What We Learned From Managing Millions of Consumer Interactions

By Paula Tompkins on December 19, 2016
Channelnet article image customer interaction

Mobile devices are now the center of our communication universe, controlling where we go, how we get there, and how we manage our finances, home security, entertainment and relationships. It is driving the escalation our transformation to a digital world.

In 2016 through servicing our clients, which are Fortune 500 companies and their 7,742 sales and service channel partners, we gained deep insights into the future of digital marketing. Halfway through 2016, we managed more than:
• 6.5 million personal customer microsites
• 35 million personal user interactions

Based on our data and experience, we see four marketing trends leading the way

 

1) Marketers will become more accountable for driving actual sales, not just branding and communications.
Sales organizations are facing empowered and demanding customers, who expect more than “product push communications.” The trifecta of mobile, social and digital media is creating better-informed buyers with high expectations.

Marketing and sales technology is helping shorten sales cycles, produce higher quality leads and drive more revenue. In 2017, more organizations will undertake the difficult task of blending marketing and sales into what some experts are calling ‘smarketing.’

The sales organization needs the same information as their customers at their fingertips — organized, targeted and relevant data. This task has fallen to marketing, which may or may not have the skills or budget to create compelling content that defines the overall customer experience. It is our belief that marketing will take a more active role to meet the customers’ and sales staff’s needs.

2) Screens will continue to compress the marketing message
In the U.S., more than 79% of mobile phones are now smartphones, and globally more than 1.4 billion smartphones were sold in 2015. While some manufacturers are making larger phones to increase the screen size, we predict screens will shrink.

In addition to smartphones, the adoption of wearables (IoT such as smart watches, fitness bands, google glasses, smart devices, smart clothing) is beginning to transform our lives. With a quick glance, wearables give consumers the right information in the right moment. Currently, 1 in 4 U.S. consumers use wearable technology. A study by McKinsey found that the uses of IoT in retail could have an economic impact of $410 billion to $1.2 trillion by 2025.

Through smartphones and wearables, instant gratification is reaching new heights. GPS, geo-location, beacons, check-in apps and other technologies allow brands to give consumers control over what they want exactly when they need it.

Forrester reports that tablet use is dropping in favor of the small screen. We see these same trends across our clients’ digital solutions. Screens are shrinking. This means marketers will need to compress their calls to action into an even smaller screen. We predict Twitter’s 140-character limit will seem generous.

3) Convenience marketing will usurp content marketing
Overall marketing’s goal is to speed up the sales cycle, the time between when a customer decides to make a purchase (declares intention) and the actual purchase. Amazon’s ‘Frequently Bought Together’ and ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’ recommendations are examples of selling models based on predicting what someone wants before they know it. Companies like StitchFix and Blue Apron are built on the presumption that they know what the customer wants and they automatically send it every month. It is about convenience.

Content marketing, which speaks to quality, has become the price of entry. Convenience is the differentiator. Our analysis of 250,000 auto lease-end intentions and 270,000 credit applications reveals that timing is the biggest factor. When a marketer gets it right (timing + relevance), customer acquisition and repurchase significantly increases.

4) CEO’s will jump on the customer experience band wagon
Whatever you are selling, from cars to financial services, sneakers, furniture and more, customers are more sophisticated and demanding. Businesses need to deliver a relevant and convenient buying and servicing experience to their customers. According to an in-depth survey commissioned by Chief Executive Magazine, 39 percent of CEOs see customer experience as the most effective method for creating a competitive advantage.

Successful CEOs must engage in the process by establishing a small empowered team, aggressive timelines and an agile process to drive the changes needed to put the customer in the spotlight. Otherwise, political agendas, inherent in all organizations, will get in the way of making real and meaningful progress. The only person that has the power to cut through the politics is the CEO, the ultimate mediator.

Early adopters of customer experience management know the term is more than a buzzword. They know how you serve the customer is as important as what you provide the customer. The data clearly reveals customer experience pays in repeat customers, reduced costs and increased revenue — an outcome that will motivate any CEO.

Article author, Paula Tompkins, CEO and founder of ChannelNet, is a strategic visionary and tech inventor with a deep understanding of marketing and technology. She is an authority on leveraging digital touch points to drive store traffic and she has counseled hundreds of Fortune 500 companies. Her clients include five of the top ten global automotive finance companies.


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