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3 Factors to Help Ensure You’re Collecting Preferences the Best Way

Type: Blog
Topic: Customer Experience

So, you’ve implemented a way to collect your customers’ preferences. Congratulations! This is a huge accomplishment. But what now? How can you tell if it’s helping meet your goals? What ARE your goals? Does the system need improving? How can you tell if the process is working as well as it could be?

In the beginning, the focus of the conversation around preference management had been how to define it and how to get started. Specifically, which unique customer characteristics were important to track:

  • product interest
  • communication channel preference (like mobile phones or email)
  • and frequency of communication.

Companies also had to figure out:

  • how to collect the data
  • how to maintain and store the data and
  • how to distribute and share the data within their company.

This made sense, since the idea of collecting customer preferences hadn’t been around for very long. But now this leaves industry-leading companies in a puzzling position. Now that they have a system, they don’t quite know what to do next.

Overall, the preference management challenge for leading companies has changed from implementing it to improving it.

When implementing preference strategies, companies often have to assume things about user experience:

  • copy or content on the page
  • design, or how the page looks and feels to the user
  • placement of the preference area on the page
  • and timing – when is the user prompted for preferences?

Often these assumptions need to be changed or corrected over time. Also, technology evolves and new communication channels appear. When something new or better is available, consumers change the way they want to interact with companies.

Once the tools and technology are in place to collect preferences, they need testing. Based on how the tools perform, companies can change and adapt.

However, marketers and technologists have to keep a few key factors in mind:

  • All the elements of preference interaction are related and influence each other.
    1. A bad design can override good content, OR
    2. Good placement or timing can help hide flawed content, etc.

    When evaluating how the whole system works, marketers must look at the whole system (makes sense, right?). For example, what percentage of opens, clicks and conversations did you gain? Determine if results are less than expected at any given point and fine tune that step.

  • Remember that your customer views the company as a single entity. They don’t see a collection of separate departments or services. So, when analyzing how they interact with you, realize that they don’t see a bunch of departments – only one. Said another way, if a car dealership sends out information about an upcoming sale and the service department sends out service reminders, be sure to coordinate those communications in both style and timing.
  • Know what your goals for the system are. How can you analyze how well it works if you don’t know what you want to achieve? If your goals are unclear, the results of your analysis will also be unclear. Take a landing page for instance, a typical goal would be to provide a compelling Call-To-Action that causes the visitor to fill out the form. What percentage conversation rate do you consider successful?

The main goal of analyzing the system should be to make a case for improving customer engagement. Improve your relationships with your customers by including them in the conversation. You can start a positive cycle – the better you understand your customers, the more they’ll engage with you!



About the Author: 

Eric V. Holtzclaw is  Chief Strategist  of PossibleNOW. He’s a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. Check out his book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior – Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.

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

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