Virtually all of us would agree on the importance of customer centricity and a robust customer strategy. A well designed customer strategy improves lead generation, acquisition, cross-selling, and retention rates by delivering differentiated experiences consistently across all customer touchpoints.
But there are different opinions as to what customer strategy is. It could be segmentation, customer experience strategy, media strategy, offer strategy, brand communication strategy, or any combination of these. While none of these terms are incorrect, individually they only provide a partial definition.
Merkle defines customer strategy as a “a data-driven approach to maximizing the financial value of customers, by combining a deep understanding of customer needs, behaviors, and value with the ability to engage specific customers in the optimal way at various touchpoints across the entire relationship with those customers.”
During a recent webinar with Dave Nash, Sr. Director, Merkle titled “I’ll Show you Mine if You Show me Yours” we asked attendees whether their organization has a customer strategy, and 70% responded that they do. However, when we put forth our definition of customer strategy, just over half of those who stated they had a customer strategy admitted that what’s in place only somewhat matches our description.
While it is clear that most companies see the value of customer centricity, most are struggling to deploy an actual strategy to get there. Here are the three core components of a customer strategy: insight, platform, and programs.
- Insight: Start with your customer data: segmentation, event stream data, research, and purchase patterns, etc., to derive an understanding of customer needs, behaviors and values. In other words, you will need to collect, aggregate, and analyze interactional, transactional, and behavioral data to generate the insights necessary to personalize experiences. This data is also critical to determining which customer segments will be the priorities for your business.
- Platform: Technology plays an important role in customer strategy. Data management, advanced analytics, and decisioning capabilities enable your business to recognize and engage specific customers in the optimal way. Consider systems that include both outbound channels (email, direct mail, phone, digital media, etc.), and inbound channels such as call center, customer portal, and mobile apps to name a few.
- Programs: Communication and experiences need to be planned across various touchpoints and span the entire relationship. Integration and coordination across channel touchpoints will be critical to delivering an impactful experience. To maximize impact, this approach cannot be isolated to selected interactions, rather it needs to span the customer relationship lifecycle.