Journey to The HearT: A Living, Breathing CCM Solution

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle

Your organization is more than just you and your collaborators. It’s bigger than your employees, and definitely more intricate than any technology you service – it’s even more than an organization. In fact, with inner workings so complex and complementary, your business deserves another word. It’s grown over many ups and downs, perspectives have shifted, things have changed (they always do). In time, your system has transcended its perfunctory nature and become something entirely new: a life.

But what brought it to life? What makes a business a business? What keeps it running?

These are the great mysteries of –

JUST KIDDING. The answer is the business…or your customers, rather.

So, where life is concerned, we find our purpose in effective Customer Communications Management solutions.

Rather than merely a piece of technology, good Customer Communications Management is better understood as a business strategy that employs the maximum potential of all its parts. Like any system, it is greater than the sum of its most negligible strengths and weaknesses; but those pieces, directly or indirectly, always function with a singular goal in mind: Customer Lifetime Value.

This series will consider five components (or proximate goals, all accounted for by the EOS-CCM solution) which underlie that one major objective. The acquisition and retention of customers ultimately lends a business its virtue (it’s the heartbeat, it makes it what it is!); and since your business aims to function as an entity (not as some inert mechanism), it is vital that you seek the most accurate, relevant, and meaningful communications at every turn.

To begin:

Part 1: Leveraging the Value of Customer Data

Aggregate with Maximal Resources
Amplify Your Song

Every relationship starts with some kind of vetting or other. To even pique the interest of a customer, you must first know something about them. Proper targeting is essential here – going in blind, distributing canned material wholly irrelevant to customer preferences, only puts knots in the life cycle.

Of course, the sheer volume of your base can substantially impact the attention given to each, individual customer. It might seem unavoidable to a point, which is where some decision makers proclaim, “You can’t win ‘em all.”

In the interest of stellar customer service, we maintain the imperative: Win them all.

Remember, we’re trying to reach hearts, to transform casual observers into lifetime advocates. This is not some sideshow – this is Springsteen at the Roxy. You are the Beatles at Shea Stadium, in 1966 – no, RIGHT NOW! Right now, you are falling in love.

Even if there are “too many”. Even if you have “not enough”. As a key decision maker, whether or not you believe in miracles, you believe in results. The life of your company is just that – a result of many small, courageous steps into knowns and unknowns (you might say more unknowns than knowns).

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Luckily, more can be known. But how?

Well, what are Beatles without instruments? What’s Elton John without a cool pair of glasses? You need the right tools. You need the right sound – what are any of these guys without amplifiers?

How will you reach the fans all the way in the back, on picnic blankets? Luckily, you can reach them – and you can learn about them. 

There are multiple outlets for collecting and organizing consumer information. A dynamic CCM platform can optimize this experience, aggregating data by industry-standard methods with SQL, XML, and Web Services. These tools are the future of your company. If you want to fill your data fields, you should recognize these as mines of potential.

Let this be your amp.

Differentiate Customers Efficiently
Stage Presence

You’re playing out. They’re going wild, and it’s great – you’ve got a boat-load of data – no, twelve boatloads. How can your data points be justly differentiated?

No chance you’re going to pick any one voice out of the crowd, right? No chance of making anyone feel special?

Say what you want about Justin Bieber, but it’s fair to assume he’s developed something beyond just a rapport with his consumers. The fans are of religious proportions. And they might be still, even if Bieber hadn’t gone the extra mile to serenade individual fans on stage (I believe the song was One Less Lonely Girl, but I’ve revealed too much about myself already).

You’re playing out. They’re going wild, and it’s great – you’ve got a boat-load of data – no, twelve boatloads. How can your data points be justly differentiated?

No chance you’re going to pick any one voice out of the crowd, right? No chance of making anyone feel special?

Say what you want about Justin Bieber, but it’s fair to assume he’s developed something beyond just a rapport with his consumers. The fans are of religious proportions. And they might be still, even if Bieber hadn’t gone the extra mile to serenade individual fans on stage (I believe the song was One Less Lonely Girl, but I’ve revealed too much about myself already).

This is how you capture a heart. Good stage performers know what city they are in. They engage the crowd with banter like, “Oh, hi! What’s your name? Where are you from?” Whereas in the case of a business, you might also ask about preferred communication channels (Justin Bieber fans might want to talk on the phone for hours at a time).

But preferences are so volatile! And they assume different shapes between groups and individuals! Surely no human can keep up! How will I survive?

Again, this is not a sideshow. You are not an uninspired cover band at a dive bar. Your customer base depends on you to keep up. THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

We said you could win them all, not that you could do it on your own. Good news: You have a band, and some mighty sophisticated instruments, at that.

The right strategy, in this day and age, can process your seemingly overwhelming bulk of data faster and more efficiently than ever before. You can stay informed by employing systems that actually manage preferences in real-time. Do not wait for a customer to point out an error in your information.

Before, you might have thought you were stuck fielding new information manually, or by some impersonal means. Imagine inviting thousands of fans onstage at once, and making each one feel like you are singing exclusively to them.

Most tasks can be automated now, and the systems you take on can maintain correspondence with respect to changes in any field of interest. Keep your data classes up to date, ensure that all of your information, every detail with respect to language, delivery channel, and consent-based campaigns, is stored properly.

A reliable Customer Communications Management Solution will allow you to customize preference fields, which can be integrated with external data sources for smooth translation between platforms. Supplementary profiles could even be available, providing relevant fields for external CRM applications (e.g. SalesForce), to ensure the data remains specific.

Ultimately, these are checkpoints along the path to seamlessly go from knowing what to understanding who.

Initiate Correspondence
Encore

In the name of progress, once you’ve gathered your data and specified your fields, you have to trust your analytics. You and your fans are not yet prancing into the sunset. You need to push the button, or nothing happens. You must initiate the correspondence, and know that it’s right; because you’ve invested in the right tools, and everything was targeted appropriately.

Now, you are the initiator – not the other way around – aiming to know customers better than they think, aware of what they need before even they are.  

These days, the only way to know this is happening is through reliable communications management. Like we mentioned before, people are specific about how they want to be communicated with, so reaching out can be a highly sensitive production. The pressures are best alleviated with the right technologies in place, because the best technology will provide the greatest assurance of leveraging your data.

When you’re confident in your data, there is less trouble setting the wheel in motion. You can now trigger a fine-tuned correspondence where, all of the sudden, you are learning more about your customers, and your customers are learning about you. A beautiful, relational feedback loop!

This relationship is suddenly a life in itself, producing new data of its own, further and further into the cycle; everyone’s awaiting album #2. Altogether, proper outbound communication facilitates clearer inbound.

Soon your communications with customers will have extended beyond merely a sporadic email correspondence. You will have engaged someone, and it will have been because you exhausted every measure your company was capable of, without exhausting yourself.

Conclusion: A Machine with a Personality

Altogether, customer retention is a circulatory process between research and reaching out. The raw sustenance of a business within its customer life cycle is, purely and simply, the data. This is why it is so important to make full use of ERP databases, CRM systems, database queries, and any other wellsprings of information available in your arsenal. These resources are portals of discovery, of great value to your analytics moving forward.

Engagement must be viewed as a holistic process. You did not engage your base through one positive employee-customer interaction. A successfully engaged customer will have had a positive connection with the whole organization – this is a familial event, from beginning to end.

The right software will get you there – sometimes with hierarchical account relationships (with support for corporate account administrators and subordinate subscriber accounts) so everyone is onboard with the correspondence, and the organization will actually have become a living entity with a face and a voice. 

When we go after the customer’s heart we are looking to break barriers, to enhance perceptions of certain features in each other that might have initially seemed blurry. This is a distinct portrait of what it means to engage someone – to see them more clearly. 

Our goal is to remain dynamic. Stay at the peak of your technological awareness, but do not forget to give it a human upgrade. The fusion of these elements is what fuels the customer life cycle. See your business as a machine with a personality, every part in full service to the customer.

 Stay tuned for CCM for Strategic Thinkers Part 2: Empowered Customer Service