A new approach to customer engagement

Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product alone. Indeed, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience (CX), meaning today’s brands must think carefully about the way they communicate with and engage consumers, and how it nurtures loyalty.

Nick Barbeary of Paragon Customer Communications discusses the enabling technologies and strategies enterprises can deploy to keep pace with longer-term transitions in consumer behaviour and capitalise on customer engagement opportunities.

customer engagement techFor modern businesses communication is often as varied as the consumers they deal with on a day-to-day basis. This means adapting to each one takes an in-depth understanding of their preferences and the ability to pivot effectively to react to every customer’s unique communication inclinations.

Driven by preference shifts and digital acceleration, consumers have made notable adjustments to the way they not only shop with, but also interact with brands. Over two-fifths (43%) of UK customers buy more online than they did before, accelerating the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping by roughly five years.

Undeniably, it is an accelerated transition carried across into the way today’s consumers choose to interact with brands, with nearly 18% of individuals stating they would now rather interact with brands online and via digital platforms.

Undeniably many of the trends are accelerations of past behaviours, but for today’s businesses the rapid pace of change is hard to ignore. And for those that are unable to adapt their strategies at an equivalent velocity risk being incapable of making up the ground they have lost on their competitors.

Of course, with transitions in consumer behaviour likely to take different forms and happen at varying speeds for individual industries, there is no single strategy that will deliver a perfect remedy for engaging consumers and delivering a superior CX.

Deep-rooted shifts in consumer behaviour, for some, means digital channels will likely remain the key enabler for maintaining connections with consumers. While others – particularly those in highly regulated markets such as insurance, finance, healthcare and telecoms – will rely more heavily on more traditional marketing channels such as Direct Mail and print.

Technology: The true enabler

It is, therefore, crucial for today’s businesses to gain an in-depth understanding of their consumers, their distinctive customer journeys, channel preferences and unique behaviours, and tailor communications strategies and customer engagement accordingly.

Often this necessitates integrated, multi-channel communication strategies in order to create a truly ‘frictionless’ CX, and aid organisations in their efforts to engage customers with speed, efficiency and relevancy across a multitude of channels.

Developing flexible frameworks that can cope with all the touchpoints on the customer journey and rapidly respond tof changes in a customer’s channel preferences and behaviours is imperative to providing a consistent and seamless experience.

Ensuring the foundation of your CX strategy is a single, centralised, customer communications management deliver model – a “one platform” approach – can provide the delivery infrastructure to support truly frictionless customer communications across a multitude of traditional and digital channels. What’s more is can also unify previously disjointed communications technologies across the breadth of an organisation.

Deploying a cohesive eco-system of this nature can afford CX professionals a controlled perspective of their organisation-wide communication strategy, particularly given that consumers engage across an average of almost six touchpoints, with nearly 50% regularly using more than four.

Such solutions have the capabilities to support heavily data-rich CX tactics by consolidating multiple data sources into a single system, integrated with legacy technologies and systems, to remove layers of complexity. This enables enterprises to push out the old and bring in the new in their bid to accelerate digital transformation.

In the case of financial organisations, which are often entrenched in complex “legacy” service models and IT infrastructures, adding an integration layer of this type delivers cohesive benefits without touching the legacy systems, which can be especially beneficial when considering the pace of transformation.

A consolidated approach

Of course, establishing the adequate delivery infrastructure to accommodate advanced technologies and new communication channels presents its own challenges. The most notable of these is the need to use different suppliers to deliver the various services businesses require for multi-channel communications.

Such an approach can create purchasing environments where the sourcing, tendering, evaluation and management of suppliers for different channels become complex and where time-consuming purchasing processes impede productivity and progress.

Transitioning from a difficult to manage multi-vendor approach to a more singular programme with one trusted partner can allow organisations to implement seamless multi-channel marketing strategies. Such an approach can not only break down operational silos between different departments, each with different IT systems, as well as internal marketing teams, but also generate improved efficiencies and cost savings.

By eradicating disparate purchasing habits resultant of using multiple suppliers, companies can implement new marketing tools and technologies quickly, efficiently and most importantly, cost effectively. Reaping the rewards of the new approach to customer engagement.

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