Tue, 17 Dec 2019 16:45:56 GMT
Providing a great experience across all the channels where your brand connects to consumers has long been a challenge, and one that increases as we have more and more channels to choose from.
The Holy Grail of customer experience is to recognise and remember what a customer has done in one channel, then play it forward into the next interaction, whichever channel the customer chooses. But, writing in late 2019 I’m hard-pressed to come up with a brand that is doing this successfully. No wonder a whole marketing tech industry has sprung up promising to solve the problem. The issue there is that although some of the tech is incredibly clever, it is a struggle to integrate it properly with other systems – not to mention the issue of organisations having multiple databases holding different bits of customer information. It’s not just a customer experience problem, it’s an organisational and technological one too.
Where does the answer lie? I believe it starts with authenticity – with authentic customer information.
This is information (also known as ‘data’) that recognises the customer as an individual, with tastes and preferences, with a history, and with potential (you might call it ‘personalisation’). We deploy it frequently in value playback communications, where we are showing the customer all the specific value they have enjoyed from using a brand’s product and services over a specific time period. Brands that do this well are Virgin Media, Uber and Spotify. These are the kind of data smarts that deepen a customer relationship and drive NPS for a brand.
Authenticity is all about being based on the truth, being accurate, genuine and reliable. So investing in data-driven marketing is going to fuel authentic customer engagement, and I would always recommend doing this, no matter what the brand, because it puts the customer at the centre of the relationship and guards against the bluff and bluster we see from brands that are just opportunistically green-washing and woke-washing.
That doesn’t mean there’s no room for transactional content – but it should be relegated to transactional channels, like an app notification or a very short email. It should be crystal clear what it’s about – to the extent that the customer doesn’t even need to open it, it’s just something for future reference, should the customer need it.
Programmatic also has a role – but I’ve lost count of the number of times a brand has wrong-footed itself with me by chasing me across the internet with digital ads for something I bought two weeks ago. That kind of thing is alarmingly common and does brands no favours. If you’re going to do programmatic, make sure you get it right!
Improving the experience requires a brand to seek out authenticity in its interactions and campaigns too. This could mean good, old-fashioned collaboration and connecting the dots across the different teams of our clients. For example, if a commercial team wants to put out a price rise or a sales campaign, the customer engagement team needs to know that we shouldn’t be blowing our brand trumpet at this time – instead the focus should be on content about how the brand is investing in an improved customer experience, which will complement those campaigns.
Customers respond to authentic customer engagement with longer tenure, deeper product penetration and brand advocacy – and who doesn’t want more of those kinds of customer? In the coming decade, consumers will continue to be encouraged to question their loyalty every day – should they stay with a brand or switch to save? We know that price isn’t the only way to deliver value (in fact it accounts for only one third of value perceptions) so it’s down to us to demonstrate value by rethinking the experience we deliver.
So where does all this leave us in our search for the Holy Grail? Well, if you’ll allow me to thoroughly mix my metaphors, there’s no silver bullet. It’s more like those times you go to the doctor in the hopes of getting a pill to sort out your frozen shoulder overnight, only to be told you actually need to do daily exercises and things will improve gradually. But start now and the 2020s could be your decade of authentic, individualised customer relationship management!
Jen Musgreave is strategic insight director at RAPP UKview more - Thought LeadersRAPP, Tue, 17 Dec 2019 16:45:56 GMT