Businesses today invest in technology to enable them to respond faster and through different channels to customer needs. Vendors, market researchers and business consultants have all promoted the value of providing a positive customer experience, and they’ve been able to support their claims with statistics showing that technology-enabled communications increase customer satisfaction, improve customer retention and can even boost sales.
For example, customer communications management (CCM) solutions and customer relationship management systems (CRM) both come with the promise to deliver a communication experience that foster engagement and loyalty. Going beyond these traditional communication technologies, chatbots and interactive voice assist technologies further extend an organization’s methods of communications.
All these solutions are designed to better know and/or communicate with customers. However, on their own, these useful technologies can’t deliver the results most organizations are looking for. Putting all the emphasis on the capabilities of the technology—even the newest and best technology—overlooks a key point: What you say to customers is just as important as how you say it, and what channels you communicate through.
Businesses have recognized the value of personalized, relevant customer communications for almost two decades now. Initially, personalization meant changing “current occupant” on customer correspondence to addressing the recipient by name. Then, it was ensuring we had the technology to pull in data from a variety of even incompatible sources and combine it with marketing text and graphics files to produce communications with more individualized information. That was a huge step in the right direction. However, as new communication channels have continued to grow, so have customer expectations. Our new market environment, with so many instant ways to communicate, requires a deeper dive to ensure a company is truly delivering what customers consider personalized and relevant content today. Providing true customer-centric content requires having the ability to reach out to customers with messages that meet their needs and tastes at a given point in time. We are seeing with increasing clarity that for a customer communications strategy to enhance the customer experience, customer-centric content is just as important to address as the technology that delivers it.
Achieving customer-centric communications requires that content originators—such as marketers, salespeople, product managers and regulators—have the ability to communicate new and personalized information quickly. That means making quality content readily accessible to customer-facing staff to enable the personalization and distribution of approved messages that directly address customers’ interests, needs and pain points in the current moment. It assures customers that you know who they are and are eager to meet their needs. We call this “content-centricity.”
Content-centricity is essential to achieving customer-centricity because if an organization is not carefully creating the right messaging to drive its communications it doesn’t matter what the technology is capable of or what other steps are being taken to engage the customer. We know that customers are looking for more than just having choices when it comes to how they engage with an organization. They also want those engagements to be targeted specifically for them. In the past, responding to these requirements often led to a focus on technology and the new channels and tools that became available, only to realize what was really needed was to empower the content authors, regulators, marketers and product managers responsible for communications to ensure relevancy in their customer communications.
In the coming year, it will be important to create a strategy that implements the concept of content-centricity by focusing on optimizing content and centralizing content management. Key to this effort is to find a platform that can feed content to the various delivery technologies and be accessed and maintained by the content authors such as marketers and product owners, rather than the content being stored in legacy databases and/or isolated technology or departmental silos. This will remove the barrier that is created when going through IT to make content changes, enabling the business to respond with agility to new customer requirements. It will also make it possible to create a consistent voice across all delivery channels. And, most importantly, it’s essential to find a system that makes it possible to intelligently personalize, manage and control the content directed to individual customers as well as to whole demographic segments. The technology, in this case, acts as an enabler to better content across all channels versus being the mechanism for delivering the content itself. There are platforms today that sit on top of CCM, CRM and email systems that enable content teams to focus solely on optimizing content to create the highly personalized, on-brand customer experience the customer so desires.
Taking the necessary steps to ensure that your communications are consistent, highly personalized and timely is essential to creating a customer experience that determines whether a business will benefit from customer retention or see churn.