Customer Life – 1
Unopened messages. Undifferentiated experiences. Missed moments. Stalking ads. Sucked data. Interrupting calls. Such is the life of a modern day customer.
Our inboxes are full of messages that we ignored and yet keep receiving – messages that are identical to almost everyone else, even though the brand can track every click (and non-click). Even after we have been loyal with our shopping, the brand barely knows us – we get the same treatment as a first-time or one-time buyer. Brands miss so many moments where they can delight and surprise us – a little surprise in a large order, faster delivery, human assistance instead of a frustratingly dumb chatbot, less wait time when we call their toll-free number. Brands could perhaps learn that showing the same ad for the fifteenth time will not make us more likely to buy. Data – our precious identity, the oil of the 21st century – is taken away without as much as an acknowledgment; in fact, if they had asked nicely, we would perhaps have told them so much more. And those pesky calls keep coming, DnD be damned. Being a customer means being at the receiving end.
Brands have the power within them to change their engagement with us. And yet few do. Why? One answer can be laziness – they just don’t care. Each of us is a statistic, one among millions. Who cares whether we stay or leave? There is a pipeline waiting to be acquired. A second answer can be they lack the tools to behave better with us. But we know this is not true – communications and martech platforms have advanced sufficiently. A third answer is that the various internal departments do not speak or share data with each other. So customer support doesn’t know that I am a valuable customer, or I haven’t opened the app for the past 30 days and am likely to churn. Whatever the reasons, it is inexcusable for a modern day brand to not provide wow experiences for their customers – every one of them. Because a few of them are doing it. Why cannot others copy from the best?
Imagine a different world. Messages that come to us carry incentives to get us to pay attention. Brands where we are Best customers treat us like royalty – the way an airline’s First and Business class crew does. Brands plan our journeys and surprise us with amazing recommendations – of books and movies we are delighted to watch, of gadgets and appliances we didn’t know existed but are needed, of clothes that we can “try now and pay later” because they know we have never reneged on a commitment. Ads shown to us can perhaps become smarter – just because there is investor money to burn does not necessarily mean a brand needs to always outbid others. A “Preferences” page can ask us questions directly rather than intuit from the semi-random exploratory clicks we do. A search box that works and the products we browse can also provide rich insights on what we are looking to buy next. And those calls – maybe a better understanding of which channel we like to interact on can drive a better response; every push message can now be made interactive and conversational.
The ideas and tech solutions are all there for brands to make our experiences better. Atomic rewards. Velvet Rope Marketing. CLV. BCG. RFM. Automation. Journey orchestration. CDP. Omnichannel personalisation. Unified customer view. Next Best Action. Nudges. Conversational AI. Permission marketing. Predictive segments. Preferred channel. QR codes. Send time optimisation. Frequency capping. Interactive messages. Identity resolution.
A new world of brand-customer engagement is possible. If only the individuals making decisions at brands saw themselves as customers at the receiving end. If only the marketing department felt the pain of poor engagement, churn and wasted money. If only the CEO or CMO started thinking like Chief Profitability Officers. If only the idea of exponential forever profitable growth starts taking root. Only when retention and growth become more important than acquisition and reacquisition. Only then will true “digital” transformation happen. Only then will our lives as customers will transition from “delete” to “delight”.