Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Connecting the Customer Experience

Customer Experience (CX) is all the buzz right now. I recently had the pleasure of being a Guest Speaker at the Customer Experience Executive Conference in Chicago. Other guest speakers and attendees included Customer Experience Execs from Victoria Secret, Nordstrom, MGM, Walgreens, CNN, Teleflora, Vonage, Macys and other high profile companies.

As we all discussed CX processes, challenges and opportunities, some very interesting similarities and patterns began to emerge. It became clear where in the customer lifecycle CX management first appears and who actually owns the Customer Experience within these companies.

Not surprising, IT owns CX for the vast majority of these companies. And in general CX focuses on post sale experiences, typically call center customer service/support processes.

What was definitely surprising was that, for almost every company in attendance, neither marketing nor sales has any visibility into or involvement with CX. CX remains siloed deep within the IT org. As such all pre-sale funnel stage activities and experiences are not usually considered as part of a CX ecosystem.

Yet all customers experience a number of marketing and sales interactions during their buyer journey, which collectively form the overall CX. I doubt I’d get much argument that the customer experience needs to include everything. From brand, to purchase, to product, to support. And don’t forget employee CX.

But IT does not own content and marketing does not own IVR systems, so finding an owner in either camp to manage this can be difficult. Even if you found one, they would likely focus on their ‘siloed vision of CX’. Not a holistic viewpoint. 

Yes there are CXO and CCO roles. Some CEOs are also great CXOs. (Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, to name a few). But this role requires a strategic as well as a technical leader. It’s one thing to talk and quite another to execute. Even if you have found the perfect CXO, it still requires connecting a single holistic view of the truth.

Is this even possible? According to eMarketer, less than 20% of businesses have even successfully obtained this single view and only 3% have actually integrated online and offline experiences.Yikes.

Most customers really do want you to know where they are in your company’s lifecycle, no matter what channel they choose to experience you on. They don’t want to have to repeat themselves with every interaction, and they don’t want to marry you on the first date either. All the while expecting their information to be locked up, completely secure. Unfortunately 25% of all companies have experienced some kind of security breach in the last 12 months, according to Forrester.

Until a single, fully secure customer interaction platform is fully realized and integrated, CX will likely continue to be managed like a railroad track, built in 2 unconnected sections, (pre-sale and post sale) instead of one completed line.

And while you may not have the ability to install processes to fill the unconnected sections just yet, as new integrations and identity security solutions evolve, it will happen eventually. Hey, it took over 39 years to complete the railroad track from the Atlantic all the way to the Pacific. 

So what can we do right now? In a nutshell, control what you can control and use the data you have. The good news is that even siloed, you can make great strides in improving the customer experience, both on the front end and on the back end of the lifecycle. They just may not be connected and talking to each other just yet.

Eloqua Certified Marketing Automation Best Practices Consultant, Astadia

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reminder Emails About Reminders

Tracking a lead’s activity is easy using Marketing Automation. And while tracking inactivity is just as easy, it can be even easier to annoy those that don’t respond by reminding them to respond. And then reminding them to respond to your reminder. And finally reminding them there is still time to respond to your last 3 reminders. Yikes, you see where this is going.

  • You send out an email with a special offer.
  • After 3 days you send the same email with a different Subject Line to those who didn’t respond.
  • 5 days later you send a “Still Time” to those who still haven’t responded.
  • 7 days later you send a “Last Chance” email to those who haven’t yet responded.

At best, you are training your by now catatonic leads to actually ignore the first few emails, knowing they will be receiving reminders as a deadline approaches. Once they are trained to ignore certain emails however, it won’t be long before the rest of your emails start to get ignored.

At worst, you are probably annoying leads that aren’t responding for a reason. Maybe it’s the wrong product or wrong person or wrong time.

Now if you work for a large enterprise, with multiple BUs, imagine what would happen if your leads get bombarded with multiple reminder emails from multiple campaign from multiple business units. How would you feel if you received 6 reminder emails, all related to different offers, from the same company, on the same day! It happened to me. I unsubscribed.

  • If you only send one email campaign every quarter, then reminder emails are completely appropriate. But if you’re like many clients and send campaigns weekly or even monthly, use Reminder Emails strategically.
  • Don’t include them as routine steps in your campaign template, otherwise you will definitely train your leads to ignore the originals over time. Use reminder emails where they really matter. The big stuff.
  • Make sure someone controls the overall volume and timing of emails from all sources within your company. Gating the flow of emails can get complicated with hierarchy rules, but at its simplest, It’s easy to create a little program that checks to see whether someone has received any marketing email within the last X days and if so, the campaign only sends the current email when the answer is no. This mandates a small break between the consistent onslaught (er, I mean flow) of emails.
  • Finally, get proactive about motivating people to update their preferences. This should cut down on having to rely on reminders in the first place. It’s a hard sell to get someone to actually go to the trouble of updating their preferences, but if you make it worth their while, everyone wins. Knowing which content a lead has chosen as relevant is worth double its weight in gold, so make sure the reward for divulging this vital info is of equal value. A new car perhaps? jk.

BTW: Sending an email reminding people to respond to reminder emails requesting they update their preferences usually doesn’t work :)

Steve Kellogg
Eloqua Certified Marketing Automation Best Practices Consultant, Astadia

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Content Positioning: Preventative or Pain Relief?

Did you know the average American spends almost twice as much on pain remedies than on vitamins each year? It's even higher when you factor in prescription pain remedies.

Now remember, I said the "average American". I know you health nuts are cringing right now.

But it makes sense. I know I am more focused on alleviating any current pain than on preventing future pain. And I would consider myself health-conscious.

For example, I am far more likely to reach for an Advil if I have a headache, than to reach for a vitamin if I do not have a headache.

So if this is true for people on a personal level, might they carry this preference with them when making business purchases?

Which is the truer statement at your company?

"Of course we don't look busy. We put the right systems and processes in place the first time". (Preventative)

"Of course we're busy. We have to manage all the incompatible systems that keep breaking". (Pain Relief).

In our experience as consultants, we hear the 2nd statement far more often that the first.

So if your conversions are getting stagnant, try positioning your content more on how your product or service alleviates existing pain and less on how your product or service prevents future pain. See if you don't get a higher conversion. As an added bonus when focusing on alleviating pain, you also get the added advantage of urgency that you don't get otherwise.

BTW: The average American purchases only 1 bottle of vitamins a year. Just sayin...

Eloqua Certified Marketing Automation Best Practices Consultant, Astadia

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Sources: Consumer Health Products Association, http://weighttraining.com, http://reportllnker.com