There’s a popular bumper sticker that reads “Live in the past, it’s cheaper.” Hopefully, you don’t operate a business that subscribes to this philosophy. Nostalgic references may make aging Baby Boomers wistful, but don’t you dare take away their smart phones and tablets. When it comes right down to it, there aren’t too many of us who wish we could go back to the bad old days. You know, the days when life was easier and your marketing department could run a respectable CRM program by keeping a list of customers along with contact information and notations about what they bought last time they were in the store. These days, “the store” (if is not on eBay or Etsy) is likely to consist of an e-commerce app on your company website, not a brick and mortar money pit. And in “the age of the customer,” businesses need to know a lot more than addresses, phone numbers and what they purchased last time they visited your digital home. Indeed, customers expect you to have a “relationship” with them. If you expect them to care about pulling out their credit cards on your site rather than Google fishing for better deals, you need to care about their preferences, their disposable income, what days and times they prefer to shop, what devices they use, which items they clicked on and which ones they put in their shopping cart and then took out again. Assuming you succeed in collecting all the data you need about your site visitors, what will you do with it? Do you have the technology to individualize the customer experience so that your customers believe that you truly understand them? Businesses seeking the holy grail of customer loyalty will not achieve their goals by offering their regulars a cookie cutter experience. The solution to this challenge is found in software apps that are flexible enough to combine web technology with a deep appreciation for the nuances of CRM. Consider this: Your tech savvy “always on” customers are likely to use a variety of devices, from laptops to smart phones to tablets. You want your GUI to look good, your pages to load quickly and your UX to be consistent regardless of the size of the screen a customer happens to be using at the moment. What about mobile and social media? Should you send your customer a text, a friend request on Facebook or a Snapchat? You need to get this answer right. After all, potential customers are likely to be influenced by social media at some point in their shopping experience. Oh, and even if you know what your customers like, how do you personalize their experiences on your site, particularly if you don’t know how to code CSS? Technology such as Sitecore Marketing Platform with Dynamics CRM can make marketing easy by optimizing your site’s SEO while allowing you to change the text and graphics that display for a web page “on the fly” even if you don’t code. Like any relationship, the one you have with your customers can’t be all one-way. In addition to learning about how your customers prefer to communicate, businesses must pay attention to customer feedback. Dropping a comment card in a box seems like a quaint relic when customers are far more likely to leave comments on your blog, on a Facebook post or by means of a tweet. Your don’t have to read your customers’ minds; they are all too eager to express their opinions and let you know in no uncertain terms what they do and do not like about your products and customer service. But this requires cultivating an old school skill: Being a good listener. And that’s something that no technology can replace.
Author Lisa Carolan
EX Squared, VP of Operations
Lisa Carolan has over 20 years’ experience in IT consulting. For EX Squared she has managed high profile projects for Bank of America, Network Communications Inc., Lennar Homes, TeleDynamics, TaylorMorrison and many more.