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Omnichannel Serves Customers at Crucial Points

We're collecting more and more data every day, through every channel. And many believe that such a vast amount of data will somehow add up to reveal a consistent identity – a unified picture of a consumer that can aid personalization and customer experience initiatives.

I hate to break the news, but that's an over-exaggeration. Data can't be a game-changer for your company unless your data is organized. Without cross-channel identification, all the data in the world can't array itself into a neat, synchronized snapshot of your customer when it really counts.

This often comes to a head when customers reach out to companies, and that's almost always in search of assistance – a time when they're expecting a certain level of service that anticipates their needs. Those moments are decisive in the customer's journey!

But the inability to anticipate and react to customer needs quickly leads to a sub-par customer experience. And a bad customer experience means a lost customer more often than not. In fact, a report by Ovum found that 82 percent of consumers in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the US said they would stop doing business with a company following a bad customer experience.

These obstacles are best addressed with preference management, which benefits the company in ways that prevent and minimize the potential for poor customer experience interactions, while also boosting marketing outreach efforts.

Preference management, the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication, is an essential tool in creating seamless user experiences, customer engagement and, most importantly, a whole picture where there were once just pieces.

Data fragmentation can be an overwhelming challenge for marketers – but it also burdens the rest of the company at critical points in the customer journey. Without cross-channel identification and wide views of the consumer, the company is left with pieces of the puzzle that never quite add up, leaving themselves open to poor customer interactions at those important moments. Having a lot of data is one thing, knowing how to connect it is another.

Is your data supporting the best customer experiences possible? Or are you losing consumers at crucial moments?

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

Tumi's CDO Answers 4 Questions For Digital Innovators

Charlie Cole, chief digital officer of Tumi, has been overseeing and developing the luggage and travel accessory brand's global e-commerce and digital platforms since 2015. When Samsonite acquired Tumi last year, he also took on the official role of global chief e-commerce officer, which includes oversight of global strategy for brands such as Samsonite, American Tourister, Hartmann, Gregory, and High Sierra.

Prior to Tumi, Cole held various leadership positions, including CEO of The Line and head of e-commerce for Lucky Brand and Schiff Nutrition.

Cole recently participated in our "4 Questions for Digital Innovators" series.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
The balance of art and science in marketing is the single most important topic to make sure I am open to being self-critical and constantly evolving my thinking. When I was younger, I believed that nothing was more sacrosanct than listening to the numbers, and if you did that, you'd be fine. However, I've realized that at a premium brand, in particular, everything starts with creative and merchandising–and your job as a marketer is to support that, not overrule that.

This requires reciprocation. Merchandisers and creative directors need to be open to analytical feedback and evolve as well. I have framed this to other people as: Creative and merchandising set the guardrails, and it is my job to widen those guardrails as much as possible through education provided by the digital marketing sphere.

This is a big ask for a lot of marketers: You're not the center of the universe, and you are, in fact, a service department. It's very normal for marketers to be fairly exalted in business because we get to do a lot of sexy stuff. But, in reality, we are a support industry, not the driving function.

2. Why is this so important?
You can't be binary. You are seeing the ultimate personification of this taking place in the e-commerce ecosystem today. Amazon–arguably the greatest analytically driven company in history–is struggling to penetrate the luxury market. Brands rightfully fear Amazon's completely democratic approach to brand protection. While this may be a bit unpopular to say, great brands still drive the conversation. Yes, social listening and feedback is important, but the fact of the matter is people still wait for truly special brand newness.

If you are not self-aware and don't evolve, you will lose. The scariest thing? We're not talking about losing your job. We're talking about losing your career. If all you are is a brand marketer who can't listen to numbers or just a brilliant analytical marketer with no respect for the brand you're supporting, you're a dinosaur and more likely already dead.

3. How can this improve the customer experience?
The customer is the big winner. You get creativity, inspiration, and aspiration, and then it's mixed with evolution and personalization as you engage with the brand further. My mom bought me a pair of Air Jordans when I was 9 years old, and now I'm 34 and can design my own Nikes! Talk about a win for me.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Customers will get what they didn't expect, what they didn't know they needed, and then practically give you the playbook on how to continue to market to them. For companies, you have to let your artists take the first guess; that's their job. Raw, pure creation. From there you can invest in iteration–which means investing in analytics plus science. If you balance those two things, you are letting people do what they do best. The biggest challenge for a larger company culture is to instill the trust throughout the organization to drive a collaborative environment between two types of people who think completely differently.

Bonus Question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
Well, it's 70 degrees and sunny outside, so that may be influencing this answer a little bit, but I would say my absolute favorite thing to do is to sit on my back porch with my wife, throw the stick for our lab Tucker, and watch him romp around while sipping on a nice, dry rosé. Yup, that's the ticket.

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: