Dynamics 365 is reimagining retail in our recent blog, “NRF 2021: enabling retailers to reimagine the road ahead with Microsoft Business Applications.”

Customers demand and respond to personalized experiences

Customers today expect personalization from the organizations they interact with. According to Forrester, 80 percent of U.S. online users feel comfortable sharing some personal information with retailers in order to personalize their experience. Every customer is unique and has a unique path to purchase, and personalization helps retailers guide customers on the right path based on their needs and behaviors. CDPs provide the crucial foundation for enabling personalized customer interactions by bringing together transactional, behavioral, and demographic data from across channels to create multidimensional customer profiles. They enable activation on realtime insights across the customer journey and on destinations including analytics, marketing, advertising, and engagement platforms.

Customers reward businesses they trust

While virtually every interaction is being tracked, nearly 67 percent of customers have little to no understanding about how their data is being used by companies, according to Microsoft research in partnership with iProspect. This is an opportunity for retailers by showing transparency and showcasing the value they can provide in exchange for dataorganizations can ultimately earn customers’ trust and loyalty.

How it’s done

A number of organizations have found unique ways to combine deep customer understanding with innovative experiences to achieve growth and set themselves apart from the competition. One such organization is Chipotle Mexican Grill, a chain of more than 2,700 restaurants with multiple sources of customer data including a loyalty program, point-of-sale data, a customer care center, and digital platforms. They turned to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to unify data and better understand their customers.

Getting personal, at scale

Chipotle has millions of customers each year across its thousands of locations, but with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights the company has a deep understanding of individual customer preferences. They now know whether customers typically order for lunch or dinner, what their favorite meals are and which channel they use to make their purchase. These insights have allowed Chipotle to target customers with promotions and messages that appeal to them.

Using the map, match, and merge logic at the heart of Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, Chipotle can standardize and reconcile conflicting data and then set up business rules and act on them. The result is unified profiles with detailed views of each guest. Chipotle also uses Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to grow its customer base by converting more guests into loyalty program members. Using rich demographic data, they were able to gain insights on guests who made purchases but weren’t members of their loyalty program, which added up to 30 percent more unified customer profiles.

“Every customer is different. Customer Insights allows us to understand each customer’s differences and market to them as a unique individual.”Sashi Kommineni, Director of Enterprise Analytics, Chipotle Mexican Grill

The ability to personalize has been particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many customers have become hesitant to visit restaurants. Dynamics 36 Customer Insights helped Chipotle understand customer concerns and provide appropriate messaging, such as information about delivery and pick-up options. Though this highly specific targeting, Chipotle was able to increase conversations and use of these services.

Take the next step

By leveraging customer data to provide elevated, personalized experiences, retailers can build lasting relationships with customers, increase brand trust, and grow customer loyalty.

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights is a secure and flexible customer data platform with built-in AI to unify customer data and generate insights that power personalized experiences. Using prebuilt connectors, the solution brings together first- and third-party data sources including interactions with the web, mobile apps, and connected products. Dynamics 365 Customer Insights proactively identifies segments and generates predictive insights such as churn rates, lifetime value, and recommended products. Real-time integration with business applications and business processes ensure that marketing, sales, and service efforts are tailored for each customer. Brands see results faster with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, an intuitive and ready-to-go customer data platform that requires minimal training and IT assistance.

Take a guided tour to see how your organization can use Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to unlock insights and drive personalized customer experiences, and learn more about our Microsoft Dynamics 365 Retail offerings.

The post The power of CDPs: building customer trust and loyalty in retail appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

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Power Fx: Error handling graduates to preview

We are thrilled to announce that the long-time experimental feature Formula-level error handling has moved forward to preview. As a result, you and your end users will enjoy higher reliability and more transparency about what is happening in your apps. It’s a huge step. Adding error handling to an existing language turned out to be a very tall order, touching almost everything, from data types, to functions, to the runtime. Thank you for all of your support, feedback, and patience as we got this done. What does it mean for you? Your apps will more reliably detect and report errors.You can write blank/null values to a database.You can detect and replace errors with the IsError, IsErrorOrBlank, and IfError functions.You can control error reporting and logging at a central location with App.OnError.You can create and throw your own custom errors with the Error function. Error handling is a big change in behavior. By entering preview, we are signaling that we believe we are done, that we anticipate no further significant changes from here. Many of you already use error handling in production and this move to preview should only embolden more of you to do so. If significant changes are needed from here, we will treat them as a separate feature. We are rolling this out slowly as it is such a big change. All of you will soon see that the Formula-level error handling switch has moved from experimental to preview in the settings (as of version 3.22082). It will still be default to off for most tenants. Over the coming weeks we will slowly change the default for new apps only to on across the tenants. Makers can still disable this feature and will be able to do so for a long time. I say again: we are changing the default for new apps only. Existing apps will continue running as they always have. We have no plans at this time to turn this on for existing apps, and as this is such a big change, we may never do this and make this a permanently available switch. Your feedback will guide us. The documentation for Error, IfError, IsError, IsErrorOrBlank functions and the App.OnError property covers these changes. IfError and IsError are very similar to their Excel counterparts. We are also working on overview docs that will be released shortly. But before that, let’s take a brief tour. Let’s start with what Excel does, the inspiration for Power Fx. For an error like division by zero, Excel is very clear that something has gone wrong with a # error message that shows right in the cell. This error will propagate to other cell formulas if A1 is used in a formula: Today, without error handling, Power Apps won’t report anything in this scenario, instead treating the division by zero error as a blank value. That’s not good, as the maker and the end user of the app have no idea something may have gone wrong: Errors happen. Unexpected data flows in, networks go down, storage fills up, to name just a few situations that an app may encounter in the real world. Makers don’t often think through all the ways that things can go sideways which makes default error handling even more important. Returning a blank for an error is also a problem because blank is a legitimate value in our type system and in many databases. Without error handling, Power Apps won’t allow you to write a blank to a database instead thinking it is an error. So, instead of returning an easy to ignore or misinterpret blank value, with error handling turned on we now report an error to the end user (the error banner) and show the formula as having an error to the maker (the red filled in circle on the control): Further, if you look at the value of the formula, it is not a blank but an error value. Just as any formula can result in a blank, now any formula can also result in an error: Now, we still aren’t showing an error in the label control itself as Excel does. We couldn’t do this generically because, unlike Excel, the error could be on a property of a control for which there is no way to display the error. For example, where should an error on a slider control? Where should an error be shown for an imperative operation in the middle of a button’s OnSelect formula? We settled on showing the end user banner and flagging the control in the design experience. That’s not to say you can’t detect and display an error in that label control. Error handling provides a wealth of mechanisms to control how errors are handled and reported. For example in this case, we can wrap the division by zero with an IfError function to return a custom message in the label: The Text function call is required for type compatibility. Or we can use IfError to throw a different, more specific error with the Error function: Or we can have a catchall for all errors in the app with App.OnError. For example, we can log the error and present a different message to the end user: If we look at the log, we see the details of the captured error from FirstError (and there is also an AllErrors), including where it happened and when it was detected: The possibilities are endless! You now have all the tools you need to detect, replace, report, and log errors, including a good default behavior if you never take advantage of these tools. And, bonus, you can also now write blank (or null) values to databases. Please let us know what you think in the Power Apps community forum. There is a dedicated and active space for error handling discussions at Error Handling – Power Platform Community (microsoft.com).

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