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Walgreens: Tips for Transforming the Customer Experience

"Never in my 31 years with this company have I ever seen customer satisfaction jump like it does in these [Well] Experience stores. Customers keep telling [us] they want to stay in those stores longer, which is music to a retailer's ears."

This quote is from Gregory D. Wasson, President and CEO of Walgreens. The company ranked 89th on this year’s InformationWeek 500, a list of the top technology innovators in the U.S and also listed as the highest-ranked company in the retail category.

Walgreens is moving away from a product-based approach and towards a fully encompassing consumer experience they call, "the Well Experience." This new approach seeks to transform the customer experience across all of the company’s touch points, channels and formats.

"We are taking a multi-pronged approach to delivering the Well Experience. We increased engagement [between] team members and customers, and an omni-channel approach that blends our brick-and-mortar stores with e-commerce and mobile commerce. We are deliberately blurring many retail channels to fit how consumers shop today."

  • Walgreens is expanding across channels to combine physical locations with superior online experiences such as the company's acquisition of Drugstore.com which advances meeting that objective.
  • They have added mobile device capabilities in the past year to include prescription refills and transfers by scanning the pill bottle; QuickPrints, an application that enables users to print photos directly from their devices to any Walgreens store; and in-store maps that allow customers to use a digital shopping list to map and locate items in a store.
  • The company's Balance Rewards loyalty program has seen more than 50 million people enroll since its introduction.
This shift is in line with ERDM findings regarding how consumers, (BtoB and BtoC) define the customer experience:
  • Preferences must drive high quality personalization of communications and experiences.
  • Consumers have shifted from being passive recipients of 'push' marketing, to selecting companies which engage, listen to, and act on, input from customers and prospects.
  • Satisfaction with a product is now a given, engagement is what counts.
5 Key Takeaways
  • Give customers what they want... and they will want to do business with you.
    As a result of preference-based interactions, consumers are more willing to respond to communications and offers.
  • Customers expect a multichannel experience.
    Marketers must deliver on the expectations of improved customer experiences with consistency across every channel and point of contact.
  • Be Flexible and open to change
    Make customer listening part of every functional area, not just marketing. And, be flexible about acting on what you learn from customers.
  • Continually monitor how your company interactions impact every customer experience
    Be sure your policies and communications are in line with customer preferences… across every channel and every company department.
  • Designate a Team
    Establish a dedicated customer experience team to develop and execute an enterprise-wide plan to set customer experience standards and set milestones for adoption by every employee and department.



About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

he results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

Online shopper expectations: are you exceeding (or even meeting) them?


For many online shoppers, requesting more information about a product or service can lead to frustration. In a recent research by sales automation firm Velocify, a third of interested buyers never get a response to an online inquiry and those that do often wait 48 hours to hear from a sales rep. The disconnect between online shopper expectations and retailer execution is a critical and addressable shortfall.

To learn more about the expectations and experiences of online shoppers, we partnered with Velocify to commission an online survey from Zogby Analytics. Zogby surveyed more than 1,000 adults in the U.S. who had submitted an online form requesting information or expressing interest in a product or service valued at $1,000 or more.

The study reveals that many companies are likely losing sales because they are failing to meet the expectations buyers have developed for response speed and persistence.

Download today and learn:


  • The length of time a typical buyer spends researching online prior to submitting an online inquiry form
  • The longest buyers are willing to wait for a response to their inquiry
  • The best and worst industries when it comes to responses to online customer inquiries
  • The number of companies a typical buyer submits inquiries to when looking to buy a product or service
  • The number of call attempts buyers want you to make before you give up trying to reach them

Read Full Study





About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hits bookstores this summer. Eric leads the professional services organization to strategically guide companies on the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.

Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

You planned to crush your customers this holiday season…but are you planning to keep them?


Just a few short years ago, the phrase “Cyber Monday” was utterly meaningless. For millions of American families, Cyber Monday was a quiet day set aside for backyard football and leftovers. But with the rise of the Internet and advent of the digital deal, it has become a critically important date for retailers and also – surprise, surprise – the most active email marketing day of the year.

For many marketers, planning for Cyber Monday begins a year in advance as part of a budget. They need to create campaigns, develop ads, approve designs and scrub lists in advance of the big push. Unfortunately, far fewer marketers make room in the planning process for preference management initiatives designed to keep the very customers they will bombard.
 
And the seasonal bombardment is spectacular: Retail Marketing Blog reports that major online retailers sent each of their subscribers an average of 5.3 promotional emails during the five-day period beginning on Thanksgiving and ending on Cyber Monday, an 18 percent increase over the same period last year.

So what happens when the emails are opened, the tryptophan wears off and the deals are expired? Opt-out season begins. Flooded with more marketing messages than ever before, consumers seek to gain control of their digital lives by regulating and eliminating the unnecessary noise.

The key to maintaining relationships with customers after the holiday season lies in your company’s ability to understand and honor their preferences. Here are three simple preference management starting points to consider as you plan for 2014:
  1. Offer opt-down functionality in your email marketing: Instead of presenting customers with an all-or-nothing engagement, give them the power to tailor communications to suit their interests. Offering an opt-down option drastically reduces opt-outs and helps marketers focus messaging on topics of interest.
  2. Install a website preference center: Create an easy-to-use portal where customers can create individual profiles, select topics of interest, preferred delivery channels and pace of communications.  Preference centers provide the ability for customers to maintain their preferences as their interests change over time.
  3. Connect the preference center to all customer touchpoints: Now that you have a preference center in place, propagate it to every interaction point between brand and customer, such as mobile, social media, in-store, contact center and more. Each touchpoint represents an important opportunity to listen to customers and learn from what they select and say.
Approaching preference management as a series of actionable steps makes it easier to plan and earn organizational buy-in. Cyber Monday is approaching and with it comes the avalanche of seasonal marketing messages. Take time right now to plan for the holiday hangover that is sure to follow.  




Trey Suter is the Enterprise Business Development Manager - Compliance & Education at PossibleNOW.
 
 

Featured Article: Holtzclaw and Davis on Shopping Cart Abandonment

Did you know that more than 90 percent of mobile shopping carts are abandoned prior to purchase?

On Tuesday, CMO.com published a new article from PossibleNOWChief Strategist Eric Holtzclaw and Danny Davis, CEO of Proving Ground that explores why the mobile purchase rate is so low. It’s based on primary consumer research they conducted over the summer. They identified two key reasons why consumers leave mobile sites before purchase and offer three specific tips on how to address it.

 
http://www.cmo.com/content/cmo-com/home/articles/2013/11/15/how_to_keep_those_mo.html
 

It’s a great piece but I have to be honest about something – how do these guys have time to run companies, write books and conduct consumer research? It’s a mystery.




Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOWand CompliancePoint. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace. 

With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today. 

              Follow me on Twitter: @EricTejeda | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Tejeda 

Preference Centers: Are CMOs Overlooking Their Importance?

Today’s blog post is from Ernan Roman, one of the keynote speakers at the recent 2013 Customer Engagement Marketing Summit hosted by PossibleNOW. Ernan is a Marketing Hall of Fame inductee and well-known for his Voice of the Customer research.  

A good preference center is akin to a good first date. It is all about initial appropriateness, understanding, and communication. Once accomplished, you have earned the right to a second date and deeper levels of discussion. 
       
Is Your Preference Center Hurting Your Customer Experience?”--the first article in this two-part series--discussed why marketing executives should be concerned about the role of preference centers in enabling their companies to capture the deep customer insights necessary to drive personalized communications.
This article focuses on recommendations from CMOs and senior execs regarding preference center functions and experiences that are critical--whether you are about to build a new center or make improvements to an existing one.
Before You Invest. . .Research When Thomson Reuters decided to build a preference center, research was its first step. “We did market research ahead of deploying our new email preference center,” said Diangelo Tyler, Thomson Reuters’ director of online marketing. “Our objective was to determine what was most important to the customer.”

Tyler offered the following tips:

  • Do your homework prior to building the preference center. Refined requirements are the key to success.
  • Seek answers to the tough questions.
  • Keep in mind that the preference center is for the customer, and they hold the power of voice.
 
Don’t Be Afraid Of Opt-Outs
Tyler went on to discuss a topic noted by many of the CMOs who my company, ERDM, interviewed while preparing this article. “It’s better to be transparent and open about your intent. It was critical that we make it as quick and simple as possible for our customers to manage their preferences and [for] marketers to get access to their permissions,” he said.


Many marketers shy away from creating truly customer-focused preference centers because they fear mass opt-outs. However, giving customers the ability to provide you with their preferences regarding communications and experiences actually provides you with a powerful competitive advantage.
Per findings from our Voice of Customer Relationship (VoC) research, customers and prospects consistently stated they were willing to provide trusted brands with deeper levels of information in exchange for more personalized information and experiences.
B2B and B2C consumers cited that willingness so frequently we gave it a name: the Reciprocity of Value Equation. Following are some key VoC findings regarding Reciprocity of Value:
  • Consumers recognize that to receive or access relevant information, they must provide preference information.
  • If they trust the brand and receive a useful value proposition, then consumers will opt-in to sharing increasingly detailed preference information.
  • Reciprocity is seen as a valuable exchange of information. This information will constantly change, grow, and be enriched through ongoing interactions with consumers.
  • This customer-driven information exchange results in uniquely accurate databases that consistently achieve 25 percent to 50 percent increases in revenue.

“The key is to establish an ongoing dialogue with the customer. As they give personal information to you, they are building a relationship with your brand,” said Jennifer Downes, director of direct response marketing at Lenovo NA. “Critical to the learning process is the level of engagement that a customer has with your preference center. The customer must perceive value in your preference center so they proactively update their preferences as they evolve in their journey.”

Another issue marketers face in this space is compliance. “We have to comply with telemarketing regulations and the new cell phone rules, so we’ve used this opportunity to build customer preferences for phone contact,” explained Jane Bulman, VP of telesales at Comcast. “We ask them and are transparent about the benefits of future calls--special offers and notifications about new products, for example. Over 70 percent who purchased previously said, ‘Yes, contact me again.’ If we ask how customers want to be contacted--and for what purposes--we gain marketing efficiency, customers welcome the call, and we follow the law.”

Preference-Based, Not Transaction-Based, Data Is Key It is important for executives to realize that transaction-based spray-and-pray blasts are causing significant damage to their brands. Irrelevant communications are training customers to associate their e-mail and direct mail with “delete” or “throwaway” behaviors. 
Per our VoC research findings, consumers believe that transaction-based data is inadequate and an inaccurate indicator of their true preferences regarding future communications they would consider relevant. They stated repeatedly that they want brands to treat them “as more than just a sale.” 
Rather, they want relevant and engaging communications:
  • “I want more than just buying history-based e-mail.”
  • “With today’s technology, I expect the experiences and e-mail to reflect my preferences.”
  • “I think being able to select just what I’m interested in would be very helpful. It would mean a lot less searching on the Web site and a lot less email I don’t usually open anyway.”
Key Takeaways
Following are recommendations regarding what you need to consider in order to develop a high-quality preference center. These were provided by Scott Frey, a preference management innovator and president and CEO of Possible Now, which provides enterprise preference management solutions.
 
Tip 1: Account for all of the systems currently in use to collect and store preference information from customers. There are multiple touch points--e-mail, mail, point of sale, social, and mobile--that must be taken into account to ensure the preference center is as comprehensive and effective as possible.
Tip 2: Understand the business rules and needs of the business owners. An effective preference center must take into account all of the existing business rules and needs of the business owners who are impacted by the data collected by the preference center. Bringing those parties together early and keeping them informed throughout the build of the preference center is crucial.
Tip 3: Start with the end in mind. Creating a plan for how the information collected through the preference center will impact marketing campaigns and customer correspondence assures that all of the right elements are accounted for in the preference center and provides a guideline for reporting.
Tip 4: Viewing from the customer’s perspective. Companies must think about building preference centers from the customer’s (user’s) perspective. Avoid internal language and make sure the preference choices are clear and descriptive. The content within the preference center is important to the center’s effectiveness in decreasing opt-outs and increasing opt-ins.
 
In conclusion, keep in mind that preference centers enable you to deliver truly personalized offers, communications, and experiences. These, in turn, will drive significant increases in response to cross-sell offers, new product introductions, and loyalty-building initiatives.
“As our markets become increasingly fragmented on interests and needs, delivering the right message at the right time in the right way will be impossible without a solid preference management practice,” said Denice Hasty, Comcast’s SVP of consumer marketing.
 


About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

he results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

Is Your Preference Center Hurting Your Customer Experience?

Today’s blog post is from Ernan Roman, one of the keynote speakers at the recent 2013 Customer Engagement Marketing Summit hosted by PossibleNOW. Ernan is a Marketing Hall of Fame inductee and well-known for his Voice of the Customer research.

CMO.com

  Feature story from CMO.com

 

“I’m in a cold sweat.” So began the call from the CMO of a prominent Fortune 100 company. “We’ve invested millions in new customer engagement technology and just realized that we never actually asked our customers how they define more relevant communications and experiences.”
Perhaps you, too, have had the awakening that the yield you’ll receive from the millions invested in new technology rests on your ability to deliver a personalized, preference-based customer experience. Research conducted by our firm, ERDM, for clients such as IBM, MassMutual, QVC, and Norton AntiVirus indicates that for many consumers--B2B and B2C--preference centers presumably designed to engage them are, in fact, alienating them.


This article, the first installment of a two-part series, provides insights regarding the special role preference centers play in enabling companies to capture the deep preference information necessary to drive truly personalized communications. Unfortunately, many brands are falling short. While conducting our ERDM VoC research, customers told us they are not receiving the expected value from preference centers. Among their statements:

» Misleading--they are focused on the company’s sales goals, not on learning the customer’s preferences.”

» They’re not focused on my preferences. The focus is on the stuff they want to sell my company.”
 
A summary of findings indicates that many preference centers don’t provide a resource that is:
» customer-focused
» comprehensive across different product lines and channels
» easy to find, use, and update as customers’ needs change

Insights such as these are helping CMOs and CIOs realize they need a far deeper understanding of how customers define preference-driven engagement. This includes understanding how customers define a value-based relationship with their brands, personalization, and appropriate questions to ask regarding their preferences.
The Only Votes That Count Come From Your Customers And Prospects
For today's empowered consumers, personalization is a basic expectation. To achieve this heightened level of personalization, more accurate customer data is required.

“For customers, the preference center is the mechanism to voice how they wish to interact with a brand. For marketers, it allows them to develop a deeper understanding of their customers,” Jennifer Downes, Lenovo NA’s director of direct response marketing, told me. “That said, the reality is that marketers as business people have metrics to meet, which may be at odds with providing the best customer experience. The key to success is for the marketer to find creative ways to meet these metrics without creating a conflict with the customer's desire for relevant engagement.”

Added Diangelo Tyler, director of online marketing at Thomson Reuters: “Keep in mind that the preference center is for the customer, and they hold the power of voice. The criteria for a truly customer-centric preference center is simplicity. As marketers we must honor the choices of our customers if we want to keep them engaged from that point forward.”
Satisfaction A Given--Engagement Now The Critical Differentiator
Our VoC research also indicated that relevance and personalization is viewed as a service and benefit, not just a sales tool.

“As marketers, more relevant, preference-driven communication ensures greater audience engagement and maximizes marketing efficiency,” Denice Hasty, SVP of consumer marketing at Comcast, told me. “I think governance and vetting the strategy and tactical plan across multiple business functions is key. Strong execution requires maximum coordination. One misstep can cause a really bad experience.”

B2B and B2C consumers understand that in order to receive more relevant information, they need to share personal information. Among ERDM clients, we have witnessed preference-based engagement drives consistent double-digit increases in response, revenue, and customer lifetime value.
Takeaways From Execs Who Have Been Through The Preference Center Experience
In summary, customer-focused preference centers are essential for encouraging customers and prospects to opt in and provide deep preference information. This also provides marketers with unprecedented amounts of rich and accurate customer data, which will drive dramatic increases in response, revenue and customer engagement.

Here’s what we’ve been told:

• Lenovo’s Downes: “It’s critical that we enter into the process with an open mind, accepting that we don’t have all the answers. We must be diligent in asking questions in an unobtrusive way and be willing to let the customer guide us in formulating a customer-centric preference center.”
• Thomson Reuters’ Tyler: “We did some market research ahead of deploying our new email preference center. Our objective was to determine what was most important to the customer. Simplicity was the conclusion. It was critical that we make it as quick and simple as possible for our customers to manage their preferences and marketers to get access to their permissions.”
• Comcast’s Hasty, SVP: “We are just scratching the surface of what we can do in this space. As our markets become increasingly fragmented on interests and needs, delivering the right message at the right time in the right way will be impossible without a solid preference management practice. Online, we believe in a value exchange–the best offers online to our most engaged online audiences, which also provide the best progressive profiling data to act upon in future interactions.”
In my next article, I’ll focus on specific tips and recommendations from CMOs and senior execs regarding preference center functions and experiences that are critical whether you are about to build a new center or make improvements to an existing preference center.

 
 


About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

he results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

Chick-fil-A, Splice Software and Why CEM Summit 2013 Was Special

When we booked Chick-fil-A’s Michael McCathren as a speaker for CEM Summit2013, we knew it was a good decision for the event. After all, Chick-fil-A is an extremely well-known brand and adding a speaker like Michael, their interactive digital marketing manager, would attract attendees and bring some pizzazz to the lineup.

Fast forward to the morning of Thursday, September 26, when Michael took the stage. Facing a roomful of CEOs, CMOs, technologists and marketers, he started speaking from his heart. Silence fell as listeners put down their coffees and iPads, leaned forward and started soaking up every word.

Michael spoke about seeing customers as people, individuals with unique stories. He challenged us to consider building relationships with customers that are much deeper than transactional coupons or deals, more sophisticated than demo segmentation or CRM categories. He reminded us of what loyalty really means and that every one of us could become advocates for transformational customer engagement within our own organizations.

 
Don’t take my word for it. Watch Michael’s presentation and see for yourself:
 
 
I was reminded of Michael’s presentation yesterday after reading a blog post from PossibleNOW’s valued partner Splice Software, a customer engagement technology provider based in Calgary (more than 850 miles from the nearest Chick-fil-A). Regional Sales Director Jeff Kryzanowski had never heard of the Atlanta-based chicken restaurant chain. In other words, Jeff wasn’t blown away by the brand in the way we had originally hoped when we planned the event. And it didn’t matter – the power of Michael’s words made a huge impact on Jeff and everyone else in attendance.

We’re grateful to Michael and Jeff and everyone else that made CEM Summit 2013 such a success. Presentations like Michael’s will be hard to top in 2014…but we’ll try. Keep checking the site, look for emails from us and mark your calendars for next year’s summit. Because someone there – from a brand you recognize or perhaps one you don’t – will share an idea with the potential to change the way you look at customers forever.  
 


Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOWand CompliancePoint. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace. 

With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today. 

              Follow me on Twitter: @EricTejeda | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Tejeda 

Pizza Hut: Preference Driven Communications and Pizzas

Today’s blog post is from Ernan Roman, one of the keynote speakers at the recent 2013 Customer Engagement Marketing Summit hosted by PossibleNOW. Ernan is a Marketing Hall of Fame inductee and well-known for his Voice of the Customer research. 

The Challenge: Many companies capture large quantities of customer data. But few use the data to deliver a competitively differentiating customer experience.
Pizza Hut is asking customers to provide their preferences and using that information to deliver preference driven communications and pizzas.
Recently, Pizza Hut shifted to more personalized customer interactions by segmenting its customer base into 6,000+ groups based on characteristics, purchase tendencies, and behavioral indicators. Juliana Lim, Senior Marketing Director for Pizza Hut, says, "We now run targeted campaigns built with intelligence around customers' preferred product categories, typical purchase times and channels of choice”. 
Here’s an overview:
  • Pizza Hut provided customers with a registration process to define their personal communication and pizza preferences and delivery instructions.

  • Customers can order online, via traditional call-in, via a mobile site, and even via an ordering app on an Xbox 360® system.
Online registration allows customers to get exclusive deals, save “fast favs” for quick reorders, and even set pre-orders for up to 7 days ahead.
Compared with Pizza Hut's former bulk promotions, this new preference driven communication process has generated:
  • A 200% jump in average campaign hit rates across customer segments,
  • A 38% improvement in Pizza Hut's customer retention rate,
  • A 9% increase in customer visit/purchase frequency in just seven months,
  • Up to 6% extra sales generated every month since the program started.
Findings from research conducted by our company ERDM, indicate that today’s savvy online shoppers understand that in order to receive more personalized offers and communications, they must provide more detailed personal preference information. If they trust the brand… they are willing to provide preference data in order to receive a significantly improved customer experience.
Additional research findings regarding preference based engagement and why consumers see it as a benefit:
  • They receive fewer communications that are not relevant.
  • Provides the flexibility to change their preferences as their needs or situations change.
  • Increases their awareness of product, offer and ordering options.
  • Allows them to spend less time looking for products.
Takeaways

  • Personalization is perceived as a service. Customers want the ability to set personalization preferences. So, tell your customers that true personalization is available and the benefits they will experience.
  • Customers want to be involved in their experience with your company. Customers want to contribute to, and define their relationship with your company. Make it easy for them to do so.
  • Consumers recognize that in order to receive relevant information, they must share increasing amounts of information regarding personalization and preferences. By providing a way for customers to tell you what they want from your company they will be more likely to open, engage with, and respond to, communications and offers.



About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

he results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

The Freakonomics of Preference Management

Two of my favorite books are Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics. Like millions of other readers, I was astonished by examples of simple economic principles at work in real life. Over and over again, people respond to simple incentives and disincentives, leading to very predictable behavior choices.

When I think about the Freakonomics in the context of my work, the parallels are obvious. The incentives and disincentives of preference management for enterprise organizations are pretty clear. Consumers reward companies that listen and learn (incentive) while consumers and the governing bodies that represent them punish companies that don’t respect privacy (disincentive). Both forces push businesses in the same direction: the adoption of smart, efficient preference management practices.
 
Consumers reward it (Forrester survey):
  • 78% improved ROI
  • 80% higher retention
  • 80% better campaign results
  • 89% higher customer satisfaction
Privacy requires it:
  • FCC and the TCPA - $11,000 per violation (call, email, text)
  • FTC and the TSR - $16,000 per violation (call, email, text)
Let’s take this a step further and consider preference management implementation. How do natural incentives and disincentives inform that process?
 
As noted in Freakonomics, consumers are driven by incentives, but not every incentive will drive every consumer to act. It boils down to value vs. convenience. One customer may not want to provide an email address in a profile because they think it will only lead to spam messages. But if an incentive is offered for giving that email, say a discount on a future purchase, there is more value in providing the address.
 
It’s the same with convenience. A customer may not want to create a profile including credit card data for a one-time purchase like a gift. But for sites where he makes regular purchases, the convenience of stored information is a time-saving benefit. Convenience may also translate to confidence. As customers interact with a company more frequently they tend to become more confident that my transactions are secure and that they honor my communications preferences.
 
Consumers want to decide how companies communicate with them and want personalized messages. Even in just the last 10 years, consumer behavior has shifted in significant ways. More consumers are buying online, or interacting with companies via social media over interacting in person. A robust and flexible preference center is necessary to manage customer data at a central point. This is the proverbial carrot, ­the reward or incentive to act.
 
At the same time, privacy regulations and global governments are requiring more stringent adherence to preferences. In the U.S. we have typically followed an opt-out protocol, it has been up to the customer to manage communications. Outside of the U.S. the burden is on the company to obtain permission to contact. The changes for mobile communications in the U.S. are the first step towards increased regulations. And the penalties for non-compliance can be steep, from single-violation fines to the potential for class-action suits. This is the proverbial stick ­ the powerful disincentive to continuing with business as usual.
 
It doesn’t take an award-winning economist to see how preference management is critical to engagement and risk mitigation. But it’s fun to look at the problem/opportunity through the Freakonomics lens and see it in a new light.


 
About the Author: 
Rob Tate is the Director of Enterprise Sales at PossibleNOW.






The Sales Funnel is Dead


Today’s blog post is from Ernan Roman, one of the keynote speakers at the recent 2013 Customer Engagement Marketing Summit hosted by PossibleNOW. Ernan is a Marketing Hall of Fame inductee and well-known for his Voice of the Customer research. 


A circle of continuous engagement is born.
 
We all grew up with the sales funnel. You know, the one where the company was in control and pushed the prospect through the sales grinder. Well, it's dead.
 
The good news is that it's been buried by empowered customers who don't see the sale as a “close”, but as the beginning of deeper value and engagement.
 
According to voice of the customer research we conducted, ongoing value and engagement post-sale are critical for retaining today's empowered consumers. During the past 12 months we included the following question in many of our research efforts: Which has more impact on retention and repeat purchases: customer satisfaction or customer engagement/relationship?

The answer was consistent across our B2B and B2C research: Engagement/relationship strength has 12 times more influence on retention and repeat purchases than satisfaction. Basic satisfaction is now table stakes. Today's consumers expect that the sale is just the beginning of a journey of increasingly personalized and sustained engagement.
 
The Traditional Funnel
The traditional sales funnel was created to “drive a sale” to closure. It worked—until customers decided that they were empowered to exert their preferences regarding how, when, and where they wanted to engage pre and post-sale.

Circle of Continuous Engagement
Given the tough economic times, companies recognize that increasing retention and renewal rates is more important than ever. Therefore, ongoing engagement post-sale is critical. This has caused today's sales process to become a circle focused on driving engagement over time. This circle encompasses three key phases of the customer lifecycle:
Pre-Sale

  • Focus on providing easy, hassle-free, personalized solutions.
  • Learn customers' opt-in messaging and communication preferences.
  • Engage customers across the multichannel mix.

Sale
  • Don't “close.” Instead, think of the sale as the beginning of proactive, value-based relationship development.
Growth and Retention
  • Develop a plan for ongoing proactive engagement, i.e. “How can we better serve you?”
  • Provide an ongoing value –add, which justifies a price premium.
  • Be relevant. Communications must be highly personalized, targeted, and delivered or accessed across the multichannel mix.
However, a note of caution: many companies are still not equipped to deliver this level of ongoing and multichannel engagement. In the 2013 benchmarking study by the Retail Systems Research (RSR) Institute, Retailing: Omni-Channel Approach Central to Strategies in 2013, 54% of respondents indicate that they do not have a view of customers across channels.

DHL Solves Problems to Grow

DHL is one company that has cultivated a commitment to being customer focused. It has developed processes that solve problems and create goodwill at every touchpoint—and and at every part of the shipping continuum. For example, it integrated formerly stand-alone business units to provide solutions and to support customers more effectively, and developed specific industry know-how and solution segments that specialize in providing niche service by industry to address specific customer concerns.  By adopting this customer-centric approach, the company increased profit from operating activities in the first half of 2013 by 7.8%.

The Key Takeaways

1. Shift from the obsolete sales funnel to a customer lifecycle view.
Focus on developing ever-deeper relationships with your customers across their ongoing customer experience with your company. 

2. Be actively engaged with prospects during their decision journey.
Provide easy-to-find information, access to reviews, etc., to enable prospects to evaluate your company, product, and services against others they're considering. Opinion influencers—such as product reviews, ratings, and testimonials—are critical. In addition, provide convenient contact resources, such as online chat that answers questions, while prospects are still on your website. This high-level of value and service sets an important tone at the beginning of the customer life cycle.

3. Understand your customer's journey from pre-sale to post-sale.
Understanding the factors that make customers want to purchase from you--and then stay with you after the sale—lets you highlight your company benefits and use these key selling points in your marketing. Put in place the means by which customers can easily access information and help along the way from pre- through post-sale phases.

4. Be easily accessible across channels.
Consumers are shopping via multiple channels and devices often at the same time. Don't create barriers by being unavailable or making it difficult to engage across the channels your customers prefer.

5. Don't forget about customers after you ring the register.
Keep customers actively engaged via preference-driven, personalized communications and experiences. Provide ongoing information to improve their lives, solicit feedback, and stimulate purchases of relevant new and add-on products. Make your customers feel as though they are a part of your company's community through a multichannel relationship-focused continuous cycle of engagement.


 

 
About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

he results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

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