Companies know there is no shortage of ways to lose customers. Still, when a study shows that nearly half of respondents switched one of their main services (banking, mobile, internet, satellite/cable) in 2014*, orgs of all types would do well to take notice. The causes behind customers jumping ship identified in the new IBM/Econsultancy report, “The Consumer Conversation,” are not hard to guess at: competition with better offerings, pricing, and of course, customer experience. Of the 30 percent of respondents who said they switched due to the company failing them in some way, 51 percent of them said it was a failure in experience. These customer experience gaffes—customer service, in-store service, site/app quality, loyalty programs—are controllable, but perhaps none more so than failures in communication.
Companies might not understand consumers as well as they think they do. While 81 percent of consumer brands claim to have a holistic view of their customers, only 37 percent of those customers say their favorite retailer understands them; when it comes to the average retailer, that figure drops to 22 percent. When it comes to communications, however, companies are well aware of their shortcomings. Less than half—just 47 percent—of brands believe they are delivering relevant communications. Only 34 percent claim to know when customers want to hear from them. Knowing which channels to communicate with consumers on and how often are problem areas as well.
Fortunately for companies and consumers alike, it’s getting easier to leverage data and analytics to gain the holistic view of customers needed for effective and timely communications. “Effective,” however, does not just mean “relevant.” Communications must be both relevant and valuable to be effective. It’s easy to imagine a company drowning a customer in communications—all of those communications might be relevant, but they can’t all be valuable. Valuable also means communicating with the consumer on their preferred channel. Again, this is where insights gleaned from data can help, but companies can do much better in this regard simply by asking the consumer which channel they prefer.
Great communication is more art than science. However, in the world of business, it must be based on science in the form of data and analytics. Creative content can be incredibly persuasive and inspiring, but it will fall upon deaf ears and blind eyes if it’s not delivered in to the right person in the right way at the right time.
*All figures are from “The Consumer Conversation,” produced by Econsultancy in partnership with IBM, April 2015.
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