If I asked a seasoned marketing executive to define a successful customer contact strategy, the responses I received would be something along the lines of:
“Right Message, Right Person, Right Time, Right (Preferred) Channel”
However, in today’s business environment it appears less and less of us are in this idealistic state.
Most firms structure their business around products, services and channels. The result is often uncoordinated and inconsistent communication across lines of business. In extreme cases, it has become almost a “free-for-all effort” within every Company’s industry group/business unit/practice to reach a firm’s top clients frequently. Worse, if you are a company in very diverse businesses, not only is the communication uncoordinated and inconsistent….it also may be conflicting.
As consumers, we’ve all experienced the “fatigue” associated with too much communication. For example insurance companies, banks and credit card companies notoriously contact their clients with billing questions, online statements and numerous upsell opportunities. It can add up to a poor customer experience and a compromised brand.
Forrester Research, in a 2007 survey of database marketers, found that only 9% of them felt their communications was integrated within their company across channels and business units. This percentage was down from their 2005 survey. I imagine if (when) they do the survey again, the downward slide will continue.
Why is this happening? A few reasons:
– Lack of a centralized contact management tool. All companies should have a database that contains complete customer data and transactional history. Few companies do. Does yours?
– Organizational structures that don’t encourage business units to work together. Although few companies will admit it, research (and this author’s experience) shows that structure and process are often the biggest barriers to companies mastering a contact management strategy. Divisions or Business Units tend to focus on “what’s in it for them” instead of focusing on enhancing customer experience and as a result, enhancing the Company’s brand.
– Business Plans, which marketing communication is a part of, are built in isolation. When was the last time you thought about what your counterpart in another business unit was doing to meet his or her numbers? If you share the same customer and prospect target audience, shouldn’t you collaborate?
– Lack of a centralized owner for customer contact. To adopt a vogue term from the Obama administration, very few companies have a “communication czar” who takes a holistic view of client contact for a company.
In the next blog, I will recommend a few solutions to consider. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you.