Brands are now becoming far too reliant on deeper levels of segmentation, targeting, profiling, and big data analysis to try to reach their target customers, according to Nigel Baker of Echo Managed Services, who questions whether marketers are placing enough emphasis on delivering sufficient customer service levels. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

While all the latest Big Data and analytics tools are critical in helping marketers get their brand messages and values in front of the right customers (ideally with a highly personalised and context-based offer), many companies have yet to translate that outreach strategy into meaningful and positive customer engagement.

"Marketers must remember that, despite all their investment in technology that gets them closer to their target audience, customers also now have access to more alternatives than ever before," warned Baker.

Consequently, Echo has compiled a checklist to help marketers strike the right balance between communicating via the channels that data analysis predicts customers may adopt, and a more customer-centric approach that delivers an excellent quality of service regardless of the channel customers choose:

  1. Customer service comes full circle
    Responding to customers quickly and effectively can prove a real advantage, providing you're able to treat each and every interaction that way. As service metrics evolve toward a greater focus on Customer Effort, making things as easy as possible for customers can provide marketers with the competitive differentiation they need.
  2. Getting control of your Big Data
    Unprecedented levels of insight and analysis are powering a new generation of data-driven campaigns. However you need to question whether these activities are being driven by the data or by real customer requirements.
  3. Start with the customer first
    Marketers need to build customer journeys that recognise people and treat them as a single customer, whether they're engaging online, through self-service or via a contact centre. It's here that marketing and operations need to work hand in hand.
  4. Loyalty programmes aren't enough to secure long-term loyalty
    Many customers are worn down by aggressive loyalty initiatives, of course we all like a good deal but we don't always want to sign-up to demanding loyalty programmes just to take part.
  5. Keep it real
    Personalisation and contextualisation is great, but nothing beats a high quality human interaction. Understanding customer requirements and responding to them effectively and quickly - in a polite and positive manner - can provide a foundation for true long-term engagement.
  6. Make sure it's the customer's choice
    Whether it's social, email, chat or voice, you have to meet customers in the channel of their choice and according to the sensitivity and/or complexity of the conversation. While there may be significant short term savings to be gained from driving customers toward self-service, this doesn't always equate to long term value and can dilute customer loyalty.
  7. Understand where 'targeted' ends and 'intrusive' begins
    Today's sophisticated targeting is just tomorrow's background noise. There's a very fine line between nuanced targeting and going too far. Customers will increasingly tune out of campaigns that are over-intrusive.
  8. Reporting from an outside-in perspective
    Marketing-driven campaigns thrive on customer feedback, so it makes sense to listen to what your contact centre agents and service partners are telling you. Aligning your engagement metrics with successful service delivery ensures that you can act immediately on customer feedback.

"Designing and delivering campaigns in a world where nothing stays the same is always going to be challenging for marketers, however successfully achieving this requires more than just the latest social, mobile or Big Data technologies," concluded Baker. "Customers also want to be recognised, engage with people who they feel understand their concerns, and trust that their business is valued. That means always having the right people and processes in place to do whatever's necessary to resolve customer issues and respond to changing customer demands."