We live in an era of disruption, which is not news to any of us. The Internet and new technologies have left entire industries leveled, or more accurately “redefined” in their wake. It seems as if something better, more efficient, more engaging, or exciting is announced with great fanfare virtually every day. Behavior has been modified, skills marginalized, and new skills glorified as a result of this new world. Can you believe the surplus of data scientists in industry today? Just kidding.
Quick customer experience story – I recently received a text message late one night informing me of a delayed flight the next morning due to maintenance. I appreciated the notice, but when I went to try to look for options to reschedule via a telephone agent I was put on hold for 35 minutes. Once I had a live person, I was informed that there were really no other options but to arrive at the airport as planned in the hope of a potential change. I did arrive as planned, but was still unable to make any adjustments to my itinerary with that airline or any other airline. Meanwhile, I continued to receive text after text informing me of continued delays of my original flight, which eventually left me with no options to get out that day. What could have been different? Well for one, maybe an acknowledgement in one of the 7 different text messages that were sent apologizing for the issue might have been a start. Maybe a mobile coupon for breakfast at the airport while I continued to wait would have been welcome. The intent was good, but the experience was not and my brand affinity certainly went down.
What does this mean from a marketing perspective? How do companies best determine where to place their bets of spend in terms of both marketing infrastructure (marketing technology, internal resources, and/or marketing service provider selection), and enablement (campaign strategy and execution)? While campaigns come and go, investments in infrastructure can last a really long time and therefore carry greater risk. It of course is not just the explicit costs of an investment, but the costs that are not always quantified such as the time and resources spent during the selection process. Some examples include indirect costs such as procurement, external consultants, HR, training, etc. all in the name of making infrastructure decisions.
In light of this, asking how a prospective employee, Marketing Service Provider, or product is going to provide a positive impact to the end consumer experience is a great place to start. For me as a consumer, how I feel about a brand greatly influences my likelihood to purchase or purchase again. Where do I get the most value? It often is not just a pricing question, but what kind of value am I getting in terms of service, quality, and “emotional equity?" There are so many ways to provide a direct response communication, build engagement with new and existing customers, and improve brand affinity. This is where the disruption comes in for a brand regarding where to spend infrastructure money. While mobile is a critical channel, it still comes down to intent and execution. The cool, shiny new toy will not necessarily bring real value to a consumer if execution does not match intent, or even worse if the consumer does not care.
At the end of the day, I want to receive a relevant and timely communication which could come in any form online or offline. In fact today, I believe that direct mail is an underutilized channel for many companies when it comes to acquisition and expansion of a customer relationship. Direct mail allows you to drive consumers to online and other channels seamlessly, and break through some of the clutter that we now experience in other channels. PURLs, QR codes, and Augmented Reality driving consumers to microsites for interaction make it easy for this transition to allow a customer to learn more, take advantage of an offer, and improve engagement. Complementary emails, along with online and mobile display also can work hand in hand with the direct mail for a full “surround sound” effect. It is critical to create a consistent experience and for brands to speak in a single voice. The methods and sophistication that firms can use to communicate with me are impressive. Here’s to the companies that get it right and despite the complexity keep it simple for me.