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Begin with Compliance for a Complete Conversation

Once companies have a grasp of what communications their customers are receiving, and why, it might be time to take a step back and reflect. But that doesn't mean your communications should suffer – in fact, drilling down and considering the ways in which you initiated relationships with your customers could provide more opportunities to respond to them.

Too often, companies want to initiate more conversations with their customers, but they err on the cautious side, not knowing whether their compliance language allows for new communications. They may decide not to send any communications at all. While caution should be used if your company truly isn't sure of their communication permissions, the best way to figure out what you can send to your customers is to go back to the original compliance language on what they've already agreed to receive.

If compliance information has been properly managed and stored from across the organization, then companies should be able to determine the ways in which they can talk to their customers in the future. However, if that information hasn't been managed, it's an opportunity for your company to reconsider whether it's time to revise compliance language, organizational storage, and ways to improve the overall customer experience.

This short video explains the ways in which communications compliance helps your company listen, remember and respond to customers.

When you think about compliance, think about the ways in which it creates more opportunities for you to give your customers what they're asking for – a real conversation. If you can remember what they want to receive, then you can respond correctly and in a compliant manner.

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

Smart dancing shoes make sure you don't have two left feet

Leveraging the Internet of Things for a little bit of boogie, a new startup crowdfunding campaign aims to bring smart shoes to the uncoordinated masses. Dubbed "Rhythm Shoes," wearers get vibrations and real-time guidance to learn dance steps. Sensors help users analyze their progress and the shoes synch with an app that can provide visuals. Click here to read more. 

Netflix will reportedly launch a choose-your-own-adventure show later this year

Content creator and streaming service Netflix is reportedly developing programming that will allow viewers to control the plot lines of shows. A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the company's exploration of interactive shows. The technology would allow viewers to choose to follow certain narratives or choose different linear plots. Click here to read more.

Lyft offers ride hailing for developers to use in their apps

While on-demand ride-hailing service Lyft has already provided third-party integration, this month marks a move toward new ways to call a car. Using a dispatch developer program, the company allows its services to be used by those without a smartphone or Lyft account. The new integration options mark a business transition toward logistics rather than transportation. Click here to read more.

Pizza Hut Made 'Pie Tops,' With a Button on the Tongue to Order Pizza, for March Madness

The bar is raised. The pizza is on the way. In celebration of March Madness, Pizza Hut teamed up with the custom sneaker maker Dominic Chambrone. By pressing a pizza icon on the tongue of limited-edition high top sneakers, wearers are connected with a Pie Tops app to order pizza. While anyone can access the Pie Tops app through multiple smart devices, only 64 pairs of the Pie Top-connected sneakers were made. Click here to read more.

Self-Driving Cars Might Need Standards, but Whose?

As self-driving car technology gets closer to consumer release, developers and automotive engineers will need to find common ground on platforms and materials. Centralization could bring cost savings and standardization could affect software choices. Industry titans, however, are opposed to one-size-fits-all systems, saying they'd inhibit innovation. 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

Close the Communications Loop

So you've already consulted the matrix and have a more well-rounded idea of what communications your customers are already getting from your company. Now it's time to consider the types of conversations you're having with customers, and the methods by which you determine those conversations.

Think about the ways your company can listen, remember and respond to your customer. If you're interested in sending them a new piece of communication, what are the ways you might assess who to send it to? If you're listening, you can do one of two things – you could come right out and ask your customers what they'd like to receive, or you could use their behavior and interactions to suggest additional communications they'd like to receive.

The former requires remembering and responding as your customers. The latter requires a closed-loop relationship – in other words, a way to correct the conversation, like an opt-down.

This short video explains how you can know what your customers want and why a closed-loop relationship helps your company listen, remember and respond.

By taking your customers' preferences into account throughout your enterprise, you can move from explicit to implicit conversations. Ready to learn more? Browse our Resource Center for information on customer preferences and how to store, share, and react to them.

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

Your Data Is Your Strategic Firewall Against Competition

"Rivals cannot unlock or simulate your data. Data is the defensible barrier—not algorithms." These are the words of Andrew Ng of Chinese search giant Baidu in a recent New York Times article.

The article also stated: "For decades, dominance in the technology industry was based on software or hardware. Now it is increasingly based on who owns the best data."

Data Is A Competitive Advantage—If Used To Improve Customer Experience
Data is the competitive differentiator in terms of preference-driven customer experience and personalization. It is also a strategic firewall against competition.

Your competition cannot duplicate or simulate your data. But data sitting idly in your servers or used only for sales messaging will not catapult your company to the next level. It is the customer insights in your data that are your competitive uniqueness. Success will be based not only on the quality of data, but its creative utilization.

In an Infosys whitepaper, "Transforming Big Data Analytics into a Competitive Advantage for Insurers," it was noted: "Having access to rich sources of data and using that data to enable effective decision-making are two separate aspects."

Per VoC research conducted by our firm, today's personalization is broken. It relies on implicit data, i.e., web browsing behavior, data mined from social media, data modeling, and purchase-based behaviors. These are not providing the necessary depth of information to drive relevant communications and offers. As a result, most attempts at personalization simply do not drive the expected increases in response.

Marketers must now make a profound shift and move to human data, which is based on explicit, self-profiled, opt-in preference data. Human data personalization is unique in that it lends itself to segmentation based on self-described personality types, attitudes, and life stages. Human data-based personalization is consistently driving double-digit response rates.

New Data Collaboration Partnerships Are Essential
The acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft was an innovative strategic data-based move. With the acquisition, Microsoft can now leverage the approximately 467 million names in LinkedIn's database to market its products, such as Office 365. According to Bill Phillips, vice president business applications at Microsoft, the LinkedIn database along with other sources "will power a set of insights that we think is unprecedented."

Realizing the importance of the data it has mined, Progressive Insurance joined forces with European insurance company The Generali Group to enter into a research and development collaboration to improve their individual data analytics capabilities.

"Collaborating internationally with Generali allows us to further expand and deepen our customer insights," said Pat Callahan, personal lines president of Progressive Insurance. And Valter Trevisani, chief insurance officer of Generali, said: "The collaboration with Progressive allows Generali to accelerate the execution of the strategy in regards to connected insurance and advanced analytics."

Advanced Human Data: The Ultimate Tool For Preference And Customization
In a McKinsey & Company report, the following points were noted:

  • "Advanced data analytics is a means to an end. It's a discriminating tool to identify, and then implement, a value-driving answer. And you're much likelier to land on a meaningful [answer] if you're clear on the purpose of your data."
  • "The impact of big data analytics is often manifested by ... incrementally small improvements. If an organization can atomize a single process into its smallest parts and implement advances where possible, the payoffs can be profound."

There is a consumer expectation gap between what consumers want delivered and what is actually being presented to them. In findings from our own VoC research, we have identified the following requirements:

  • Marketers must rethink data strategies to provide "smart" personalization that goes past short-term implicit data to long-term, relationship-building human data.
  • Every department and channel must respect customer preferences.
  • B2B and B2C customers are willing to provide trusted brands with deep business and personal information in exchange for more personalized offers and communications.

Sportswear manufacturer Adidas has committed to improving customer relationships by merging previously siloed data to enable the company to move away from atomistic bits of data to an interconnected 360-degree approach. Per senior project manager Sokratis Kartelias, the data overhaul uses "shared metadata service to deliver the most compelling, relevant, and relatable content to the right consumers. The company plans to do this by processing their consumers' responses database to continually update personalization to be as relevant as possible."

For years, data was something collected and used primarily for outbound sales. Recently, marketers are expanding the vast possibilities that human data provides for customer insights, product development, new channels of engagement, deep-level personalization, and so much more. This high-value data will help propel your business to the next level and serve as a formidable firewall against competition.

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: