Brands have typically sought to earn loyalty from customers, but in a competitive and evolving environment, that paradigm is being turned on its head. Customers now expect brands to demonstrate loyalty to them and to truly earn their business across every touchpoint by making their experience as easy and as impactful as possible.
Customer focus is fundamental to modern customer relationship management (CRM). The generic, linear customer journey with no true USP is no longer enough; brands must now differentiate themselves with a new model, one which serves the right customers the right message, at the right time and on the right channel. That sounds great, but what does it look like in practice?
Basic CRM exists primarily to facilitate a straightforward customer journey, and while functional, it devotes little attention to a USP or a sense of delight. Most companies have now adopted some form of CRM, and it can be incredibly hard for brands to differentiate themselves in a world of similar systems. Common CRM features include personalized mail and welcome pages, review functionality, and outreach to customers that haven't shopped in a while or have abandoned their basket. These features do work to drive sales, but they rarely leave the customer with the impression that the business has gone above and beyond to serve them. Businesses that don't look beyond this level of approach will sooner or later be left behind.
This is where advanced CRM comes in. By using data more effectively, businesses can surprise and delight the customer before driving the next action, making it not only seamless but enjoyable to progress through the customer journey. For example, world-class CRM could incorporate gamification, geolocation, VIP communications, and personalized shopping experiences – in addition to, but separate from, personalized offers.
Urban Outfitters, for instance, goes beyond a traditional loyalty program by recognizing and rewarding total behavior with discounts and special offers. Total behavior could be, creating a wish list in the app, reading the Urban Outfitters blog, or enabling push notifications. Netflix and Uber are specialists in pre-empting the customer's needs and tailoring their content and offering to fit them. Netflix leverages personal data to power accurate behavioral recommendations on what customers would like to watch next. Uber keeps its finger on the pulse regarding transit strikes in cities across the world and proactively reaches out to its customers offering them an alternative transport solution.
Evolving your business's CRM
Developing a more advanced CRM is all about improving the customer experience. For instance, rather than clogging the customer's inbox with barely customized emails, reach them on the platforms where they're most comfortable. Adopt an omni-channel approach to do so. Speak to them on social, SMS, WhatsApp and – if it truly is the user's preference – email. This improvement in communication helps the brand to form a closer relationship with the customer.
Mass emails where the only customization is a personalized greeting at the top just don't get the customer's attention anymore. Rethink the traditional fixed cadence of communications and deliver messages in real-time, at moments triggered by the customer. Make messages personally relevant, beneficial, and ideally form a small part of a larger loyalty program.
Improving your CRM relies on using data to keep current customers engaged and attract new ones. Whereas many brands still rely on a single-source data capture system and struggle with multiple truths, world-class CRM demands an approach involving multi-source intake and a unified version of the truth. The customer experience must be constantly reviewed and improved based on the latest data. In terms of structure, advanced CRM means freeing customer communications and planning from their separate silos and unifying them into a single group focused on planning the ideal, unified customer experience.
CRM has been redefined
Condensed down, to deliver growth businesses must: drive brand preference through brilliant experiences and grow customer loyalty via meaningful interactions in the right channels.
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The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet.