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One-to-One Marketing: If you could, would you?

May 4, 2011 (comments: 0)

The concept of one-to-one marketing has been described and predicted for nearly 30 years. The idea being that as databases, containing information on prospects’ needs, habits, likes and dislikes, continue to grow, retailers should be using this data to fashion highly personalized offers.

While many of the major retailers have made good strides, main stream success has remained elusive—especially for financial institutions. Most continue to seek a fool-proof way to automate the process of zeroing in on the “next best product” to offer their customers.

As a result, millions of dollars are being spent annually to gather and mine data on existing customers in hopes of identifying “cross-selling” opportunities based on “calculated” needs.

MCIF approach misses the mark
Today, the focus of much of these mining efforts is to create ”campaigns” where offers are made through a range of media (i.e. newspapers, billboards, radio, TV and the Web); and, groups of customers or prospects in a geographical area are targeted for a specific product.

To launch and manage these marketing campaigns institutions invest in MCIF technology as a basic way to provide a structure for managing (one size fits all) campaign activities. But, this approach is outdated, and a poor use of limited corporate resources. This is especially true as channel investments continue at a rapid pace with a second generation of internet banking, mobile banking and the use of social media; not to mention the sales training investments for branch and call center staff over the past 5 years.

Enable front-line staff to close business
The opportunity exists right now to change this practice. It’s time to stop launching global campaigns and instead, fashion personalized offers that are delivered to customers and prospects through your existing channels. Don’t make any more expensive media placements! Enable your frontline staff to deliver offers and close business on the spot or effortlessly (automatically) refer customers to an appropriate representative for closure.

How? It’s all about the unification of delivery channels…because unification allows for true integration of your sales and marketing programs and the ability to learn more about the customer, directly from the customer! Beginning with the earliest new account activity and building with “on-boarding” campaigns and subsequent interactions with the customer, you can capture insights into their real-life needs and product interests—rather than “calculated” values essentially spit out by an MCIF system. 

Reel customers in via their channel(s) of choice
Just imagine…your front-line staff and self-service channels can actually ask a customer about their needs, lifestyle factors and interests and then log this information into a centralized contact history database. In this scenario, the customer’s channel of choice also becomes part of the equation where you can interact with them when and how it best suits them—whether in a branch, on the phone, through the web or via mobile device.

Which came first—the chicken or the egg?

July 23, 2010 (comments: 0)

In the case of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Customer Experience Management (CEM) the answer is clear-CEM, or the proverbial chicken. 

CEM is based on the premise that exceeding your customers' service expectations while creating a satisfying experience with each and every interaction is crucial to developing loyal relationships. By its very name, CRM assumes that there is a relationship already in place to manage. Case closed. 

Developing customer relationships is both an art and a science. And without question, it is an ongoing process. It is my belief that CRM strategies and technology aim to build on what you know (or data you can purchase) about a customer, while CEM strategies and systems build on what the customer knows and feels about you.  

Building on the customer's positive perception of your organization and your ability to meet and exceed his/her needs has been the focus of some of the world's most successful retailers. Themes such as "the customer is always right" have led service and sales teams to establish powerful brand loyalty. But I have never heard of a motivational quote such as "we know more about you than you do" leading to a retail bonanza. 

Delivering exceptional service, taking that extra step, will open the door to cross- selling opportunities and position your organization to expand customer product relationships.   

Regardless of the investments you have already made in CRM technology or the plans that you have for developing customer relationships, go back and look closely at how your organization is handling customer interactions at each touch-point. Would you be wowed? And, don't overlook self-service channels because expanding self-service usage offers your organization the greatest opportunity for cost savings.  

As you well know from your own life experience, how you feel about a retailer is a result of how they present themselves to you and how efficiently they handle interactions whether it is face-to-face, over the phone or on the Web.

Making the Business Case for Unifying All Channels Part III: Control Technology Overhead

May 18, 2010 (comments: 0)

For the past 30 years there has been an almost continual shift in the ways that customers interact with their financial institutions-and to a large extent, this has been driven by technology innovation. From online branch systems and ATMs, to telephone and internet banking, the change has been constant and will inevitably continue.                 

Customers have come to expect that their financial institution will provide access to their accounts from any and all channel technologies and not just for inquiries, but real-time transactions too. The competitive nature of the financial services industry necessitates that community institutions meet these expectations in the same ways that large multi-national banks do.  

The problem is that this has driven community institutions to make massive investments in channel technologies, as they have appeared in the market-with little regard for existing channel implementations. Consequently, silos of customer data have been created, disparate technology architectures are not "playing well" together, and system complexity is requiring that institutions add IT staff. So what can be done? 

Establish a single technology architecture that makes technical support and system integration much less challenging. And, the good news is that this doesn't have to be daunting. The technology advances of the past several years make it possible today to create your own company standard (selecting the applications and infrastructure that will be used uniformly across the enterprise-SQL Server, Oracle, Linux, etc.). Therefore, for example, if you are going to standardize on Linux, apply that to application selection as you upgrade existing channel technology or choose a new vendor. 

You can also reduce information silos by establishing "systems of record." Rather than maintaining redundant data in various applications, a single system/application can become the "official" source of certain information. For example, rates can be entered and maintained in one location instead of via multiple files, thereby streamlining processes and eliminating the risk of inconsistency between channel applications. Another good example is using a CIF for customer/member data rather than multiple account files. 

Perhaps the biggest savings opportunity offered by standardizing your channel technology is to reduce the number and variety of technical skills required within your IT organization. Not only do you save by the range of skills, but you make it far more straight forward for the current team to address support and enhancement requests. In a competitive market, having the ability to embrace change and easily apply new technology capabilities to a uniform infrastructure gives you an advantage that can make a big difference to your customers and to your bottom-line.