By Jay Reilly
A recent Yankee Group survey found that, during 2010–2014, preferences for traditional channels such as home telephone, email, and desktop Web have declined significantly compared to newer mobile channels such as text messaging, mobile self-service apps, mobile chat, mobile websites, and using mobile phones to speak to a customer service agent directly. The use of the home telephone is down 34 percent; email is down 25 percent; mobile Web browsing and mobile text are both up 10 percent. Mobile self-service, with the highest growth, is up 12 percent. The conclusion? Ignore mobile at your peril.
Driving Forces: Yankee Group identified four top forces driving further investment in improving customer engagement:
- New Consumers: Yankee Group found that 64 percent of consumers said they needed to be connected to the Internet at all times, a number that is rapidly increasing as more devices are appearing. Customers are now in the driver’s seat, and their use of Web and social media tools creates lots of information for businesses to use to increase engagement.
- New Experiences: Yankee Group estimated that 60 percent of interactions across the customer journey are interrelated. That means personalized, cross-channel interactions are key to a quality customer experience. Interactions must be relevant to customers in order to gain their trust and encourage them to opt in to conversations.
- New Opportunities: Sixty-three percent of businesses are making mobile a priority in order to create a relevant customer dialogue that nurtures loyalty and increases sales.
- New Technologies: New technologies are enabling businesses to deliver a hugely personalized service throughout the customer journey. This includes using mobile for everything from reminders and surveys to notifications of discounts and service delivery problems. This helps a business develop customer engagement and loyalty.
It is crucial to the customer experience to move beyond reactive customer response to more proactive customer engagement. By using data held in customer service departments, organizations can deliver a better, more intelligent communications strategy and start to build relevant, cross-channel personal relationships with customers and prospects based on individual behaviors and preferences.
Customer Focus: Yankee Group identifies four key ways in which businesses can create customer opportunities and enhance relationships:
- Acquire: Mobile marketing is a great way to acquire customers. A massive 91 percent of respondents to Yankee Group’s survey showed an interest in mobile coupons.
- Serve: Once customers have been acquired, businesses can engage them by communicating via preferred channels to strengthen relationships and increase loyalty.
- Nurture: Today’s consumer belongs to a number of loyalty programs, so businesses need to differentiate theirs. It is useless to send standard offers via text that customers can just opt-out from. Make sure you are sending personalized, context-relevant offers your customers will want.
- Grow: In order to grow, you need to stand out. Personalized, timely offers can increase purchase frequency, grow basket size, and help to differentiate your company from your competitors.
Emerging Opportunities: As mobile communications grow, the dilemma for businesses is how to deliver effective mobile marketing initiatives that provide proactive and personalized communications. New advancements in cloud delivery models have made incorporating mobile customer engagement strategies easier because they are now less expensive and easier to use. Organizations can now design more intelligent, relevant, and targeted proactive communications strategies using advancements in analytics that can be delivered simply and quickly through the cloud to ensure that future initiatives are relevant and personalized.
Here are some of the new advancements to consider:
- Cloud Solutions: Cloud solutions are now cheaper, faster to deploy, and easier to use. Using the cloud means businesses have more powerful resources and more flexible capacity, allowing them to focus on strategic innovation rather than infrastructure and application maintenance. Cloud solutions are also constantly upgraded to the latest technology, ensuring your platform is up-to-date.
- Preference Management: Dynamic preference management platforms include both stated and observed preferences. Organizations can now design more intelligent, relevant, and targeted proactive customer communications strategies that optimize business results by centralizing customer tracking. Observing customer behavior can provide great insight into the best communication strategy; combining stated and implied preferences will lead to deeper customer engagement and improved response rates.
- Analytics: Insight is essential to ensure communication intelligence and measure results. Relevant analytics provide a more accurate measurement of a customer engagement strategy and ensure that communication initiatives are relevant and personalized. Organizations should use a combination of insight and technology to interact with every customer on a personal level; monitoring and storing customer interaction outcomes enhances communications intelligence over time. The only way to do this is by eliminating manual processes and using intelligent automation.
Make It Seamless: Proactive customer engagement is quickly gaining power and becoming a necessity for delivering a good customer experience. But it is important to remember that the customer experience consists of multiple channels and multiple voices; any one channel or voice that is not aligned will negatively affect all others in the customer journey. It is essential that all channels work together effectively.
Make sure you build a cohesive communications strategy across the entire customer journey, and don’t shy away from new or different forms of communication.
Jay Reilly is managing director and VP of international at Genesys.
[From the October/November 2013 issue of AnswerStat magazine]