Customer Experiences: The KISS principle
We talk a lot about the great things retailers can do to make the omni-channel customer experience optimal and seamless. It was no different at last week’s CRMC event (Customer Relationship Management Conference). There were great sessions and speakers detailing sophisticated ways to personalize customer relationships — optimizing every engagement, so customers will be happy and buy more.
Some tidbits picked up at the conference:
Steven Braun, ex VP of digital and mobile marketing at OfficeMax, complained that brand loyalty is at an all-time low. Consumers want consistency in omni-channel communications from retailers, but many retailers are still aligned in silos and not communicating learnings across internal channels. He said a common set of facts is needed about customer interactions, along with a cultural change that gets companies to view their competition as being external, not internal.
Mara Kelly, VP CRM & loyalty at Toys "R" Us (TRU), and Ann Pressimone, manager loyalty marketing at the chain, talked about how retailers need to capture data and engage in ways that are meaningful to customers. TRU launched its Rewards R Us program in October of 2008 and now has 18 million active members in the U.S. They have been learning along the way: the perils of communicating too frequently; the importance of dynamic messaging; how to be proactive instead of reactive; and the art of having complex communications vs. outbound messaging. One of their main messages for retailers is to make sure communications revolve around the customer and not around internal departments or issues.
Nicola Saraceno, VP CRM, and Gianluca Pogliani, senior director analytics & consumer insights, Luxottica, said tech should be an enabler that allows ongoing conversations with a real and consistent presence across multiple reach platforms. Plus, the data must be right the first time, in order to create real-time personalization. Retailers can create sets of personas, so they can build campaigns with a personalized experience, faster.
It is easy to come away from a conference like this energized, thinking about what all that data, technology and improved analytics can enable us to do. And then reality hits us in the form of this e-mail from Southwest Airlines:
With a great reputation like Southwest has, you’d think it would be on top of its customer communications, right? Not exactly:
- No personalization of the e-mail, even though the customer’s name is in the subject line.
- They want to know about a flight on "2014-06-05." Who talks to customers like that?
- There are several lines explaining how one can change one’s communications preferences to Spanish. Having flown with the same frequent flyer number for over 20 years, you would think they would know it’s unlikely I’ll want to do that anytime soon.
- At the bottom, there are two different blurbs about not bothering them with "issues" and saying replies will not receive a response.
In my mind, the promise of personalized experiences and the reality of dealing with marketers are often different. The possible isn’t often yet the reality. So, my advice for marketers is to work harder on the basics, really think about how automation, analytics and personalization can improve the customer experience, and stop trying to make personalization about efficiency and squeezing every last nickel out of your customers and your marketing efforts.
Is the focus on the latest and greatest personalization and analytics technologies diverting retailers attention away from getting the basics right? Which retailers have impressed you with the job they do communicating across various marketing channels?