Customer retention: What They Want
How CCM (Customer Communications Management) technology is helping companies achieve customer engagement by meeting needs and preferences in a new, personal way.
One of the biggest challenges faced by companies today is keeping up with customer preferences. Acquiring and retaining customers requires you to know who they are and what they want. This is partly a general principle of customer service, and partly a consequence of the time in which we live. Technology has raised the bar, and customers are looking for champions.
Can we be everything to everyone? It’s what they seem to want, probably because it’s what current technologies suggest. How is it achieved?
Maybe it’s a matter of combining your human intuition with modern tools. To even begin targeting consumers, you should know the groups you’re serving and how they’re differentiated; only then can you proceed to making full use of the technologies that reach them. You have different generations on the rise, loosely determining overall delivery channel preferences, preferences for document types; and you have changes in trends, even outlying changes to individual wants and needs.
Because your targets only get more complex with time, it might seem unfair to categorize them at all. So, instead, we’ll just give a slightly more detailed picture of how they vary.
Serving Different Generations, Not Just key demographics
We often talk about how different generations consume information differently. Of course, these preferences are not set in stone – it’s not a particular preference per a certain age, more of an unfixed continuum spanning from oldest to youngest.
You can statistically nail down what your biggest demographic wants, but as with anything that involves data, it’s just a close estimate. Our society has been confident with pigeonholing millennial preference of simple, fragmented communication and limited human interaction. You could easily pigeonhole elder generations for the exact opposite.
The truth is that, statistically speaking, younger ones are more likely to gravitate toward digital communication than older ones; they are more likely to consume information faster, in smaller bits. Such is the general trajectory of future customer preferences – but it still is only the big picture, a future normal. Normal is a shape on a graph. We’re talking about people.
Not all customers are normal. In fact, when we think about the other side of the coin – data based on individual preferences – none of them are. Everyone seems to have their own distinct combination of wants when it comes to delivery channel, document types, levels of autonomy and the quality of content in their messages.
For this reason, it is important to find ways of monitoring individual preferences and not to favor one demographic over another so quickly. Every generation, currently, has progressive spending power. Millennials, as expected, are set to have the most of any generation in history by middle-age. But the spending power baby-boomers is still projected to rise into old age: by 2020, those aged 60 and above will have a spending propensity of $15 trillion.
So it’s not a matter of leveraging technology to find out who’s important, but finding technology that accounts for the fact that everyone is unique. Because in an increasingly personal world, we want to collect data on personal preferences. If the tools for this are available, isn’t it worth exploring?
Being Versatile With Delivery Channels, Keeping All Lines Open
Even if customers prefer a variety of mediums (email, fax, SMS) we have more than enough reason to believe that the future is digital, and that businesses need a digital foundation to support omni-channel delivery of communications in order to be competitive. This is actually where your relationship to the individual customer starts. The technology feeds into your wealth of information so that you can know who wants what, and when.
Going digital is what helps you become versatile. You’re not abandoning print because of a massive change in customer taste. People like options. If you want customer engagement, you’ll have to keep all of your lines open. Print, digital – fax, email, SMS – Omni-channel communication is becoming standard phraseology in business, because the issue meeting businesses is not the rise of any single generation – it’s the diversity in generations translating to a colorful range of preferences.
Some people, old and young, prefer to hold a paper document in their hand, and then to ship a response in the same way (sad, you don’t employ carrier pigeons to appease their nostalgia). Others like a purely snappy, instantaneous customer experience with nothing to hold at all (unfortunate, you’re not a telepath).
The name of the game is not fast and easy, but versatile. We mentioned earlier the goal of being everything to everyone. You can do this, effectively, with the right technology.
Versatility Squared, Accounting For Document Type Preferences
Whether it’s SMS, tablet, email, fax, or phone, content matters. When delivering any kind of messaging to anyone, we should ask the question, “Is it something the customer cares about?”
Our preferences are especially varied when it comes to the length and quality of content we consume. Similar to channel preferences, you could pigeonhole millennials for favoring shorter, more concise reading – if any at all – and baby boomers for being more tolerant of longer, more detailed text.
There are more possibilities to consider in document production than we might think initially. Not only is density of content important, but have you ever considered the different types of content present on one sheet of paper? Yes, there is text, but there are also images. You have logos, banners, borders, charts, and graphs. Maybe you’ll have special targeted advertisements.
Latest technologies allow us to measure the effectiveness of all these digital elements. Ecrion actually offers a mode communication called the “digital experience document” which offers a completely interactive experience for customers, not only with drill-down and slice-and-dice graphics but also a circular exchange of information. The different elements collect data pertaining to how customers interact with them, and this information feeds back into your database to inform future messaging.
Modern Customer Communication Fundamentals
Customer wants and needs ultimately come down to two things: 1) autonomy, the freedom to choose, and 2) diversity in those choices. This is the newest, clearest keystone of customer service today, which is why we promote the delivery of multiple communication options, from medium to content, and even to the type of documents you deliver.
Does the customer want their statements by one medium, and their bills by another? Do they prefer wordy invoices and picture-heavy fact sheets, or the other way around? The possibilities are endless. That’s how the customer likes to see it.
With today’s customer communications management platforms, you can certainly provide endless possibilities for your customer and yourself. It’s a Customer Life Cycle that keeps on spinning.