By Bob Fetter, SVP of Pluris Marketing, a company with expertise in cross-channel offer optimization, loyalty, database marketing and advanced analytics
It’s not easy being a consumer-facing brand these days. After years building a company based on one consumer pathway, the mobile, app, email, social, geo-located, connected TV, real-time bargain hungry consumer is now touching brands in more ways and with more diverse behavior patterns than any company can keep up with. That’s 100 years of organizational design shot to hell.
Consumers engage brands in dynamic and changeable ways that vary from brand to brand, and by product categories within brands. Consider my 14 year-old daughter, who orders food from an app, shoes from Zappos, looks for deals via email, gets suggestions and makes recommendations on purchases from social, yet insists on only buying clothes in store. Every brand that she interacts with must deal with a different pattern of behavior from her; a different journey for each brand experience.
Brands were built from the ground up with departments focused on specific aspects of manufacturing, selling, marketing, merchandising and service. These new consumer journeys require interaction with multiple components of said organization and no doubt, most organizations still don’t even have the most basic cross discipline integrations set up. Remember when you couldn’t buy something online and return it in store? Wait. Still? Really?
As companies try and implement engagement and loyalty strategies, there is a single, simple step that should be a precursor to every effort. Think “Mind the Gaps.” A gap is:
1) Sending out a “We Miss You” email three days after an actual transaction occurs.
2) Following up a 45 minute in depth customer service call to resolve an issue with a generic email reminding the consumer that “Hey you can go online and solve most issues by yourself.”
3) Sending a promotional email on a product just purchased, for which no sane person would want two.
4) Make a post or send an email advertising a deal where a click through takes the consumer to the main brand page, not the deal itself.
5) Post on Twitter saying “Hey mention Facebook in our store and receive 20% off today only!”
6) Offering new customers a better price than its existing, loyal customers (OK, I won’t go there).
Any of these or several others that we have experienced leaves the consumer scratching their head, and obviously feeling less than loved by the company making these head scratchers. Let’s put this in perspective. Any company has a set of 5-10 touch points where consumer can interact with a company. Likely points include in-store, email, social, other advertising channels, direct mail, etc. In addition, every touch point has intent. Either the intent is company-driven (I really want this person to open this email and buy something), or the intent is consumer driven (I really want information about this product or service). A simple yet effective process for filling in the gaps would be to:
a) Map the touch points.
b) Map the intent for each touch point.
c) Determine volumetrics at each touch point (quantity, frequency, etc).
d) Determine the severity of not meeting consumer or company intent at each touch point (lost customer being on the high end).
e) Do a volume/severity analysis and figure out what you have to fix quickly.
In this manner, organizations can develop a quick understanding of high priority projects that are causing the greatest dissatisfaction/lost sales today. And, some things are easier to fix than others. Figuring out how to move data more quickly is one of the simplest. Figuring out how to hire and train young, seasonal employees is decidedly more difficult.
Fix quickly what you can, and move towards fixing longer terms things as you can. Perhaps by following this, we can all remove 80% of the gaps from key consumer interactions, making the journey more enjoyable for both the consumer and the brand.