Topic: Customer Experience
It’s great to be the big kid on the block–fat budgets, top talent, vast infrastructure, and all that goes with being an established, enterprise-class competitor.
Yet with all of that clout, many national brands struggle mightily with building and sustaining customer engagement. That’s because they don’t know how to connect with individual customers, learn from the interaction, and make that knowledge available to anyone else inside the company who might need it.
One area of particular struggle is customer consent and preferences: collecting, storing, and leveraging unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference, and frequency of communication. On its most basic level, customer engagement comes down to listening, learning and giving people what they want, when they want it. Seems simple, right?
In reality, it’s a complex challenge for companies with multiple business units, departments, communication channels, and databases. Uncertain of how to solve it, enterprises plod forward with half-measures and band-aids owned by different groups within the organization–with predictable results.
Here are the top five challenges enterprise CMOs, CTOs and customer experience teams encounter as they solve the customer engagement challenge.
1. It’s hard to organize and synthesize customer information when it flows through so many disparate channels.
Small companies can rely on a single website preference center or an ESP (email service provider) opt-out solution. However, large companies are faced with dozens, if not hundreds, of customer-facing systems and interfaces.
For enterprises with multiple (and expanding) customer touchpoints, the solution must be a unified preference management system that connects to all channels and seamlessly aggregates information to present a holistic picture of the customer.
2. Each individual consent and preference collection point must be optimized for its unique situation.
Effective collection of preferences relies on recognizing where the interaction is taking place. In other words, a 22-question form will perform miserably on a mobile device and is a detriment to customer experience, while a three-question cycle at the conclusion of a successful product support interaction may not be deep enough. An enterprise preference management system must recognize and take into account the distinction between each channel and type of interaction in order to deliver effective engagement intelligence.
3. Preference data must not be siloed.
A big problem facing customer-centric enterprises is the necessity to centralize preference management and integrate with marketing databases, CRM systems, and third-party vendors in order to empower the organization with preference data. This is easier said than done in an enterprise with legacy infrastructure that segregates information by department, product, region, and more. It’s not uncommon for these siloes to be further impacted by noncompatible technology.
Enterprise preference management relies on a single repository of preference data and intelligent distribution to all appropriate parties within the enterprise. It must take into account separation by time zones, languages, interaction categories, and more.
4. Preference data must be collected and stored in consideration of evolving compliance requirements at the state, federal, and international level.
In addition to building a technology infrastructure for preference management and knocking down the siloes that stand in its way, enterprises must have the ability to collect, manage, and archive privacy choices for state, federal, international and industry regulations. Modern enterprises compete in virtualized global marketplaces where overseas regulations – for example, GDPR – are every bit as relevant as domestic privacy and data security measures. And the only way to assure compliance is by centralized control and management.
5. The IT department can’t solve it overnight.
Here’s an all-too familiar scenario: senior leadership recognizes the need for better, more efficient customer engagement and understands that a sophisticated preference management system is a necessary prerequisite to achieving that goal. Preference management is listed as a priority and handed to IT for a feasibility and cost study. The study reveals the preceding four challenges and returns with a gloomy report that it is prohibitively expensive, requires an unreasonable timetable, or is deemed impossible given the enterprise’s current infrastructure. Discouraged by the result, senior leadership shelves the initiative, only to return to it during the next budget/planning cycle. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Taken together, these challenges can delay or even defeat an earnest attempt to listen to and learn from prospects and customers. The good news is that preference management technology has changed the landscape for enterprises and brought successful implementation within reach. The key is an active recognition of the challenges that come with large-scale preference management and a willingness to consider a holistic approach to addressing the problem. In other words, it’s great to be the big kid on the block, as long as you get the help you need and leverage the technology that is available to you.