The four customer ‘moments of truth’ and how you can power them with real-time optimisation

Knowing your customer inside out is key to an effective ‘next-best-offer’ program. As the industry settles into an era of instant gratification, people are changing every second – knowing your audience in the moment has never been as important.

This article was sponsored by SAS to let readers know about the ‘Maximising Moments of Truth: Creating Meaningful Real-Time Consumer Interaction’ best practice white paper »

In the late 90s, the concept of permission marketing gained popularity, marking a shift away from the interruption marketing (unsolicited marketing communications such as TV advertisements) that was previously the go-to tactic.

Permission marketing advocated that businesses ‘date’ their customers, asking for permission to engage and offer incentives like freebies. This was done with the idea of turning a customer into a ‘friend’. It served as a precursor for the social media strategies businesses use today where customers engage with brands in public forums.

Today, the industry focus centres on real-time customer experience management (CEM) by understanding and improving every customer interaction as it happens. As interactions accumulate, a clearer and deeper understanding of your customers builds. When we talk about permission marketing, CEM and contextual marketing, we’re talking about similar things that are powered by different technologies. The evolution of these strategies is aided by technology, data, analytics, customer intelligence tools and automation.

With these capabilities, companies can offer personalised connections with customers at scale.

The ‘at scale’ aspect is crucial with projections for 6.1 billion smartphone users by 2020 and 28 billion connected devices by 2021. This means the goal now is not just delivering something relevant and personalised, but doing it in real-time, with a tightly defined and compelling offer.

This evolution involves understanding and reacting to customers’ activities as they happen in the present moment – or, their ‘moments of truth’.

It is impossible for businesses to have effective next-best-offer programs without true customer context, understanding answers to the questions: ‘what is their intent?’ and ‘what is the best engagement tactic that will provide value?’

These ‘moments of truth’ can be broken down into four micro moments:

  • ‘I want to know’ moments: customers searching for information such as ‘home remodelling tips’
  • ‘I want to go’ moments: location-based search enhanced with information like wait times or available seats at an event
  • ‘I want to do’ moments: customers looking for how-to guides, and
  • ‘I want to buy’ moments: the best opportunity to shift a customer from consideration to decision.

 

So, let’s discuss why real-time optimisation is so important.

Real-time optimisation can help drive benefits including faster decision making, better customer insights, increasing sales, making more effective use of marketing budgets and enabling agility to react faster to market changes. Unlocking benefits like these requires a mix of activities and organisational disciplines.

Firstly, it involves making optimisation iterative. Next-best-offer programs don’t happen instantaneously. Instead, they come from a phased plan that identifies participants, roles and activities, metrics, technology and capability phases. Most organisations begin with a pilot set of customers, a group of business units or a subset of channels. From there, you measure, refine and then expand.

Secondly, you need to put data in the driver’s seat. A Forbes Insights Study found 14% of respondents said their data is cross-functional and comprises fully synchronised data stores, structured to support the full range of marketing analyses, campaign management and real-time processing.

With the scope and breadth of data increasing dramatically, companies should expect to capture and use customer profile CRM, demographics and/or psychographics, web and mobile and social.

Thirdly, it involves journey mapping – a visual representation of a customer’s interactions. You’ll need to identify the major steps that a defined persona will go through during an interaction. Then define three-to-four granular sub-steps associated with your major steps. The sub-steps are where you can identify influential moments, pain points and signifiers. Getting this right means you can react in real-time.

Finally, invest in automation. The only way to scale customer marketing is through a robust technology platform. There’s some critical capabilities to incorporate into the marketing technology ecosystem including:

  • Marketing automation to develop campaigns and targeted offers,
  • marketing optimisation to rapidly handle significant amounts of data and complex calculations, and
  • real-time decision making and event detection to deliver the highest-priority results to multiple channels on demand.

This all represents the continuation of permission marketing.

We’re seeing the enhancement of the trend by exploding digital adoption rates; ever-increasing types of experience and interaction data; sophisticated real-time communications; decision-making and offer-delivery technologies.

With all this change taking place, the question then becomes, ‘Is your company ready to embrace this new trend?’

 

To gain a better understanding of how high performing businesses are creating meaningful real-time customer interactions, download your complimentary copy of ‘Maximising Moments of Truth: Creating Meaningful Real-Time Customer Interaction’

 

 

 

 

Image copyright: msgrafixx / 123RF Stock Photo