How strong is your customer engagement?

customer engagement screen

Customers today are more digitally connected, socially networked, and better informed than ever before. The customer journey, or the path that each customer takes with an organisation, is an organic one. It spans across channels and touchpoints. It can start anywhere, at any time, and can move in any direction – even backwards and in loops.

Each customer journey is unique. Whether buying or getting help for a product, customers will vary their process each time, based on what is convenient at that moment. They expect a consistently great experience across channels in real-time – from a marketing touch to a commerce interaction, from the contact centre to a sales meeting.

Multichannel integration and single customer view have been talked about for years, so why are they not yet a reality?

Today’s businesses face tremendous challenges to differentiate, adapt and meet ever-changing buying behaviours of the digitally empowered customer. Engaging customers is difficult. Regardless of industry, customers are more demanding of individualised and relevant experiences than ever before. Most departments, however, have their hands full addressing their own internal challenges: marketing on Facebook, offering live-video support, adding a mobile shopping experience, etc, and have not been able to take the concerted approach required to really engage the customer.

Modern customers have little patience for traditional marketing tactics – turning away from broadcast media and tuning out online advertising – plus marketers have not been able to turn volumes of customer data into insight to individualise experiences in real-time.

According to a recent survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), marketing executives have a detailed picture of their customers and prospects, thanks to their existing marketing channels.

While the survey found up to 73% of respondents routinely collect information about current customer behaviour, only 37% use this information for marketing purposes. Why?

Link up data

Could it be the fact that most of the data collected is sitting in disparate systems that don’t ‘talk’ to each other. Harnessing data is a challenge but it is fundamental to achieving a single customer view, which in turn is fundamental to competitive advantage. A recent Econsultancy report stated that only around a quarter of companies use a cross-channel campaign management tool. But those using such tools are more likely to hit financial targets.

Marketers have not been able to turn volumes of customer data into insight to individualise experiences in real-time.

Accurate data is central to creating a single customer view. This involves capturing it, maintaining it and managing it if it sits in disparate systems. This in itself is difficult, as data sets often sit in silos with different teams managing and being responsible for them.

Design for all channels

Then there is the requirement of technology, harnessing all of that data into one pool, so that different departments are looking at one data source and can identify how and when the customer is being contacted. Legacy technology systems remain a hindrance and can often be replaced only in a piecemeal approach.

Econsultancy’s report finds that nearly half (46%) of respondents rank the difficulty of creating a cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives as 4 or 5 out of 5.

The methods by which users interact with a brand are varied and unpredictable, a trend that will increase over time.

Smartphones are set to overtake computers as the medium for most website visits, and unusual suspects such as television browsers, game consoles and wearable technology are already after a chunk of this traffic.

In this ever-changing technological landscape you need to be careful not to put all your eggs in one basket, but instead offer multiple channels. Users jump between touchpoints under the assumption they will see the same data and options across all platforms. Putting users at the centre of your multichannel design is key to a successful omnichannel/multichannel approach.

Your customers expect the same experience every time they interact with your brand, and ideally each experience should build their trust and strengthen your reputation.

If any channel fails to reach the standards set by your best channel, your brand’s credibility will suffer.

Each interaction a customer has with your brand is one piece of their overall experience. Every time an action is not available, a mode becomes unfamiliar, or a button is not where it is expected to be, your reputation takes a small hit.

Give customers privacy

Even though customers are changing the way they engage with organisations and expect a better customer experience, they are also more in control of the amount of data they share with organisations. A common concern among marketers is that by using personal information in a way that customers consider intrusive, they will damage their brand and encourage customers to withdraw, for example by blocking ads or unsubscribing from emails.

Just under four in 10 (39%) UK respondents to the EIU survey cite respecting customer privacy as a key challenge, while damaging the brand by making customers feel uncomfortable is considered the greatest risk associated with contextual marketing.

If any channel fails to reach the standards set by your best channel, your brand’s credibility will suffer.

Organisations also are wary of crossing that fine line of customer experience and privacy. Customers need encouragement to share or grant marketers permission to use data, and marketers don’t want to risk disaffecting prospects by becoming too intrusive. If you have ever been ‘stalked’ by a brand online that overstepped the mark, chances are it had the opposite effect and you either blocked their ads, unsubscribed from their marketing materials, or formed a negative and lasting perception.

Attaining a single customer view is not an end in its own right. It will not suddenly transform your marketing effectiveness, you still need to engage the customer with the right message at the right time on the right device. And most importantly, they expect the interactions to be relevant and in context with what they are doing. This only comes from the application of analysis, technology and smart thinking.

Take your first steps towards optimising the way you engage with your customers and find out how SAP Hybris can help you to deliver a great customer experience. To learn more visit

The post How strong is your customer engagement? appeared first on Marketing Week.

Source: Marketing Week
How strong is your customer engagement?

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