Customers want personalized interactions with your brand, and they want it on whatever channel is most convenient at the moment. In response, companies are investing in an automated omni-channel experience. By doing so, they can connect with potential and current customers with the information that will lead them to the next stage of the buying journey.
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A Customer-Centric Paradigm Shift
Astronomy in the late 1500s experienced a profound paradigm shift. Before, great philosophers like Aristotle and Ptolemy proposed that objects (e.g. planets, sun, and stars) revolved around the Earth. They called this a geocentric model of the Universe.
A couple of hundred years later, Nikolas Copernicus came on the scene as a serious critic. He led the way for what we refer to as a heliocentric model of the Universe. His heliocentric theory placed the sun as the center of our solar system.
As customer relationship managers, it’s time for a similar paradigm shift. Instead of thinking everything revolves around individual channels, shift to a customer-centric model. Just like Copernicus, you’ll find the model becomes much simpler and more effective when the right subject is placed in the center.
The game-changing tool that makes a fully customer-centric model possible is called a single customer view (SCV): a collection of individual customer profiles that act as a central data hub for all customer information. A true SCV database is scalable, flexible, and updated in real-time; the customer data is always current, regardless of what channel (or channels) the customer uses. Beyond up-to-date communication, you can use the data to track customer behavior (purchase history, site activity,product interests) across every channel, using it to create highly detailed customer segments and campaigns.
Setting the Scene for Automation
Automation can take your customer relationships to new heights. Using SCV-enabled software, it’s possible to track behavior, and then deliver the right messages at just the right time. Unfortunately, many companies are either unaware of the benefits of automation software, are unable to organize their data well enough to use it, or are unable to commit to the investment in such software. Fully customer-centric automation is the gold standard, but we will also discuss alternative options in this piece.
This article will focus on common scenarios companies face, comparing the possible solutions across three levels of investment in automation:
- No Automation: A manual process where all data feeds are hardcoded.
- Some Automation: Each channel is optimized, but you can’t work across channels.
- Full Automation: Using a real-time SCV for a truly customer-centric omni-channel experience.
Full automation makes it possible to meet the customer at every step of the journey with relevant, timely content. We’ll discuss solutions that don’t require full automation, but keep in mind that it’s ideal for creating the consistent, convenient customer experience that customers now expect.
Creating a Customer-Centric Plan
1. Connecting Online & Offline:
How do you create a customer-centric plan without a seamless connection between the online and offline experience? B2C companies today (most notably in omni-channel retail environments) have orders and customer service requests coming from every direction: website, social media, phone calls, in-store, etc. The same customer may start a transaction on their phone, switch to the computer for more detailed research, then go into the store to finish up. These multiple touchpoints make it much more difficult to achieve the consistent customer experience that brands are after.
You need the information to makes its way to the nearest store, move into their digital profile, and eventually becomes a part of the next email marketing campaign.
Think about the hoops you need to jump through without automation in place…
You’ll need people to take notes, make calls, and send emails. It’s going to cost precious time and billable effort to keep the hardcoded systems and processes running at a consistent rate. In 2019, there’s no reason for so much manual labor to go into menial, daily tasks.
Dedicated software allows for system-to-system connections. However, you’ll need to hardcode two systems at a time, and any change is a major effort. Also, there is no central system to manage the entire flow.
A true SCV means all channels report back to the customers. Each channel delivers and receives information from a central location.
2. Adaptive Email Campaigns
Over 78% of people will only engage with your brand using personalized promotions that are directly tied to their previous interactions with the brand. Adaptive email campaigns, when implemented properly, deliver results for businesses.
With targeted communications, companies can increase open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Add a dash of personalization to the mix and get ready to see results.
Without automation, you’re blasting out emails on a wing and a prayer, hoping that someone might open, click, and care enough to buy. That’s a pretty big expectation for someone who doesn’t even receive a personalized email from you…
An ESP (email service provider) gives shallow insight into the customer. Automation occurs at a basic level and it’s possible to track clicks. However, you can’t properly automate with occurrences outside of your standard flow (e.g. offline or a call center purchase).
When you apply a true SCV, customers will receive automated, personalized emails at every step of the journey. Using Scenarios (complex workflows), relationship management feels easier because you’re automatically catching customers at just the right moment. Some of the ways you can use adaptive emails in omni-channel communication include:
- Sending a customer service survey after a return is placed
- Responding to the survey output by sending a gift card and apologizing for any issues.
- Stopping an abandoned cart series after the customer makes an offline purchase
3. Multi-Channel Orchestration
When a business needs to spread the word, they turn to their communication channels. Thanks to Gartner Research, we know those who spread campaigns across 4 or more channels will outperform dual and single-channel campaigns by 300%.
Over a decade ago, consumers used an average of two touch points before purchasing an item. Today, that count is up to SIX touchpoints before a purchase.
As you may imagine, it’s more important than ever for companies to invest in omni-channel communication with potential and existing customers. No wonder marketers are starting to make the omni-channel experience a priority. A multi-channel approach, combined with the personalization and AI-power of omni-channel marketing automation, can transform your business into a relationship-building powerhouse.
A multi-channel orchestration means distributing and gathering data via several campaign channels. In today’s world, there are a ton to choose from, including:
To those who insist on updating all these channels one-by-one, more power to you. Though, I’d put my money on your inconsistent execution. It’s an overwhelming amount of menial work.
Implementing some automation seems like a good first step. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating generic, repetitive content. Remember, 86% of consumers channel-hop across at least two channels. Approach multi-channel content from a thematic perspective.
Avoid publishing the same content across multiple platforms. The context of your creative and copy is a huge deal for results.
For best results, bite the bullet and go all-in on a fully automated multi-channel setup.
All channels use technology to coordinate messages across thematic campaigns. Using things like Scenarios, SCVs, and UTMs, companies can communicate and measure effectiveness.
As an example, let’s say we’ve built a scenario where customers receive an email the first time they make an online purchase. From there, the customer receives SMS updates about the status of their delivery. At last, two days after the product is received, the customer receives a follow-up from a call center agent to ensure everything went well with the delivery and product quality.
An omni-channel system gives companies the power to engage at the perfect moment. If you’re ready to take your customer relationships to the next level, consider an investment into an automated omni-channel customer experience.
Exponea’s customer data platform uses AI-powered engagement automation to boost growth, improve cross-department collaboration, and implement a customer-centric engagement strategy. Take a look at our e-book on fostering customer loyalty to learn more about how an omni-channel experience can help your company grow through customer loyalty.
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