12 Apr 2017
Year of the Customer

Five Ways to Make 2017 the Year of the Customer

Just when you thought articles predicting technology trends in 2017 were on the wane, we’ve got one more for you.

This article is one we hope you can actually use to plan your customer strategy — especially if your company recognizes customer identity as an indispensable tool to deliver a unified, secure and engaging customer experience. Following are five trends predicted to pop this year, and how organizations should respond.

1. Customer identity management (CIM) will become central to the marketing technology stack.

Don’t look now, but your customer profiles may be fragmented. When you store and manage individual sets of customer data in customer relationship management (CRM) software, a content management system (CMS), a data management platform (DMP) or other solutions that are siloed, your customers’ identities end up scattered throughout your marketing stack in small chunks, preventing you from building consistent user profiles. Because of this, you are unable to engage customers across channels (online and off) in a consistent and relevant manner, or ensure that they give consent for the data collected and retain control of its use. The result is a broken experience for customers and some well-deserved mistrust.

Customer-obsessed organizations will move away from “DIY” systems to manage customer data, and they will place customer identity at the center of their system with a CIM hub. By doing this, organizations will have more accurate and complete user profiles that can be built and managed over time. Also, connecting marketing systems to a centralized platform enables marketers to gain deeper customer insights and deliver personalized content. Meanwhile, your customers experience transparency, consistency, and a sense of control over their profiles and preferences.

2. Customer identity will be built progressively.

A trending strategy for winning and keeping more customers can be summed up simply: When first engaging with consumers, less is more.

To be competitive in the digital world, you must establish direct relationships with your customers, which traditionally has meant coaxing consumers into filling out forms for online accounts or subscriptions. But people don’t like friction in their mobile and online experiences. And, they are increasingly wary of divulging personal information.

Businesses will incentivize users to sign up for accounts with simple value propositions and the smallest ask. A single piece of information is all that’s needed to get the ball rolling — an email address, mobile number or permission to use someone’s existing social media credentials.

With contact established, you can then move the conversation forward by using behavioral insights about individuals to offer something of value to encourage their return. When they do, there’s a new opportunity for you to exchange value for information. A free trial for a social referral, points for joining a loyalty program — the possibilities are endless. This gradual collection of permission-based information is called “progressive profiling.” Just remember that, as the relationship grows, customers must feel confident that their information is secure and won’t be abused.

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