By Patric Timmermans, Director, CRM Product Marketing, Infor
In their recent book, "Return on Customer", Don Peppers and Martha Rogers propose that a company's biggest asset is their customer. Simply stated, all of the company's value comes from the customer, not its product, not its brand, not its sales team. As a consequence, focus on the customer interaction is critical to maximise the value of this asset.
This seemingly innocuous statement contains the seeds of a profound change for marketing. Traditionally marketing’s goal is to bring a product to the customer and to reach as many as possible potential customers.
Strategically, the company is trying to maximise the value created by each product and to achieve the maximum number of ‘interactions’ between a product and customer.
Peppers and Rogers’ thesis proposes a tactic of one-to-one marketing, where the goal is to satisfy customer needs to the maximum possible degree with each interaction. The strategic goal is to maximise the value created by each customer and indeed, each interaction with that customer. In other words, increase the share of the customer.
Traditional, mass-market strategies aim to increase the number of product / consumer interactions. This volume approach then imposes constraints onto a producer or service provider.
For example it dictates that a business must be the lowest cost producer. Consumers can easily shop online and find the cheapest product on a like for like basis. Prices can be compared internationally and the resultant pressure on margins is incredible.
By comparison, those businesses that operate within the one-to-one, customer experience dimension have the option of increasing their value to the customer with each interaction and combating decreasing revenue with an increased number of more relevant offers.
However, this approach does mean that as a business, you must be able to differentiate between different customers and understand their idiosyncratic needs. This demands a new class of dialogue with the customer - a "continuous customer dialogue” as we call it.
Interaction Management is the enabling technology behind this dialogue. Forrester describes Interaction Management as:
"..delivering relevant offers to customers during the course of an interaction requires a real-time customer profile, cross-channel coordination, and predictive analytics to generate relevant messages." (Forecast: Global Enterprise Marketing Platforms: 2007 To 2013, Forrester.)
This focus on inbound marketing means that businesses need to react quickly, often in real time, throughout the course of the interaction with the customer. This proximity to the client and the need for real-time analysis to be brought to bear on the relationship in terms of new offers, promotions or messages means a great deal of customer experience management must remain in-house.
The use of real-time analytics and interaction management has such high potential for business change because they can apply to any interaction between the company and the customer regardless of medium.
Interactions via the Internet, call centre, contact centre, point-of-sale, kiosk, or even ATM can all be integrated into the interaction management and customer lifecycle solution.
Delivering relevant offers to customers during the course of these interactions requires a real-time customer profile, cross-channel coordination, and predictive analytics to generate relevant messages.
To do this, solutions pull data from the company’s enterprise warehouse (transaction history and offline scores), eMarketing warehouse (clickstream data), and operational systems (most recent address) to identify relevant offers to customers that contact the company, consistently through each of their channels. This maximises the value of each interaction whilst retaining a personalised edge.
Most companies realise that changing the Customer Experience is necessary to meet their company’s business objectives. The challenge is that this requires a change from traditional marketing to one-to-one marketing with relevant and personalised customer interactions at every customer touch point.
Only real-time analytics and interaction management can fulfill this promise by using a combination of historical, personal, and contextual data to create a real-time customer profile and then apply a unique combination of real-time analytics and business rules to deliver the highest-impact offers at the moment of interaction between businesses and customers.
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