Alternative Text Chris Booker | 12 November 2015 |

The future of customer engagement

Engaging your customers

Customers have taken control. They expect to get what they want, when they want it and where they want it. If they don’t get it from you, they’ll find someone who can deliver it. They may even do their search while they are standing in your store or premises. Yes, today’s customers could well be buying another brand’s products while they are stood in your store.

But for the savvy, this cloud has a silver lining – opportunities to predict and pre-empt the customer so that they can provide what they want. Proactive, not reactive. An end-to-end customer experience seamlessly executed. Let’s look at this process step by step.

Engaging through marketing

The first time that a prospect engages with you will, generally speaking, be because of your marketing activity. Even without knowing anything about these prospects, technology enables you to start developing a personalised experience, using data from cookies and social media, your systems can start to build a profile for each and every visitor to your website.

The longer these visitors spend on your site, or the more times they return, the more information can be gleaned about them. This information is not collected for devious means. It is collected to build an accurate picture with the customer, and grow each one’s relationship with your brand. Search results become more relevant to them, home pages adapt and become personalised to the individual, engagement crosses into other channels such as online and mobile stores, mobile apps and social media.

When this happens, cross-channel messages need to be consistent and complementary. After all, the customer may start their buying journey on one site, and complete it on another, making different stops along the way. And think of the rich data sets you’re collecting to aid in your customer retention efforts, nurturing customer relationships and creating brand evangelists.


Cross-channel delivery

As already mentioned, delivery of the customer experience crosses multiple channels, physical and digital. In an earlier blog post, we heard at the IBM InterConnect conference how IBM Watson is revolutionising the digital world by applying cognitive computing to the retail space and introducing a new level of interactivity into the purchase process. Early adopters of this technology are reaping the rewards in a number of ways:

  • Developing systems that help consumers find what they are looking for in fewer clicks, thereby increasing the likelihood of purchase
  • Introducing interactive in-store interfaces that use facial recognition and social media presence to create a personalised shopping experience

And throughout these interactions, your business is collecting more data about your customers to feed into your analysis.


Knowing your customers

The ability to predict  and build relationships with the customer is achieved through customer analytics – tracking your customers step-by-step as they use your website or mobile app to proceed through the buying journey. Examining this activity before, during and after purchase will help you to deliver a more personalised service for future visits.

The most intelligent systems will even tweak the customer experience while the users are active on the site or app. As well as gaining deeper insights into the customer journey, the data collected throughout the customer journey can be used to optimise customer engagement strategies and continuously improve marketing performance, creating a closed loop process of continuous improvement. That is, of course, providing you have the resources and processes to sort, manage and analyse the vast amounts of data now at your disposal, and this is where careful planning is critical.

To analyse your data, you first need to know what information you want to gain from your data. What are your objectives? What do you want to achieve from understanding the data? You may want to identify the most effective marketing messages, preferred entry points to the sales process, how long on average it takes to convert a prospect to a customer. Clearly defined objectives will help you examine the data in the most appropriate way.

Once you know what you want out of your data, the next stage is knowing how you are going to analyse your data. Some organisations make judgements based on intuition, but gut feeling is rarely repeatable and is at risk of subjectivity. Sophisticated analytics bring repeatable processes with reproducible outcomes and continually improving results.

Your analysis will reveal a number of models telling you how your customers will react to different situations. Your next task is to implement these models. Don’t be afraid to test multiple approaches – it’s the only way that you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t. Finally, it’s vital that you regularly revisit your analytics, produce new models and continue to test. This way you will improve your understanding of your customer and approach the panacea of serving and delighting every one of your customers.

Naturally, at DeeperThanBlue, we’d recommend that you contact us to help you identify the most suitable analytics solution for you.

Want to know more about how we can help you develop a great all-round customer experience? Contact us below or email [email protected].

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