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Time to get customer-obsessed

November 7, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Successful companies get close to their customers
Customer Engagement Management (CEM) is still a relatively new term in the field of marketing, let alone in IT. Where Gartner estimated CEM related IT spending in 2010 to a mere $770 million, IDC has this year forecasted revenue from CEM related IT spending to grow to over $3,5 billion by 2016.

Good news for IT companies, but even better news for companies looking to adopt and improve customer engagement tools to enhance their competitive advantage, as it seems that chances are very high that compared to your competitors  you’ll be a leader instead of a follower by doing so.

Studies in 2010 and 2011 by IBM and Forrester respectively show that in order to be successful, companies still need to get closer to their customers. At first sight the current trends in social networking seem to be an immense boon to achieve this, as it’s never been easier to engage your customers online. Or so it seems. Because trying to manage these interactions isn’t the most obvious task, let alone using these interactions to measurably improve your revenue. Most of the time it means that marketing departments just get stuck with even more data to try and make sense of, plus several more channels to manage such as Twitter, Facebook or Pintrest. The combination of the immobility which big data can sometimes cause (call it a sort of analysis-paralysis) and the further splintering of marketing and communications effort across multiple (often independently managed) communications channels actually make that communication with your customer is in danger of becoming increasingly more impersonal and thereby less meaningful and unproductive for the bottom line. As long as you keep marketing to generic 25-40 year old men instead of to me personally, there’s still a lot that can be optimized…

Listen to customers to optimize how you engage them
This inability to consistently identify your customers across the multitude of channels and the failure to compound the information gained from those channels, leads to customers not having the unified customer experience they are increasingly demanding and expecting. Good marketing money is still not being used as efficiently as possible, and that’s putting it mildly.

Customer Engagement Management is a discipline combining Customer Journey design with the necessary tools to improve and integrate the customer touchpoints along that journey. Needless to say, this isn’t limited to merely IT tools and solutions, but I guess we can agree that IT has become a major element in current marketing budgets. In a day and age where the consumerization of IT has led to customers being the most tech-using ever, with high expectations about service and a very low tolerance for (digital) failure, it’s simply a fact that many of your touchpoints are of an IT nature, be they your mobile apps, website, Facebook page, direct emailings, down to the QR-codes on your printed media activating a YouTube video …

The ability to harness these touchpoints, in order to better listen to and understand your customers, by building up an enterprise-wide knowledge store about  their individual behavior and preferences would surely deliver a powerful support to your business. Such an “institutional” memory would allow more meaningful engagement, which will again help getting even more insight into behavior and preferences, and so on.

Learn more about CEM
If your business is mainly acquiring and servicing customers via online channels, or you are considering moving into these online channels, then you very much need to gain insight into the key elements of CEM, such as Social CRM, Marketing Automation, Big Data and Online Channel  Optimization.

P.S. I originally wrote this blog post for the RealDolmen Corporate blog

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