Today, if your business is not moving in real time, you may find yourself falling behind. Customers, consumers, and executives want and need information in the moment. Being able to respond to that moment means that marketers, IT professionals, and customer-facing staff must all be able to deliver individualized customer experiences.
The ability to identify customer opportunities and to respond quickly requires a convergence of the many new technologies that are transforming business across industries.
Here’s how the two concepts are connecting today.
Keeping it real
The ongoing digital revolution means that customers expect to know immediately when products will be shipped, when new innovations are available, and when prices change. Real-time business is increasingly seen as critical in the marketplace, and companies that provide real-time engagement often provide valued information to their customers. In return, they’re rewarded with information on their customers’ product usage, preferences, and location, all of which provides valuable insights.
Real-time engagement is a dramatic step in the evolution of personalization. For many years, personalization has really been about segmentation: Customers who buy a product comprise two groups—those who buy the same product and those who share similar demographics with each other—and segmentation-based personalization is actually done at the group level rather than the individual level. However, in reality, personalization that’s not done at the individual level truly isn’t personalization.
Listening to me
Individual personalization involves understanding what a customer’s needs are in the moment—in real time —and responding to that individual customer with the understanding of his or her context and intent.
To gain these insights, marketers must rely not just on the tried-and-true explicit insights—transactions, responses to campaigns, orders, and returns—but also the implicit customer signals, which tend to provide stronger indications of the customer’s interest and intent. These implicit signals can be gleaned from a wide range of sources: Are customers’ sentiments shared on social media such as Facebook or Twitter? In their emails, are customers complaining or complimenting? What information is shared on service web forms?
Leveraging data analytics, recorded customer service or technical assistance calls can be converted to gain insights into customer satisfaction and sentiments. Combine this information with online behavior insights such as time spent on specific product pages, offers hovered over for a certain time period, previously visited sites, etc. Combining implicit customer information with explicit insights gives marketers a deeper, more robust understanding of their customers.
The marketer’s role
What can marketers do with these richer insights? They can deliver real-time business opportunities using the following three core tactics:
- Invest in customer data management: Create a single consolidated customer view. Consider technologies to help you identify customers through different engagement channels; you can’t personalize customer engagements if you don’t know who you’re interacting with. Also, consider customer programs that incent customers to exchange their behavior information for services or other benefits that they value. Customer loyalty programs are a common method used to identify customers in return for rewards and benefits. Mobile apps are another good way to provide convenience to customers while gaining valuable behavior insights such as real-time location.
- Real-time identification and response: Customers today demand a quick response to their questions—after all, they are just a click or a few taps away on their mobile phone to getting what they want elsewhere. Marketers need the ability to process large volumes of data quickly to identify customer opportunities and respond with relevant individualized messages and offers to convert customers. Identify the moments when customers are ready to find, learn, or buy, and respond to these opportunities with relevant offers and messages.
- Be consistent in delivering personalization throughout the journey: Personalization is only as good as the weakest channel throughout the customer journey. Ensure that all relevant channels share customer information from a centralized place, so that all channels and devices can dynamically identify and respond in real time with individualized customer engagement across all departments and throughout the entire journey.
Delivering real-time experiences has never been more exciting or easier to do. For marketing and IT leaders, the opportunity to transform organizations truly exists, and it is extraordinary.