Tag Archives: customer

5 Customer Success Secrets to Increase Renewal Rates

20180116 bnr renew contract button 351x200 5 Customer Success Secrets to Increase Renewal Rates

As you onboard customers, work with them to lock down specific goals they want to achieve with your product and outline a path to achieve these objectives. Doing so helps provide a blueprint for identifying potential problems in the future and ensures alignment on strategic goals.

2) Behavior-Based Customer Success Engagements

Most customer relationships have processes such as quarterly and midyear business reviews that provide a regular opportunity to check in on how much and how well the customer is using your product. That’s easy.

More challenging is picking up on behavioral triggers that could indicate a need for increased handholding even though the customer hasn’t asked for it. To do that, you must deeply understand what customers are doing with your technology, and you need to be able to predict reasons for concern.

Make sure you’re keeping track of the customer’s behavior over time: not just a month or two, but six months and beyond. Compare each customer’s behavior and actions with cohorts of similar customers, and look for patterns of success and failure. Identifying those trends is important to predictive and proactive customer engagement. If you see leading indicators of failure, proactively reach out.

3) People Power

Business relationships are about people. Again, that seems obvious, but consider this scenario: You sell your product into a company, and everything seems to be going well; then, after months of success, you see a decrease in usage and overall success behaviors, leading to a notice from your customer that they are looking elsewhere; after reaching out, you learn that your primary champion and customer system administrator took another job some time ago.

To mitigate such risk, you need to monitor user and usage behaviors and identify changes, especially those related to power users. Identifying changes will allow you to proactively approach other users to build relationships, answer any questions, merchandise your product’s success to date, and discuss future road maps. Know your customer and your champions!

4) Visibility

It’s crucial to have a dashboard view into the health of your customer base, both by individuals and by segments. You need to have your finger on the pulse, in real time, and ensure you are managing capacity appropriately to engage the right resources at the right time. Customer success platforms such as Totango and Gainsight can help in this area.

5) Repeatable Results

Now, everyone talks about engaging the right resources at the right time to drive the right results. However, having the behavioral triggers defined and knowing whom to engage does you little good if you lack an effective blueprint for success for a given situation.

Build a database of repeatable success plays or playbooks as part of your success resource; you can then harness those to ensure consistent engagements, actions, and results. So, you should know not just the customer but your own people and the tools they need to consistently drive the success of your customers!

Bonus Tip: Real-Time Answers

In today’s hyper-paced world, customers don’t want to waste time calling, emailing, or even live-chatting with customer service agents. Therefore, provide a way for customers to access your knowledge base from within your product’s interface so they can find answers with minimal effort.

Encourage customer communities (online boards/forums, local user groups, etc.) that help customers build relationships with each other and foster a sense of, well, community… around your brand.

By drawing a detailed picture of the customer’s success journey and having an aggressive, thorough game plan for proactive engagement, SaaS companies can increase the value their customers experience, improving renewal rates and ultimately leading to more predictable growth.

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Transform customer engagement with location intelligence (VB Live)

 Transform customer engagement with location intelligence (VB Live)

Location intelligence can help brands deliver dynamic user experiences, better understand their customers and prospects, and boost consumer engagement and delight. Join this VB Live event to earn how to effectively incorporate location intelligence into your digital strategies and transform your customer relationships.

Register here for free. 

Location intelligence has evolved. It’s not just longitude and latitude anymore — it’s context, says David Bairstow, VP of product at Skyhook. It’s the intersections of billions and billions of mobile devices processed against known locations — from airports, sports stadiums, and college campuses to coffee shops and Burger King — and it means a revolution at the intersection between customer intelligence and mobile advertising targeting.

Brands know more about their consumers than anybody else. They know when consumers are on their properties, whether it’s at their physical location or in their online store — but that represents just a fraction of that person’s day.

“Location data helps brands understand their customers when they’re not spending time with them,” Bairstow says. “If Burger King is the brand, they know a particular customer likes Whoppers or Quarter Pounders with cheese, but does that customer also spend a lot of time at Chik-fil-A?”

The technology has become sophisticated enough to deliver the kind of precision required to detect that not only is a customer nearby, but that they’ve actually pulled into a gas station, and they’ve stopped — a perfect scenario in which to deliver a targeted, engaging message. And these kind of marketing and advertising scenarios have always been the promise of location intelligence. But that sophistication also means that marketers can leverage this new facet of customer data by building it into other channels as well.

“Just because it’s coming from mobile location data, doesn’t mean that the only kind of delivery channel is a realtime location-based trigger for a message,” he explains. “If you can learn a lot more about your customers by understanding who they are, what their preferences are, where they go, where they spend their time, then you can build it into a broader, smarter marketing campaign.”

He offers Skyhook’s recent study for a high-end clothing brand, identifying mobile devices as a proxy for people who had visited their stores and analyzing the captive audience data, exploring the common behaviors and traits among all those whoh have visited this store.

When they compared the behaviors of the group that visited the target stores to the broader panel of 50 million devices, they found that these shoppers over-indexed dramatically, Bairstow says. They were like 10 times more likely to visit high-end yoga studios, high-end gyms, and the top at-leisure brands.

“It was a real epiphany for the store,” he says. “With those insights they are now experimenting with working with some of the brands their consumers associate with, as well as building real-time messaging based on when a customer is having another experience which has an association with their own brand.”

Cutting the creep factor

But how do you manage the risk of driving consumers away — or having them refuse to give up their data, and consent? You go back to the basics: delivering value, which needs to start at the beginning of customer engagement with a request for permission to use their location data.

Permission rates vary dramatically depending on the type of app and the trust that people have in a given brand. If the SPG Starwood Rewards app asked to use a customer’s location, that customer understands intuitively how that data might be used when they’re traveling. If it’s a social app or similar, where they can’t immediately see why you need their location, they’re going to say no more often than yes, Bairstow explains. They need to see an explicit value exchange — for instance, ‘I want your location so I can give you offers when you’re near one of my stores’ which provides an explicit benefit to the customer.

“I think there’s a spectrum in terms of what brands should, or need, to give to customers to make them feel comfortable with their use of location data, because ultimately it’s a value exchange,” he says. “It’s, ‘I’m going to give you a better experience because of it,’ or the big one, ‘I’m going to give you money,’ if it’s coupons and promotions.”

To learn more about the customer intelligence breakthroughs that companies like Deloitte and Skyhook are developing, and how to garner location-based insights that supercharge your CRM system and help you build a more powerful marketing plan, don’t miss this VB Live event!

Don’t miss out!

Register here for free.

During this webinar you’ll learn how to:

  • Boost engagement with real-time, location-based consumer engagement and experiences
  • Gain insight into the behavioral patterns of customers and prospects
  • Understand the future of location data for your business


  • David Bairstow, VP Product, Skyhook
  • Prince Nasr Harfouche, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Stewart Rogers, Analyst at Large, VentureBeat (Moderator)

Sponsored by Skyhook

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Namogoo CEO Chemi Katz: Malware Can Ruin the Customer Journey

Chemi Katz is CEO of

In this exclusive interview, Katz discusses the threat of online customer journey hijacking and offers advice on how to combat it.

85063 300x300 Namogoo CEO Chemi Katz: Malware Can Ruin the Customer Journey

Namogoo CEO Chemi Katz

CRM Buyer: What is online journey hijacking, and why is it important to prevent it?

Chemi Katz: The customer journey is the journey that e-commerce customers go on when they come to a site, and hopefully it ends with buying a product. Hijacking interferes with the customer’s journey. It can be a pop-up that the company didn’t put there, or something that will lead a customer out of the website. It’s any interference that doesn’t come from the e-commerce business itself, but from a third party that does it for malicious reasons and to make money.

It’s important to prevent it because it causes e-commerce businesses to lose money. Every e-commerce company brings a customer in to enjoy the experience and eventually buy a product. Journey hijacking leads customers to a different product, so eventually the e-commerce company loses money. When you click a product, eventually you go to a different website. It all comes down to money, and having a good experience and journey on an e-commerce website.

CRM Buyer: What are the best ways to prevent online journey hijacking?

Katz: Our installation involves adding one line of code into every page that you want to protect, and all of our clients put it on 100 percent of their pages.

Basically, the code is a living code on the client’s page and mobile device. Because of the nature of dynamic pages and the dynamic content of e-commerce, there isn’t any one truth for every page. We use machine learning and algorithms to understand what the page is on the fly.

For every client, we have some kind of model for how we think the pages should look. This code is updated many times a day, because e-commerce businesses change the content all the time, and we need to change this all the time.

CRM Buyer: Why is machine learning an important part of preventing online journey hijacking? What makes for an effective machine-learning system?

Katz: Machine learning is 70 percent of the system, and I’ll explain why. We need to be very efficient about what we do. We don’t want to add anything to the page that hinders performance, and we want to remove anything that does that.

There’s a lot of malware hijacking going on, and one of the most important things is knowing how to learn about new attacks all the time. When it sees suspicious evidence in the page or inside the code, it sends it back to our machine-learning servers, and they digest the data. They decide if it’s legit or not.

Also, if we find a malware element on one e-commerce site, we send it to others, because it’s an ongoing attack. The whole system is refreshed all the time, learning all the time, and referring from client to client and between different verticals.

CRM Buyer: How do you see client-side digital malware evolving? What’s in the future? What new threats will it pose?

Katz: In the last six months, we’ve seen a lot of this kind of malware coming from public WiFi networks at places like coffee shops and airports, and we see a lot of it even on clean devices, just from browsing.

It infects the devices through the WiFi. When I’m in Starbucks and connected into the Starbucks WiFi, I can basically by mistake or unknowingly download some kind of malware, and then I get it. We see a lot of surveys that pop up from a website, but they actually didn’t come from that website itself.

Another thing we’re witnessing is when you’re missing a plug-in, and then when you install it you get nasty malware. It’s shifting all the time, and it’s changing all the time. We need to remember that they have one goal in mind: to make money.

CRM Buyer: Does ad-blocker software protect consumers from this kind of malware and journey hijacking?

Katz: Most of the people that have ad blocking will still see banner ads, because they are competing with ad blockers. They know how to bypass them. They know how to bypass most of the ad-blocking software.

CRM Buyer: In addition to affecting the bottom line, does online journey hijacking affect other parts of the e-commerce experience, like the experience and understanding of a brand?

Katz: Yes, it affects all kinds of things: how the website looks, the color, the pictures. Malware can change anything. We see malware that puts ads when there was nothing. They create white space. For example, they can push the homepage down, and have advertising on the top.

Eventually, what the e-commerce business wanted on top of the fold can go to below the fold. All kinds of things that the e-commerce sites are working on to make the journey perfect can be ruined by this kind of hijacking.
end enn Namogoo CEO Chemi Katz: Malware Can Ruin the Customer Journey

Vivian%20Wagner Namogoo CEO Chemi Katz: Malware Can Ruin the Customer JourneyVivian Wagner has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. Her main areas of focus are technology, business, CRM, e-commerce, privacy, security, arts, culture and diversity. She has extensive experience reporting on business and technology for a variety
of outlets, including The Atlantic, The Establishment and O, The Oprah Magazine. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in modern American literature and culture. She received a first-place feature reporting award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.
Email Vivian.

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Customer Retention Secrets For Startups

When members of Lowe’s Innovation Labs first began talking with the home improvement retailer’s senior executives about how disruptive technologies would affect the future, the presentations were well received but nothing stuck.

“We’d give a really great presentation and everyone would say, ‘Great job,’ but nothing would really happen,” says Amanda Manna, head of narratives and partnerships for the lab.

The team realized that it needed to ditch the PowerPoints and try something radical. The team’s leader, Kyle Nel, is a behavioral scientist by training. He knows people are wired to receive new information best through stories. Sharing far-future concepts through narrative, he surmised, could unlock hidden potential to drive meaningful change.

So Nel hired science fiction writers to pen the future in comic book format, with characters and a narrative arc revealed pane by pane.

The first storyline, written several years before Oculus Rift became a household name, told the tale of a couple envisioning their kitchen renovation using virtual reality headsets. The comic might have been fun and fanciful, but its intent was deadly serious. It was a vision of a future in which Lowe’s might solve one of its long-standing struggles: the approximately US$ 70 billion left on the table when people are unable to start a home improvement project because they can’t envision what it will look like.

When the lab presented leaders with the first comic, “it was like a light bulb went on,” says Manna. “Not only did they immediately understand the value of the concept, they were convinced that if we didn’t build it, someone else would.”

Today, Lowe’s customers in select stores can use the HoloRoom How To virtual reality tool to learn basic DIY skills in an interactive and immersive environment.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image2 Customer Retention Secrets For StartupsOther comics followed and were greeted with similar enthusiasm—and investment, where possible. One tells the story of robots that help customers navigate stores. That comic spawned the LoweBot, which roamed the aisles of several Lowe’s stores during a pilot program in California and is being evaluated to determine next steps.

And the comic about tools that can be 3D-printed in space? Last year, Lowe’s partnered with Made in Space, which specializes in making 3D printers that can operate in zero gravity, to install the first commercial 3D printer in the International Space Station, where it was used to make tools and parts for astronauts.

The comics are the result of sending writers out on an open-ended assignment, armed with trends, market research, and other input, to envision what home improvement planning might look like in the future or what the experience of shopping will be in 10 years. The writers come back with several potential story ideas in a given area and work collaboratively with lab team members to refine it over time.

The process of working with writers and business partners to develop the comics helps the future strategy team at Lowe’s, working under chief development officer Richard D. Maltsbarger, to inhabit that future. They can imagine how it might play out, what obstacles might surface, and what steps the company would need to take to bring that future to life.

Once the final vision hits the page, the lab team can clearly envision how to work backward to enable the innovation. Importantly, the narrative is shared not only within the company but also out in the world. It serves as a kind of “bat signal” to potential technology partners with capabilities that might be required to make it happen, says Manna. “It’s all part of our strategy for staking a claim in the future.”

Companies like Lowe’s are realizing that standard ways of planning for the future won’t get them where they need to go. The problem with traditional strategic planning is that the approach, which dates back to the 1950s and has remained largely unchanged since then, is based on the company’s existing mission, resources, core competencies, and competitors.

Yet the future rarely looks like the past. What’s more, digital technology is now driving change at exponential rates. Companies must be able to analyze and assess the potential impacts of the many variables at play, determine the possible futures they want to pursue, and develop the agility to pivot as conditions change along the way.

This is why planning must become completely oriented toward—and sourced from—the future, rather than from the past or the present. “Every winning strategy is based on a compelling insight, but most strategic planning originates in today’s marketplace, which means the resulting plans are constrained to incremental innovation,” says Bob Johansen, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future. “Most corporate strategists and CEOs are just inching their way to the future.” (Read more from Bob Johansen in the Thinkers story, “Fear Factor.”)

Inching forward won’t cut it anymore. Half of the S&P 500 organizations will be replaced over the next decade, according to research company Innosight. The reason? They can’t see the portfolio of possible futures, they can’t act on them, or both. Indeed, when SAP conducts future planning workshops with clients, we find that they usually struggle to look beyond current models and assumptions and lack clear ideas about how to work toward radically different futures.

Companies that want to increase their chances of long-term survival are incorporating three steps: envisioning, planning for, and executing on possible futures. And doing so all while the actual future is unfolding in expected and unexpected ways.

Those that pull it off are rewarded. A 2017 benchmarking report from the Strategic Foresight Research Network (SFRN) revealed that vigilant companies (those with the most mature processes for identifying, interpreting, and responding to factors that induce change) achieved 200% greater market capitalization growth and 33% higher profitability than the average, while the least mature companies experienced negative market-cap growth and had 44% lower profitability.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image3 1024x572 Customer Retention Secrets For Startups

Looking Outside the Margins

“Most organizations lack sufficient capacity to detect, interpret, and act on the critically important but weak and ambiguous signals of fresh threats or new opportunities that emerge on the periphery of their usual business environment,” write George S. Day and Paul J. H. Schoemaker in their book Peripheral Vision.

But that’s exactly where effective future planning begins: examining what is happening outside the margins of day-to-day business as usual in order to peer into the future.

Business leaders who take this approach understand that despite the uncertainties of the future there are drivers of change that can be identified and studied and actions that can be taken to better prepare for—and influence—how events unfold.

That starts with developing foresight, typically a decade out. Ten years, most future planners agree, is the sweet spot. “It is far enough out that it gives you a bit more latitude to come up with a broader way to the future, allowing for disruption and innovation,” says Brian David Johnson, former chief futurist for Intel and current futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination. “But you can still see the light from it.”

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image4 Customer Retention Secrets For StartupsThe process involves gathering information about the factors and forces—technological, business, sociological, and industry or ecosystem trends—that are effecting change to envision a range of potential impacts.

Seeing New Worlds

Intel, for example, looks beyond its own industry boundaries to envision possible future developments in adjacent businesses in the larger ecosystem it operates in. In 2008, the Intel Labs team, led by anthropologist Genevieve Bell, determined that the introduction of flexible glass displays would open up a whole new category of foldable consumer electronic devices.

To take advantage of that advance, Intel would need to be able to make silicon small enough to fit into some imagined device of the future. By the time glass manufacturer Corning unveiled its ultra-slim, flexible glass surface for mobile devices, laptops, televisions, and other displays of the future in 2012, Intel had already created design prototypes and kicked its development into higher gear. “Because we had done the future casting, we were already imagining how people might use flexible glass to create consumer devices,” says Johnson.

Because future planning relies so heavily on the quality of the input it receives, bringing in experts can elevate the practice. They can come from inside an organization, but the most influential insight may come from the outside and span a wide range of disciplines, says Steve Brown, a futurist, consultant, and CEO of BaldFuturist.com who worked for Intel Labs from 2007 to 2016.

Companies may look to sociologists or behaviorists who have insight into the needs and wants of people and how that influences their actions. Some organizations bring in an applied futurist, skilled at scanning many different forces and factors likely to coalesce in important ways (see Do You Need a Futurist?).

Do You Need a Futurist?

Most organizations need an outsider to help envision their future. Futurists are good at looking beyond the big picture to the biggest picture.

Business leaders who want to be better prepared for an uncertain and disruptive future will build future planning as a strategic capability into their organizations and create an organizational culture that embraces the approach. But working with credible futurists, at least in the beginning, can jump-start the process.

“The present can be so noisy and business leaders are so close to it that it’s helpful to provide a fresh outside-in point of view,” says veteran futurist Bob Johansen.

To put it simply, futurists like Johansen are good at connecting dots—lots of them. They look beyond the boundaries of a single company or even an industry, incorporating into their work social science, technical research, cultural movements, economic data, trends, and the input of other experts.

They can also factor in the cultural history of the specific company with whom they’re working, says Brian David Johnson, futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination. “These large corporations have processes and procedures in place—typically for good reasons,” Johnson explains. “But all of those reasons have everything to do with the past and nothing to do with the future. Looking at that is important so you can understand the inertia that you need to overcome.”

One thing the best futurists will say they can’t do: predict the future. That’s not the point. “The future punishes certainty,” Johansen says, “but it rewards clarity.” The methods futurists employ are designed to trigger discussions and considerations of possibilities corporate leaders might not otherwise consider.

You don’t even necessarily have to buy into all the foresight that results, says Johansen. Many leaders don’t. “Every forecast is debatable,” Johansen says. “Foresight is a way to provoke insight, even if you don’t believe it. The value is in letting yourself be provoked.”

External expert input serves several purposes. It brings everyone up to a common level of knowledge. It can stimulate and shift the thinking of participants by introducing them to new information or ideas. And it can challenge the status quo by illustrating how people and organizations in different sectors are harnessing emerging trends.

The goal is not to come up with one definitive future but multiple possibilities—positive and negative—along with a list of the likely obstacles or accelerants that could surface on the road ahead. The result: increased clarity—rather than certainty—in the face of the unknown that enables business decision makers to execute and refine business plans and strategy over time.

Plotting the Steps Along the Way

Coming up with potential trends is an important first step in futuring, but even more critical is figuring out what steps need to be taken along the way: eight years from now, four years from now, two years from now, and now. Considerations include technologies to develop, infrastructure to deploy, talent to hire, partnerships to forge, and acquisitions to make. Without this vital step, says Brown, everybody goes back to their day jobs and the new thinking generated by future planning is wasted. To work, the future steps must be tangible, concrete, and actionable.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image5 Customer Retention Secrets For StartupsOrganizations must build a roadmap for the desired future state that anticipates both developments and detours, complete with signals that will let them know if they’re headed in the right direction. Brown works with corporate leaders to set indicator flags to look out for on the way to the anticipated future. “If we see these flagged events occurring in the ecosystem, they help to confirm the strength of our hypothesis that a particular imagined future is likely to occur,” he explains.

For example, one of Brown’s clients envisioned two potential futures: one in which gestural interfaces took hold and another in which voice control dominated. The team set a flag to look out for early examples of the interfaces that emerged in areas such as home appliances and automobiles. “Once you saw not just Amazon Echo but also Google Home and other copycat speakers, it would increase your confidence that you were moving more towards a voice-first era rather than a gesture-first era,” Brown says. “It doesn’t mean that gesture won’t happen, but it’s less likely to be the predominant modality for communication.”

How to Keep Experiments from Being Stifled

Once organizations have a vision for the future, making it a reality requires testing ideas in the marketplace and then scaling them across the enterprise. “There’s a huge change piece involved,”
says Frank Diana, futurist and global consultant with Tata Consultancy Services, “and that’s the place where most
businesses will fall down.”

Many large firms have forgotten what it’s like to experiment in several new markets on a small scale to determine what will stick and what won’t, says René Rohrbeck, professor of strategy at the Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences. Companies must be able to fail quickly, bring the lessons learned back in, adapt, and try again.

SAP Q417 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image6 Customer Retention Secrets For StartupsLowe’s increases its chances of success by creating master narratives across a number of different areas at once, such as robotics, mixed-reality tools, on-demand manufacturing, sustainability, and startup acceleration. The lab maps components of each by expected timelines: short, medium, and long term. “From there, we’ll try to build as many of them as quickly as we can,” says Manna. “And we’re always looking for that next suite of things that we should be working on.” Along the way certain innovations, like the HoloRoom How-To, become developed enough to integrate into the larger business as part of the core strategy.

One way Lowe’s accelerates the process of deciding what is ready to scale is by being open about its nascent plans with the world. “In the past, Lowe’s would never talk about projects that weren’t at scale,” says Manna. Now the company is sharing its future plans with the media and, as a result, attracting partners that can jump-start their realization.

Seeing a Lowe’s comic about employee exoskeletons, for example, led Virginia Tech engineering professor Alan Asbeck to the retailer. He helped develop a prototype for a three-month pilot with stock employees at a Christiansburg, Virginia, store.

The high-tech suit makes it easier to move heavy objects. Employees trying out the suits are also fitted with an EEG headset that the lab incorporates into all its pilots to gauge unstated, subconscious reactions. That direct feedback on the user experience helps the company refine its innovations over time.

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Make the Future Part of the Culture

Regardless of whether all the elements of its master narratives come to pass, Lowe’s has already accomplished something important: It has embedded future thinking into the culture of the company.

Companies like Lowe’s constantly scan the environment for meaningful economic, technology, and cultural changes that could impact its future assessments and plans. “They can regularly draw on future planning to answer challenges,” says Rohrbeck. “This intensive, ongoing, agile strategizing is only possible because they’ve done their homework up front and they keep it updated.”

It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen in the future, but companies can help to shape it, says Manna of Lowe’s. “It’s really about painting a picture of a preferred future state that we can try to achieve while being flexible and capable of change as we learn things along the way.” D!

About the Authors

Dan Wellers is Global Lead, Digital Futures, at SAP.

Kai Goerlich is Chief Futurist at SAP’s Innovation Center Network.

Stephanie Overby is a Boston-based business and technology journalist.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.


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The CMO + Chief Customer Officer: The Beyonce & Jay-Z of the C-Suite

20180109 bnr man woman fistbump 351x200 The CMO + Chief Customer Officer: The Beyonce & Jay Z of the C Suite

Like any relationship, however, the CMO-CCO partnership may take some work in the beginning to create a cohesive, fruitful bond.

The starting point should be recognizing that both executives share big goals — increasing revenue, delivering better products and engendering more profitable and longer-lasting customers. Then it’s a matter of zeroing in on the synergies to meet it.

For any CMOs still having doubts about that new chief customer officer down the hall, here are three things to remember:

Chief Customer Officer is a Natural Partner

The CMO’s role has evolved in recent years thanks to new technologies that equip marketing organizations with the data to better understand customer behavior and create a seamless digital experience across the customer lifecycle. This example of “knowledge is power” is a reason that many chief marketing officers and heads of sales have worked more collaboratively in the pre-sales environment. The same should hold true for CMOs and CCOs post sale.

For example, CMOs have championed the use of marketing automation technology to track and measure a user’s behavior on a website or what they did with an email and choose responses based on what the data shows. The CMO can help the CCO use the same techniques to market to customers with the same intelligence and creativity as to prospects.

The CMO also should embrace working with the CCO to take the same marketing tone, style and voice that the company has carefully cultivated and extended to customer retention and growth efforts.

  • Are messages and activities aligned?
  • Do customers receive, say, a newsletter that seems disjointed from the company’s other marketing?

The CMO can help the chief customer officer tell a powerful story and encourage a brand crush among prospects and customers alike. CCOs, meanwhile, can aid the CMO in better understanding customers’ needs and challenges so he or she can create digital experiences that truly reflect the marketplace.

Having a CCO Is Good for the CMO

The CMO of yesterday focused squarely on feeding leads to sales. The modern CMO is charged with a broader range of responsibilities in not only generating leads but in growing brand awareness, impacting the bottom line, retaining customers and turning them into the company’s biggest advocates. To remain vital as a CMO in this new model, you need relevancy in the post-sales environment. You need to be asking yourself: How do I partner with this CCO who will need to simultaneously personalize and automate more customer interactions?

CMOs should look at the CCO’s arrival as a tremendous opportunity. Here is a C-level executive who will partner with you on delivering on the brand promise!

Think of Yourself as a Pioneer

Despite all the buzz about the rise of the CCO, only 22 percent of the Fortune 100 had one in 2014, according to a CCO Council survey. And in day-to-day practice, many businesses still market far more in pre-sales than in post.

In some cases, companies think of customer marketing as programs that leverage the voice of the customer to influence purchase behaviors — including customer references and case studies, rather than as a strategic, coordinated set of activities designed to help customers realize the value of what they’ve purchased and compel them to want to be brand advocates. By locking arms with the CCO, CMOs can be at the forefront of a cool new approach to driving revenue and customer loyalty.

So, you see, the CCO is far from a threat to the CMO but an amazing opportunity.

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Putting The Customer Into Context

customercontext Putting The Customer Into Context

As first appeared on Business Computing World.

Customer-centricity may have dominated the business narrative in recent years, but things are set to go up a gear as context is added to the mix, bringing us to the cusp of a truly transformative operating model. The rule book has been ripped up. The search for a relevant audience to fit with an existing service offering no longer cuts it in an era in which the customer is driving the scope of the proposition at their convenience. More than ever before, businesses must adjust and react to consumer demands to deliver an engaging experience if they are to compete and drive revenue and profitability.

Crucially, this means being able to pick up on even the most subtle changes in customer behavior and make the timely interventions needed to deliver on these heightened expectations. Maintaining optimal service through a preferred channel at a preferred time must be offered as standard to secure customer loyalty.

Getting to this point ultimately starts with having far better knowledge of the customer, so they are seen as individuals, rather than a segment to place into convenient categories. Only then can we understand their personal motivations behind the purchase journey, from what keeps them on a particular web page to establishing why they haven’t renewed a subscription. Here, the value of customer intelligence and the speed with which it can be collated and utilized becomes the game-changer.

It is of course, an entirely logical progression. Thanks to the strides in digital technology we have a far more multi-layered and expansive pool of customer data to work with, relegating the sole reliance of focus groups and surveys that barely scratch the surface to the distant past.

Similarly, customer information is no longer confined to the parameters of a CRM database. Real-time sales feedback, peer-to peer exchanges that play out across online communities as well as call center data, can provide far more meaningful and richer insights and, when combined, a much fuller picture. The challenge therefore becomes how we centralize and integrate all the disparate strands of data and harness analytics to drive actionable insight for faster and more intuitive decision-making.

Only by interconnecting everything, from on-premises to cloud applications, microservices to APIs and connected devices, do we have the right foundation from which to introduce a more contextually-fluid approach to the customer experience. This can then consider an individual’s location, intent, community, even environment, ready to introduce far greater personalisation into the product and broader experience.

It’s a process that has brought significant transformation to the financial services industry, as it strives to meet the increasingly ‘anywhere, anytime’ service expectations with greater digital innovation and flexibility, particularly through mobile and social services.

Advanced algorithms drill deep content analysis of a customer’s financial status, objectives, risk aversion and respond to the nuances of their personality, behaviour, and even current mood with more pertinent offerings. Furthermore, intelligent apps make financial information more accessible and user friendly, so there is less need to trawl through the reams of literature and competing information, perfect for the digitally savvy but time poor.

This has reaped dividends when it comes to the consumption of investment services, an area that has long been in need of an overhaul, as perceptions around costs and complexity deter a broader audience. Services that consider the fundamental question of why someone is investing in the first place, and then link the product to their specific goals and milestones such as saving for house or tuition fees, is an example of a more personal touch.

Further tailored interventions include features that encourage socially responsible investment decisions, offering a sliding scale of ethical organizations based on set criteria as well as introducing a more conversational and collaborative approach to an investment decision by linking the customer to relevant online communities.

For the user, there may be a frictionless continuity across channels, but behind the scenes, things are working overtime to deliver it—a complex infrastructure spanning integration, event processing, analytics, and master data management, which must be both flexible and robust to prevent data loss and ensure security isn’t compromized. The connected customer necessitates a fully connected architecture, free from silos, just a common set of processes for each channel, ensuring customer interactions can be managed and tracked with total uniformity.

Today’s customer doesn’t make any allowances if latency compromises their mobile shopping experience or if their details are forgotten or mislaid as they channel hop. And businesses have no excuse—all the information is there, along with the infrastructure to integrate it.

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Data Modeling Is Key in New Customer Insight Platform

Heap on Tuesday introduced a new feature set for its autonomous customer insight platform.

Among the additions:

  • Non-destructive data modeling — Users can define and model new insights without touching the raw data structure, which allows faster iteration and speeds up productivity. Virtual event definitions let users retroactively update metrics on the fly wherever they are used.
  • Sources — 15 new data source connectors, including connectors to Salesforce, Marketo, and leading email and payment providers, make all history and events are available with one-click connectivity. No custom coding is required.
  • Data integrity core — A data scoring system automatically ranks all customer data by level of usefulness and trustworthiness so companies can measure, define and control data access.
  • Dashboards — Users can access data visualization reports across departmental data silos to get a bird’s-eye view of customers.

Event definitions, user segments and other higher-level semantic concepts “live in our data control plane and can be edited at will,” noted Heap CMO Shawn Hansen. “Renaming an event, combining multiple events into one, creating new user segments and more are all possible by just interacting with our UI. There’s no need to edit tracking code or perform SQL migrations.”

Heap’s non-destructive data modeling “is the secret sauce,” said Constellation Research Principal Analyst Ray Wang.

“The other features are expected if you want to play in this space,” he told CRM Buyer.

The Advent of Sources

Heap’s Sources analytics tool integrates with 18 third-party services to let users gain insights into the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and ads, for example, without needing to write code.

Sources offers the following capabilities:

  • Captures all data from every source;
  • Lets management maintain full control over which events to expose to teams and how the events are structured in reports;
  • Retroactively backfills all historical data whenever possible; and
  • Has a standardized event schema that can be accessed in users’ data warehouse through Heap SQL.

The underlying raw data is separated from the semantic names and definitions, which “makes it really easy to impose whatever schema or taxonomy you want and change that on the fly,” Heap’s Hansen said.

“Storage is so cheap that we can capture everything,” he told CRM Buyer.

“Because we capture everything and let you create virtual schema you can blow away on demand, you can think up and ask new questions and do it on the fly,” Hansen pointed out. “Customers can access the data and instantly rewire the question.”

Heap’s data is stored on the Amazon Web Services cloud. Its datastore is a custom distributed system built on top of PostgreSQL.

How Heap Works

The Heap platform automatically captures, validates and connects all customer data, which lets users derive meaningful customer insights instantly to better drive business decisions.

“Infinite ambient orchestration is where applications are headed next,” Constellation’s Wang said. Heap’s “customer insight platform is automating the hard part of integration and orchestration.”

The Heap autonomous customer insights platform has three key layers — data capture, control and insights:

  • The data capture plane automatically captures all behavioral data from sources across departments and domain-specific tools into one standard schema;
  • The control plane ensures data integrity and lets users change event definitions on the fly; and
  • the insights plane, which sits on top of the data plane, lets users process networked insights across marketing, sales and customer success silos.

“Bringing together all sources and points of customer data insights is a common problem for companies that have developed their marketing and sales teams over time,” noted Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research.

“Key to the success of any such approach is usability, where Heap appears to have significant success, speed of integration — and of course, price,” she told CRM Buyer.

Keeping the Raw Data Pristine

Data is benchmarked against peer groups and checked statistically for freshness, accuracy and usefulness.

“The data integrity core appears like a modern approach to master data management on a broad scale,” Wettemann remarked, which “could be very interesting provided [Heap’s] scoring is transparent and understandable to users.”
end enn Data Modeling Is Key in New Customer Insight Platform

Richard%20Adhikari Data Modeling Is Key in New Customer Insight PlatformRichard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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What Exactly is Customer Experience Management?

gettyimages 534827625 e1510935521779 What Exactly is Customer Experience Management?

Everyone knows that a business cannot succeed without its customers and in order to keep them happy, you have to take the time to get to know them, who they are and what they want out of the services you provide. Many businesses use CRM software to help foster stronger relationships with its following by using it to track customer information. Knowing their purchase history, social media activity and the amount of times they have communicated with your company, helps you marketing toward them more intuitively. However, it isn’t the only software made to help strengthen a business/customer relationship. Let’s talk about another acronym, CEM.

What Is It?

Customer experience management is the collection of processes used by a company to oversee and organize all interactions between a customer and an organization through the customer lifecycle. The customer lifecycle means the progression between a customer considering, purchasing and ultimately maintaining loyalty to a product or brand. This software basically helps businesses focus on the needs of its customers through keeping a close eye on all interactions from beginning to end.

What’s unique about this software is that it makes a business view itself from the perspective of the customer. Because of that, decisions made by businesses can be made with the customer’s thoughts and emotions in mind, acting as a heavy influence. Customer experience management’s goal is to optimize interactions from a customer’s prospective and create customer loyalty. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, your customers are the most vital part of a business and their thoughts and opinions matter.

Difference Between CRM and CEM

In certain ways, both CRM and CEM may seem like they are the same type of software. They focus on the satisfaction of the customer and are both tools that are made to capture customer data. While they do bear resemblance to one another, the end goal for both software’s are completely different. Since we already know that customer experience management software tracks and oversees all interactions between a customer and organization throughout a customer lifecycle, let’s explain CRM.

Customer relationship management refers to strategies used by companies to manage and analyze customer information and communication. Information such as contact information, social media communication and purchase history to create sales opportunities can all be maintained in the system. Knowing this information allows a business to market and provide top notch customer service to its clientele.

The difference? CRM is a great tool for gathering data on your customers, getting to know them in terms of data and numbers. CEM allows you to see your customers are people who act as the most important part of your brand.

Is It For You?

If you are interested in knowing more about your customer base, customer experience management may be a good fit for you as it is designed to collect and analyze customer feedback and data. There are many benefits to paying close attention to what your customers believe and listening to them may benefit a business in the long run.

In the world of software, there are a ton of acronyms that float around in daily conversation. It is easy to get overwhelmed with this constant source of information. While it is easy to feel swamped with details about them all, they are important to know, especially if you are a business owner looking to closely incorporate customers into your business decisions.

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Reshaping the Retail Customer Experience

digital retail Reshaping the Retail Customer Experience

Technology is changing the way people shop and retailers are realizing that consumers are no longer captive to retailers. They are in charge. Consumers can now buy anything, anywhere.

To survive, retailers must now compete on the service level. In fact, 78% of millennials prefer spending money on experiences rather than products. A great example are Apple stores. They’ve done a terrific job at providing customers with an experience. Customers can try new products, ask questions of knowledgeable sales associates, and learn new ways to use the products. Look at any mall in America and those stores are consistently packed.

But how do they do it? They make it easy for consumers to engage when and how they want—say, from their mobile devices while they are at home or on the move. They create fluid, omnichannel experiences by connecting all touch points of the customer including desktop, mobile, and in-store. They have equipped their sales associates with technology, tools, and information to enable terrific customer experiences. In-store associates have product answers and they can check shoppers out from anywhere in the store.

Technology runs their stores. The lines between physical and digital blur—for example, brick- and-mortar stores become fulfillment and return centers for online orders. And, consumers have the same experience online as they do in the store. It’s all one seamless coherent experience.

But many large retailers are saddled with legacy systems and large real estate footprints where the digital portion of their organization is totally separate from everything else. Implementation of trailblazing technologies like artificial intelligence, Internet of things, and big data requires a total shift not only in retail strategy but also in the general structure of organizations. Such core re-workings are exactly what digital transformation calls for — it is a new way of thinking and turning your business into a full-fledged, digital retailer.

By embracing change, providing customers with what they want when they want, by helping improve inventory and creating experiences that customers remember and want to interact with, that’s how retailers will survive.

To see all the ways TIBCO is helping major retailers digitally transform, visit our new Retail page.

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Five Ways To Boost CX And Provide Superior Customer Service

In May 2017, a computational social scientist from The Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge stood before an audience at the Linux Foundation’s Apache Big Data conference and revealed how close we’ve come to the ultimate goal of marketing: an easily scalable, highly accurate way to predict customer preferences using minimal data.

When she was still a PhD candidate, Sandra Matz created a Facebook ad campaign targeting people based on nothing more than how extroverted their Facebook Likes indicated they were. People with Likes associated with extroverts saw ads for a party game played in a group. People with more introverted Likes saw ads for a quiet game meant to be played solo.

The campaign required only simple algorithms and no advanced analytics. Yet over seven days of testing, the targeted ads generated up to 15 times higher click-through and conversion rates—and significantly more purchases and revenue for the game company.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image2 Five Ways To Boost CX And Provide Superior Customer Service“We developed this approach to show that you can achieve highly accurate behavioral and psychological targeting with a minimal amount of data and relatively simple machine learning tools,” says Matz, who is now an assistant professor of management at Columbia University’s business school.

As effective as this experiment was, Matz suggests that it’s still rudimentary compared to what could be done with more and richer data from more sources. And it’s downright primitive given the possibilities of applying more sophisticated Big Data analytics.

These possibilities have created a watershed moment for marketing and its role in the business.

Spiraling Down the Marketing Funnel

Tension has always simmered over marketing’s contribution to business success. The business knows it can’t sell products or services if it doesn’t make customers aware of them, but the impact of marketing strategy on sales and revenue is hard to quantify and reliably replicate—which, in the age of the data-driven enterprise, often leaves some business leaders not just undervaluing marketing but actively mistrusting it. No wonder human resources consultancy Russell Reynolds reports that the 2016 turnover rate among CMOs was the highest it has seen since it began tracking the statistic in 2012.

Most companies still determine customers’ readiness to buy by using a primitive model known as the marketing funnel, which sorts customers into increasingly smaller groups as they progress from first becoming aware of a company to buying, using, and finally advocating for the company’s products. Different versions have different definitions and numbers of stages, and some approaches see the model as a circle, but they all have one thing in common: their ability to sort customers into various stages is limited by the amount of knowledge the company has about each customer.

As a result, the marketing funnel ends up leaking. Some customers back away because they feel harassed by campaigns that don’t apply to their needs, while some of those who are interested fall through the cracks from a lack of attention. Many data-hungry business leaders think of the marketing funnel as no more than a variation of “throw something against the wall and see if it sticks,” and with the proliferation of digital channels and diffusion of customer attention, they have less patience than ever with that approach.

The silver lining is that a more precise, quantifiable way to build customer relationships is emerging. Done properly, it promises to defuse the tension between marketing and the rest of the business, too.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image3 1024x572 Five Ways To Boost CX And Provide Superior Customer Service

The Defining Moment

The Cambridge University experiment is one more step toward the long-held marketing dream of the “segment of one.” This concept of marketing messages that are highly granular, even individually tailored, has been around since the late 1980s. Over the last 15 to 20 years, as customer behavior has become digitalized as never before, marketers have been optimistic that they could capture this data and use it to tailor their messaging with laser-like precision.

Yet what’s achievable in theory has been impossible in practice. We’re still struggling to find the right tools to move beyond the basics of demographic targeting. The rise of the internet, smartphones, and social media has generated more types of information about customer behavior in larger amounts than ever before. But using digitally expressed sentiment about everything from toys to turbines as the basis for accurately disseminating highly individualized marketing messages is still time consuming and cost prohibitive.

However, experiments like Matz’s are bringing us closer to creating highly personalized customer experiences—perhaps not always at the individual level but certainly at a level of granularity that will let us unequivocally determine how to best target and measure marketing programs.

Liking Lady Gaga

Between 2007 and 2012, Psychometrics Centre researchers gathered seven million responses to a simple questionnaire for Facebook users. The carefully designed questions measured respondents’ levels of extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism, a constellation of basic personality traits known as the Big Five.

With the respondents’ permission, the researchers used simple machine learning tools to correlate each person’s responses with the official Facebook Pages that the person had liked, such as Pages for books, movies, bands, hobbies, organizations, and foods. They soon saw that certain personality traits and certain Likes went hand in hand.

For example, most people who liked Lady Gaga’s Page tested as extroverts, which made liking the Lady Gaga Page a relevant data point indicating that someone was probably an extrovert. By 2016, Matz was able to create a lively Facebook ad to be shown only to people who had liked a significant number of official Pages that seemed to be linked to extroversion. A more serene ad was shown only to those whose Likes suggested that they were introverts.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image4 Five Ways To Boost CX And Provide Superior Customer ServiceDespite the large size of the Psychometric Centre’s data set, what’s most remarkable about its work is how few data points within that data set were necessary to build a reliable profile that could model useful predictions. Matz told EnterpriseTech that the algorithm the Centre developed needs, on average, just 65 liked Pages to understand someone’s Big Five personality traits better than their friends do, 120 to understand them better than their family members, and 250 to understand them better than a partner or spouse. This may be the first sign that the era of true behavioral marketing is upon us.

Of course, most marketers want to know far more about customers than how outgoing or reserved they are. Scraping Facebook Likes isn’t enough to give them the holistic customer understanding they crave—not when they have an entire universe of other data to consider. The race is on to identify from the vast spectrum of available customer data not only which specific online behaviors have a predictive element such as extroversion or introversion but also which ones will drive the most potent response to specific product or service messaging.

Complicated? Yes—but we are within reach of the algorithms we need to connect the dots for greater customer insight. By reaching out over new channels with more accurate behavior-based messaging, companies could transform the entire customer journey.

A Customized Journey for Each Customer

Attribution, the ability to know the source of a sales lead, is key to behavioral targeting. The more details a business knows about what its customers have already done, the more accurately it can predict what they will do next.

In the past, developing a customer profile relied on last-touch attribution analysis, that is, evaluating the impact of the last interaction a prospective customer had with a brand before becoming a lead. The problem was that companies could rarely be certain what that last touch was, given how much activity still takes place offline and isn’t captured or quantified.

Companies also couldn’t be certain how, or even if, a last touch—be it downloading a white paper, visiting a store, or getting a word-of-mouth recommendation—accelerated the customer through the marketing funnel. They could only predict revenue by looking at how many people were deemed to be at a specific stage and extrapolating from past data what percentage of them were likely to move ahead.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image5 Five Ways To Boost CX And Provide Superior Customer ServiceToday, we’re capturing so much more information about people’s activities that we have a far more accurate idea of both what the last touch was and how influential it was. Behavioral targeting makes any content a customer interacts with valuable in analyzing the customer’s journey. A company can use hard data about those interactions to see where each individual prospect is in the customer journey and predict how likely each one is to continue moving forward.

The company can then generate a tailored offer or other event to nudge individuals along based on what has been successful with other customers who buy the same things and behave in the same ways. For example, a large grocer may send out two million individualized offers each week based on loyalty card activity. This may not strictly create a segment of one, but it creates many small segments of customers with similar behaviors based on what the grocer knows to be effective.

As Cambridge University’s experiment in creating an algorithm to identify and target introverts and extroverts proves, more precise messaging is more effective. By using more complex machine learning algorithms to further filter and refine successful messages to target smaller groups, companies could boost their conversion rates to as high as 50%—an exponential increase beyond today’s average rates.

By using machine learning to speed up the testing of different campaigns and to continuously compare results, companies could rapidly create a dataset about every potential customer’s responses and then benchmark it against others’ responses. This would let them determine individual prospects’ likely responses based on concrete actions rather than assumptions.

For super-luxury brands with a limited number of customers and the ability to capture a vast amount of information about each one, this could lead to true segment-of-one marketing. For other brands, the challenge is not just to figure out who the customer is and what messages to send but also how to scale that personalization to segments of tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of customers at a time. To do that both effectively and quickly, companies will need to leverage machine learning, the Internet of Things, and other advanced technologies that enable accurate predictive models. Companies can then benchmark their projected hit rates against their actual results and refine their algorithms for even greater agility and responsiveness.

The Next Steps of Predictive Marketing

Effective behavioral targeting requires companies to identify all the relevant data points, including external data points that indicate which information is valuable. This calls for data scientists who can spot and remove the irrelevant data points that are at the far ends of the curve and distill what remains into meaningful algorithms. It also requires machine learning tools capable of high-volume, high-speed listening, assessing, learning, and making recommendations to improve the algorithm over time.

Once you’ve created a baseline of primary criteria, you can determine the important criteria by which to segment your customer base. To use an oversimplified example, imagine that you own a coffee shop and you want to increase sales of high-margin bakery items. You need to look not at the customers who always get a muffin with their coffee or at those who never do but at those who buy a muffin sometimes, so that you can start to identify the triggers that make them choose to indulge.

To scale this process, look at both user-based and item-based affinities. User-based affinities link customers who have similar interests and shopping patterns. Item-based affinities link customers based on what they buy, individually or in groups of items. Using machine learning to pair and cross-reference these two factors will enable you to create messages that are personalized enough to seem individualized, even though they’re actually targeting small, multi-person segments.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image6 Five Ways To Boost CX And Provide Superior Customer ServiceRetailers of all types collect data about individuals, down to location, date, time, and SKU of the sale. They may experiment with behavioral targeting by making in-the-moment offers based on what they already know about their customers. For example, they may use a mobile app with geofencing to be alerted when a customer using the app is in the store. The alert triggers back-end systems to look up the customer’s purchase history, generate a relevant offer, and deliver that offer to the customer’s smartphone while the customer is still in the store.

The Line Between Marketing and Manipulation

Just the idea of receiving marketing messages influenced by their behavior will disturb some customers. When marketing is designed, as behavioral targeting is, to maximize engagement, the value of the content depends less on whether it’s useful to the audience or even true and more on whether it gets the target audience to engage and reveal another piece of the behavioral puzzle. As a result, companies considering behavioral marketing must consider a question as old as marketing itself: where is the line between advertising and propaganda?

Creating personal profiles of customers based on their actions and personalities will become inexpensive and easy, for better or worse. Better will lead to more relevant and compelling offers based on predictive models of what customers would like to buy next. Worse will create (or at least look like) scalable, granular manipulation.

If companies hope to apply this level of targeted marketing without coming across as intrusive or invasive, they will need to be completely transparent about what they’re doing and how—and with whom they’re sharing the information. Most shoppers say they’re willing to give up data about themselves if it leads to a better shopping experience and more relevant recommendations.

Numerous studies show that customers are comfortable sharing their buying patterns and preferences as long as it doesn’t compromise their personally identifiable information. Nonetheless, they may decide otherwise if they believe that by welcoming you into their lives, they’re throwing open the doors to strangers as well.

SAP Q317 DigitalDoubles Feature3 Image7 1024x572 Five Ways To Boost CX And Provide Superior Customer Service

As data mining for behavioral targeting becomes more common, companies will have to offer customers the opportunity to opt in and out at varying levels of detail. They will also need to identify and flag the significant minority of customers who prefer not to be profiled in such depth (or at all). Machine learning will be invaluable in responding to complaints on social media, tracking the relevant details of offers that were ignored or got negative reactions, and otherwise ensuring that companies don’t misuse customer data or misunderstand consumer wants and needs.

“The entire paradigm of targeting and campaign implies a vendor doing something to customers,” says Mark Bonchek, founder and “chief epiphany officer” at Shift Thinking, a Boston-based consulting firm that helps companies pursue digital transformation. “It implies getting people to do what you want them to do rather than helping them do what they want to do,” he says. “Be clear on the mental model behind your behavioral targeting. Is it more like a friend figuring out the right gift for a friend or a salesperson trying to close a deal with a prospect? People don’t want to be targets.”

Instead, Bonchek suggests, think of behavioral targeting as a way to build a reciprocal relationship that lets you enhance the customer experience at multiple touch points, not all of them actual transactions. Utility companies send customers information about their own and their neighbors’ energy use so they can benchmark themselves. The utilities often follow up with suggestions about how to save both power and money. Meanwhile, a credit card issuer could help customers understand their purchasing patterns and discover new stores or service providers.

“Loyalty is an emotion first and behavior second,” Bonchek says. “It’s the difference between pushing customers through a funnel and helping them achieve a shared purpose.”

The Art of Scientific Marketing

In mid-20th century New York City, a small local chain of markets developed a national reputation for customer service. It let favored customers call in orders and pay for them at pickup. Managers kept lists—handwritten lists, no less—of their best customers’ preferred products and called those customers with special offers. People were happy to pay slightly higher prices overall in exchange for exclusive bargains and highly customized service.

Although it leverages new technologies like machine learning and Big Data, behavioral targeting will in many ways bring us full circle to that hands-on era in which companies created relevant offers that made customers feel valued and understood. Matz believes it would be a competitive advantage for companies to let customers interact with their profiles and even correct them to ensure that they only receive offers that meet their needs and preferences.

As more situational data pours in from smartphones and wearables to be analyzed by AI, she adds, behavioral targeting could become something more immersive than mere marketing. “If you know from that data that someone is not just an extrovert with specific preferences but that they’re currently in a good mood, you can start fine-tuning messages for that particular point in time,” she says. “We’ll move beyond static profiles to interactions based on characteristics that fluctuate.”

With enough data to work with, she suggests, behavioral targeting could become less about making offers and more about informing customers about their options at any given moment, in real time. D!

About the Authors

Denise Champion is Vice President of Strategy, Research, and Insights for Global Marketing at SAP.

Jeff Harvey is Global COO, SAP Analytics & Insight at SAP.

Lori Mitchell-Keller is Global General Manager, Consumer Industries at SAP.

Jeff Woods is Global COO, SAP Leonardo | Data and Analytics.

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.


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