Technology is changing the way the businesses and their customers interact. As social media and mobile technology continues to grow in popularity, companies and their customers interact far more frequently and across far more marketing channels. Businesses have the opportunity, therefore, to influence customer-buying decisions across the entire customer lifecycle.
But this goes both ways – customers similarly have higher expectations of businesses, and are quick to change loyalties if they are not satisfied. Businesses failing to make the right investments in customer experience management (CEM) solutions and failing to incorporate the myriad marketing channels into their omnichannel approach leave themselves open to losing customers in search of a better experience to their competitors.
Recent industry research from Gartner reveals that CEM is one of the highest investment areas for CEOs and CIOs today as a result of customer expectations that are higher than they’ve ever been. Companies have the tools at their disposal to satisfy these expectations – technology gives them the ability to influence customer expectations at an earlier stage than ever before. At the same time, customers are more willing to change providers to shift to different customer experiences if they’re not satisfied – which is why so many CEOs and CIOs are starting to realise the value CEM can deliver.
The perfect storm
Three things have come together to cause a perfect storm for CEM investment. One, marketing messaging has matured from mass market messaging to segment marketing to target marketing. And now, thanks to predictive analytics, individualised marketing is also possible. Two, we understand that the customer lifecycle is a loop that extends beyond just the buying decision. It encompasses everything from when customers start researching purchasing products or services to when they recommend a product to others. Three, technology has matured with social, mobile, ecommerce, and predictive analytics. They’ve all converged to enable the deployment of individualised, predictive marketing messages at every step of the customer lifecycle journey.
Isn’t multichannel enough?
Ominichannel marketing is a relatively new concept, and some businesses may wonder why their current multichannel strategy isn’t enough. Multichannel marketing refers to all the different channels you can use for customers to make purchases: in a shop, over the phone, on the web, or using an app on a mobile phone. In the old days, customers generally used one channel from start to finish during a transaction. But today, customers are far more likely to use a variety of channels.
Omnichannel marketing means selecting the most pertinent marketing channel for each step in the customer lifecycle process to interact with, influence and provide value to customers. For example, a consumer might buy an item on the web but schedule delivery over the phone. With the modern customer lifecycle, there are 10 or 12 potential touchpoint opportunities to influence customers. The key is to create the right message to add value at each of these touchpoint. Bombard the customer, using the wrong channel, or neglecting to tailor marketing are all sure-fire ways to simply irritate the customer.
Sweat the small stuff
There are a number of factors that can challenge the successful deployment of onmichannel marketing. Firstly, data security is critical because customers must be comfortable with their information being available on several different channels. Also, at every touchpoint with customers, you need to make sure that consistent brand and organisational values come through no matter what channel is selected. In addition, companies are now working with unstructured data generated through social networking, as well as traditional structured data. Businesses need to be able to capture this data all along the customer lifecycle and ultimately, do something useful with it. Finally, companies need to determine who is responsible for CEM – too often this is not well thought out and strategy suffers as a result.
From laying foundations to building
Currently, retail organisations, those involved in fast-moving consumer goods and telecommunications providers are the earliest adopters of omnichanel marketing practices because of their experience with high customer numbers and lots of customer interaction points. It’s time for other companies to catch-up with these industries and reap the benefits that omnichannel marketing holds. From laying the right individual foundations that enable CEM technologically, and picturing the ideal customer lifecycle journey – companies can build a business that delivers excellence in customer experience and ensures that customers come back for more.
Steve Cardell, President of Enterprise Services and Diversified Industries, HCL