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Deck the Halls & Check Your Data

Grumbling about holiday d├ęcor in your local store? You're not alone. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Americans agree. A Creditcards.com poll showed that 73 perfect of polled adults agreed with the statement "it is annoying that the holiday shopping season has gotten earlier." Yet that doesn't mean they're boycotting the shopping lists – in fact 14 percent of survey respondents said they had started holiday shopping. One percent says they're already finished!

The good news is that aside from the over-achieving 1 percent of holiday shoppers, the rest are either at it already or about to be. As marketers, we've got work to do. Since the majority of shopping takes place in the month of December, right now marks the point at which you should be double-checking that your customer-facing systems are presenting a cohesive message to consumers. Avoiding unnecessary frustrations across touchpoints ensures they have a unified experience across platforms. Over time, your trustworthiness and familiarity proves that consumers can return to your brand for many of their holiday needs.



But even more important than the immediate to-do is following up on any advances you've put into place to capture consumer preferences. Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, is the best way to encourage customers to engage with you on their terms. By acting on data provided by customers themselves throughout the year, you're able to shape and build relationships over time. Which means that come holiday shopping season, even that one percent of earlybird shoppers will have made their purchases thanks to guidance and communications from you that reflect their stated needs.

Another finding of the same survey? "Younger shoppers are also more likely to welcome an earlier start to the holidays. About one-third of millennials said they are not annoyed by early holiday shopping, double the rate of baby boomers... Not surprisingly, millennials are the most excited about shopping via mobile. One in five people ages 18 to 35 said their mobile devices would be their primary way to shop for the holidays."

That contingent represents a massive opportunity to coordinate across touchpoints for preferences. By offering personalization, time-saving opportunities or anticipatory answers to questions, you can be the big win in a hectic season that ends all too quickly.



Ninety-nine percent of customers are waiting for you. Have you spent the year earning your spot on their must-shop list?




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 - hit bookstores in the summer of 2013. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.


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

Is Your Brand Committed To A Personalized Customer Experience? (Part 2)

Recently I wrote about how to determine whether your company is truly committed to personalizing the customer experience (CX) and building loyalty. I presented the first half of eight questions to ask yourself; now I offer the rest.

My goal: to help you develop the strategies, action plans, and employee initiatives to satisfy unprecedented customer expectations for high-value engagement, personalization, and loyalty.

Question 5: Do you have in place the necessary CX/loyalty/CRM technology to connect with customers?
"Forward-looking organizations are making strides by focusing on three key ingredients: technology, data, and ownership," said Jefrey Gomez, managing director, Asia Pacific at Econsultancy, in this B&T article. Michael Kustreba, managing director of Epsilon, Asia Pacific, agreed: "The good news is that there are valuable insights from data, technology and proven methodologies that organizations can adopt to help them improve their customer experience delivery."

Case in point: Online retailer Zappos has devised "Zappos Labs," which focuses on solving consumers' pain points and creating optimized customer experiences across all channels. The brand's mobile app allows consumers to send Zappos employees a photograph of items seen on the street via text, email, or Instagram. A link is then sent back to the consumer to purchase it online.

Additionally, Zappos' customer service agents are reminded of their CX commitment with a "Happiness Experience Form," which reminds them to attempt at least two personal connections with consumers throughout interactions to address any needs and provide an "overall wow experience."

Action Items:
  • Examine the technology your company has in place to see what measures can be put in place right now to boost CX, such as reminders to staff, per the Zappos example. Also, explore how you can expand the technical capabilities and possibilities at each touch point to deliver improved CX.
  • Audit for the necessary level of collaboration of information sharing across the various departments and systems.

Question 6: Do you have a dedicated budget for new research to drive innovative CX/loyalty strategies?
Per research conducted by Epsilon, "Only 7% of companies have a single, dedicated budget for understanding the customer journey, and 27% have a dedicated budget split across different departments."

Jonathan Serebrin, user experience researcher for The Home Depot, advises that companies include all teams in research results and learnings to make them part of the company culture. Make sure that all departments understand how customers feel about the brand and products, he said. Every step of the testing and development process needs to assure synchronization with customers.

While CMOs are now understanding that a dedicated CX budget is essential to transformation, in the "Spotlight On 2016 CX Helps And Hurts" study by Forrester, a notation was made regarding budgets: "CMOs won't simply write blank checks. Instead they'll require CX teams to prove that their projects improve key performance indicators that marketers care about, like customer acquisition and engagement."

Action Items:
  • Take a closer look at carving out a slice of digital, social, marketing, sales, and IT budgets for one combined CX budget. Rather than depleting one department's funds, multiple stakeholder departments should contribute to the overall CX cause.
  • Be sure you have in place a solid benchmark of customer value and how/when milestones can be measured so that budget investments can be justified or adjusted in the future.

Question 7: Do the highest levels of management in your company support CX programs and staff?
The "Shifting Sands Of Marketing: Gartner 2015-2016 CMO Spend Survey" reported, "Business leaders understand that consumer expectations for fast, informative, convenient, and personalized transactions will continue to grow and that staying ahead of the competition is paramount."

And according to the Forrester/Heidrick & Struggles "2016 Evolved CMO report," "Evolved CMOs will need to commit to understanding customers and to driving that philosophy throughout their organizations with a customer-obsessed mindset."

Action Items:
  • In order for CX to succeed in your company, it is essential that there is buy in and commitment from every involved department at all levels.
  • CX innovation is a top-down change process.
  • However, it is marketing's responsibility to provide the vision and criteria for success.

Question 8: Does your company have a cross-functional and integrated culture?
The Deloitte "Global Human Capital Trends 2016" report stated that in today's evolving marketplace, companies need to adopt a new organizational structure to be more of a "network of teams" with strong communication and rapid information flow cross functionally. Additional data points from the report include:
  • 92% of companies said they believe redesigning the organization is very important. More than 80% of respondents reported that they are either currently restructuring their organizations or have recently completed the process.
  • The growth of the Millennial demographic, the diversity of global teams, and the need to innovate and work more closely with customers are driving a new organizational flexibility.

Action Items:
  • Understand what employees can bring to your CX efforts and place them in mission-focused teams by their contribution potential and experience.
  • Empower teams to set their own goals and make their own decisions in order to achieve CX goals.
  • Replace silos of information with information sharing cross functionally.



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.

The 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 One Thing Mobile Wallets Lack

Mobile wallets are on the rise for certain segments of the population, but they haven't yet taken off at the rate some were hoping, and no single mobile wallet has emerged as a go-to option for users. So what's lacking in the consumer's eyes? A recent survey of 1,500 consumers by Points, "The State of Mobile Wallet Loyalty and Engagement in 2016," had one particular finding that illuminated a pathway to higher engagement.

More than 94 percent of consumers said they would use a mobile wallet more frequently if they could earn and redeem loyalty points and miles with every transaction. This proves that the idea of convenience isn't enough for consumers to change habits – mobile wallets needs to offer added benefits.

Yet another study found that mobile loyalty reminders drive in-store traffic. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. respondents and 58 percent of U.K. respondents are likely to visit a store if they receive coupon reminders when they're near a store's location and the coupon is soon to expire.

These two data points suggest that mobile wallet users would rather feel even more integrated with their loyalty programs while they're untethered from a bulky wallet or bag. This means that mobile wallet technology has to integrate more omnichannel opportunities using preference management.

Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication can help mobile wallet developers access consumers' loyalty memberships and create opportunities for customers to engage. By collecting and leveraging this data, consumers could and should be alerted to existing deals that they're eligible to receive, and would be doubly rewarded for their follow-through with additional loyalty points. Integrations like these would bring in the rest of the population – the less tech-savvy and those looking for deals – and be a welcome option for those already experimenting with mobile wallets.




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 - hit bookstores in the summer of 2013. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.


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

ICYMI – Preferences, Privacy and Personalization in the News

Google now tells you when to book cheap flights and hotel rooms

Google's latest update to its travel tools includes improved information on pricing and predictive data that helps users decide if and when to purchase a flight. Using fares, historical data, and nearby airports or alternative travel dates, the notifications can suggest ways to find cheaper trips. Click here to read more. 


Your Phone's on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show.

Comedians, musicians and other entertainers are using special lockable pouches with phone-limiting technology by Yondr. While phones are enclosed, users are unable to use their phone – either taking a distracting call or making recordings of the performances. The pouches can be unlocked when the show is over and are gaining in popularity at schools, restaurants, wedding venues and movie screenings. Click here to read more.


Watch Charlie Rose interview a realistic-looking robot and ask her if she has feelings

Sophia, a robot with realistic facial expressions, moving lips and blinking eyes, has been programmed with enough artificial intelligence to converse about human emotions and her capability to feel them. Click here to read more.

Clinton camp resurrects dead Facebook tool

In 2012, the reelection campaign for President Barack Obama was able to leverage a Facebook tool that synchronized contact lists between phone contacts and users' Facebook friends. Two years ago Facebook removed the feature, which had allowed users to contact friends with campaign messages via personal text. However, the Clinton campaign has replicated the method using Facebook's iPhone app. Click here to read more.


How incentives are key to driving mobile wallet use

A survey by Points found that mobile wallets are gaining in popularity, with nearly 64 percent of consumers saying they've used one in the past year. One improvement users are after is integration with loyalty programs, and centralization for memberships in multiple loyalty programs. Click here to read more. 






Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW and 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

Is Your Brand Committed To A Personalized Customer Experience? (Part 1)

Too many companies are still struggling to achieve deep and high-value relationships with customers. As a result, churn, attrition, and high opt-out rates continue to be significant problems. This is especially true among Millennial customers, who expect unprecedented levels of value and personalization from brands.

These findings are based on results from more than 160 VoC research studies our firm, ERDM, has conducted for brands such as Microsoft, HP, MassMutual, Gilt, and QVC.

In response to requests from CMOs, who are understandably frustrated and concerned by these persistent issues, we prepared eight questions to help determine whether your company is truly committed to personalizing the customer experience (CX) and building loyalty.

This article will be presented in two parts. Here are the first four questions, along with some possible answers and action items.

Question 1: What is your company's true appetite for CX and loyalty transformation?
According to Mike Polner, director of product marketing for Five Stars, a mobile loyalty app provider: "The most successful businesses ensure their staff is engaged and understand the value of loyalty."

And according to Jeroen Hoencamp, CEO of Vodafone UK: "Transformation needs to take place both internally and externally. ... Listening to customers and understanding customer value from their perspective will allow customer-centric transformation to take place."

Action Items:
  • Your brand culture and senior management need to support CX and loyalty initiatives by creating a customer-focused culture, customer-focused metrics, CX-based compensation, integrated consumer communication across all touch points, and an adequate CX budget allocation.
  • Keep the company engaged in the CX journey by establishing formal and regular means of providing the organization with progress report cards and performance against CX metrics.


Question 2: Do your fellow execs have a deep understanding of why you are focusing on CX and loyalty?
Brands that have successful consumer engagement strategies put consumer understanding at the top of their priority lists.

Bloomingdale chairman and CEO Tony Spring noted that consumer understanding is paramount in every aspect of the company's marketing. Here are some key quotes:

  • "This is the age of empowered consumers. We need to connect with customers on their terms."
  • "Consumers demand personalization and privacy. It’s a push-and-pull thing. We must instill trust as we build our relationship with our customers."

Additionally, John Gerhardt, senior vice president, creative branding direction, at LVMH-owned DFS Group, noted: "Every person has a story to tell about where their loyalty lies, and we were thrilled to explore that concept ... to celebrate and thank our customers for the immense loyalty they show us. ... We wanted to celebrate the value of loyalty, which is at the core of all these experiences."

Action Items:

  • A CX program without a clear-cut goal is a useless CX program. Know what you want to accomplish by engaging your customers, understand what engagement actually means to your customers, and understand what it will take to accomplish this goal.
  • Define the criteria for evaluating the success of your CX and loyalty strategies. Set benchmarks and determine what factors and data will be monitored on a regular basis to determine progress, success, and improvements.


Question 3: Do you have the right data, metrics, and segments to measure CX impact and success?
In structuring its loyalty program, Safeway examined many data factors, some of which were surprising. Here is an important note from the agency that structured the program: "You will run the danger of cannibalizing your business by giving rewards to people who are going to shop with you anyway. ... It is better to target your programs mainly to those whose behavior you want to change."

Prior to instituting the program, Safeway surveyed its customers and asked: How much do you spend on groceries every week, and where else do you shop? Answers were combined with the actual spending data to determine Safeway's "share of wallet" and gain understanding of new opportunities that could be uncovered with a loyalty program.

Action Items:

  • How are consumers interacting with your brand? Does your data provide that answer? If not, it's time to rethink how you collect and interpret incoming information to be sure that the data you are collecting is useful and brings actual insights to drive marketing initiatives.
  • Reinvent your data to put consumers into segments based on preferences, purchases, communication methods, inquiries/customer service issues, lapsed, new, loyal, etc. Then rethink communication and engagement strategies for each segment, not for customers in general.


Question 4: Does your staff have the right CX and loyalty skills, and do you have a customer advisory group?
Nick Mehta, CEO of marketing firm Gainsight, noted that having a dedicated customer success team, as well as a group of consumer advocates, is a necessity for building successful loyalty and CX. "The customer success team should be your eyes and ears. ... CS can tell you which users love using your service. ... Many times, users can offer informal advocacy and on-the-ground feedback that decision makers can’t. In addition, there are usually far more users than decision makers."

Action Items:

  • Who on your team could offer customer success insights? Take a look at your entire staff and hand pick representatives who can report on real-life CX interactions, problems, and successes for key learnings that can prompt new actions.
  • Arrange a consumer advocacy program with your most engaged customers to gain insights on how and why consumers are or aren't motivated to engage with the brand.


Part 1 Takeaways

  1. Active consumer listening with a goal of deep understanding is a key element of CX transformation because it lets brands look at touch points and interactions from a value-driven experience standpoint that cultivates ongoing loyalty, not just an end-point transaction goal.
  2. Building CX means building trust. If consumers do not trust a brand or trust that the brand will deliver value or appreciation for their loyalty, the consumer will go elsewhere for a better experience.
  3. Correct data interpretation is essential in developing CX innovation. True understanding of who and how consumers interact with the brand will shape every strategy, communication, and the CX program's success.
  4. Put together a customer success team with representatives from all aspects of CX and loyalty so that your company can continually have a 360-degree view of engagement wins and losses. Cultivate consumer advocacy so that you are regularly receiving input from those who interact with the brand most.



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.

The 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/

MyPreferences 2.0 Debuts

When we introduced MyPreferences in 2011 it was designed to consolidate the collection, management and reporting of consumer preferences from an entire enterprise into a centralized system that seamlessly integrates with a company's CRM and marketing automation systems. MyPreferences cemented our reputation as the leading provider of customer engagement and enterprise preference management solutions.

Five years later, we've released an updated version with groundbreaking improvements. MyPreferences 2.0 continues to enhance customer engagement and provide enterprise preference management solutions, with added control and customization features designed to help marketers improve customer engagement.

Our new version offers marketers unprecedented control over the data that defines how their companies communicate with customers and prospects. It was designed for the permission-based, personalized future of marketing. The newest release continues a tradition of product innovation with new administration, analysis and international utilization capabilities.

The new features include:

Preference Manager – the next-generation application for preference management administration. Supports all your preference and consent management configuration needs. Built with an intuitive interface and responsive design that supports multiple device types.

Customizable/Extendable Data Model – leverage newly deployed custom property capabilities for driving customized user experiences across Lines of Business, Product Lines, Customer Types, or any other preference segments. User Interface driven setup and management, and API driven access.

Business Rules Repository – leverage preference manager User Interface expressing business rules capable of driving jurisdictional specific implementations, and designing multi-channel preference capture strategies that support compliance globally.

Advanced Data Segmentation & Data Export – leverages a powerful and flexible query builder with an easy-to-use user interface for constructing preference data segments, applying custom filters, and defining relationships between segment groups to feed into data export schedules for deep or wide data export.

Internationalization – an enhancement to existing capacities that enables organizations to personalize preference collection user interfaces by driving the user interface language associated with the use of custom or industry standard locales.



Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW and 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

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