Marketing has evolved. Users require content personalized to their unique interests and requirements and not just information, but dialog.. One-way communications and one-size-fits all messaging are no longer effective. In this era of Customer Experience (CX), services like Doxee Pvideo® make it possible to engage with customers and build a new business-user relationship in a unique way.
The origin of CCM and Customer Experience
No one really knows when the field of Customer Communications Management (CCM) began. The concept of communicating with customers goes back to the early days when we sold and bartered for goods and services. In this post chronicling advancements in customer service (which drives the need for communications), the milestone appears to be the rise of the Industrial Age (1760 to 1820), when the scale of customer orders and interactions skyrocketed.
Of course, it was not until the introduction of computers to manage taxes, payroll and overall communications that the concept of Customer Communications “Management” was born. Without examining the exact timeline, it is commonly agreed that the management of customer communications, including creation, production, and management of large volumes of personalized invoices, statements, invoices, payroll checks, HR documents, insurance forms, etc. gave rise to the concept of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), which itself grew exponentially with the start of Salesforce.com in the late 1990s. But what about CX or the concept of Customer Experience? How, if at all, has it evolved from CCM? We will explore that in this post and make a case for seeing CX as a very different animal from past species.
Instead of continuing a trek through history, let us examine the two significant developments that changed the marketing landscape and continue to shape our marketing strategies. They are the essence of the “customer experience” value proposition.
- True, two-way customer communications. Sometimes referred to as conversational communications, we referenced this neologism in a previous Doxee post.
- Self-empowerment of the consumer. Namely “our” power to decide what to read, view, and experience, when and how we want. And more importantly, our decision as to how and when to respond to an offer.
Let’s delve further into each of these to see the clear reasons why these Customer Experience dynamics have not evolved from CCM, but rather are a radical departure from this approach.
Is CCM still an effective approach?
Traditional CCM focuses on print and email communications. But the data from PrintWeek on print as a communication medium indicates that print is no longer the most effective approach to reaching your target audience. The figures covering the six-month period to the end of 2017 showed that overall print circulation across the entire market fell by 5%.
There were large declines for international news and current affairs titles, which fell by 15% year-on-year. News and current affairs titles relating to business and finances dropped by 6% while science-related titles fell by 5%.
As for email, it is nowhere near as “cool” as it once was; in fact, its use is declining among marketers. This is ironic as it is clearly marketers using incorrect data—resulting in marketing messages being identified as spam—who are responsible for this decline. As well-stated in a recent post on email’s slow demise, “Email’s engagement is declining because marketers have been riding it like they stole it.” The data is disconcerting:
- 49% percent of marketers admit to not using data to target their emails
- 65% of all traffic is spam according to Cisco
- Only 22 % of consumers have confidence in emails from brands
- 11% decline in CTR – eMarketer
- 17% decline in click-to-open – eMarketer
- 57% of people who abandoned email addresses cited “too many messages” – Social Media Week
- Usage has plummeted 18 % among 25-35-year olds, who recently surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation. Among teens, it’s down a whopping 60 %. (See this article for more on this trend.)
The fact is, traditional CCM channels – print and email – are in decline. The question is why? One reason is that you cannot easily respond to them. Even if you want to. Print is very much a one-way media. You can direct your message to a specific audience through database profiling and using personalized text and images. But once the communication is received, recipients need to call or email in order to respond. If there is a web URL, now you have to type it into your browser exactly. Most recipients have neither the patience nor time to take these additional steps. As for email, if it does make it through the spam filter and is opened, which today is certainly not guaranteed, the content needs to be read and again responded to via call or email. If it contains a URL, the recipient may or may not click on it depending on our interest. Nothing here is assured. More importantly, the reason for the lack of response cannot be ascertained.
CX approach to communication
So how is the concept of Customer Experience different from this approach? The key is that one of the foundations of CX is immediate two-way communication with the consumer. As explained here, instead of “broadcasting,” it is intended to “engage” the consumer. It is intended to exude humanness, showing that a company cares about its customer.
As explained in this Marketing Dive blog, the sea change in marketing is where everything is becoming a two-way dialogue in real time–and social is one of the driving forces behind this. Sanjay Dholakia, CMO of Marketo, has predicted that by 2020, marketing leaders will see social as the “top way to engage with their audiences. Your communications and actions must build off of all of the other ways that the customer is raising a hand to engage,” says Dholakia.
The newest marketing strategies incorporate immediate, two-way response mechanisms. For example, the additition of “chat” features on websites has had a strong effect on sales in e-commerce. The many advantages are profiled in this Comm100 blog and include the following: reduced expenses (17-30% cheaper than a phone call); increased sales (live chat customers are three times more likely to make purchases versus those who don’t.); improved customer service and loyalty (highest customer satisfaction levels compared to email and traditional phone support); discovering customer pain points (with live chat, administrators and supervisors have access to all chat histories to discover the problems or needs of their customers and find ways to address and resolve them; fast problem resolution (agents can link visitors to the appropriate content directly; and customer convenience (live chat was the preferred method of communication for online shoppers when compared to other communication methods).
In another example of two-way communication media, the emergence of personalized video is starting to take notice by marketers. One of the greatest advantages of this media is that as the viewer watches the movie directed specifically to them with relevant content, there are opportunities for them to immediately respond by clicking links to more information either within the movie or via outside websites. Best of all, it is all trackable and measurable. Learn more about it here.
Dholakia, has said, ‘‘If you’re still thinking of the CMO as chief megaphone officer, then you’re stuck in the ’90s. Dholakia goes on to say that from a strategic standpoint the customer experience must be at the core of the entire marketing program. Social media, for example, is a channel that many marketers view as a way to push messages at people rather than engage in two-way conversations, which should be the approach they take. “By 2020, marketing leaders see social as the top way to engage with their audiences. It highlights the idea that instead of trying to create social programs, marketers will be trying to make all programs social,” he said, adding, “Your communications and actions must build off of all of the other ways that the customer is raising a hand to engage.”
The second force that has drove the emergence of the customer experience is that “you” now have to the power to decide what to watch, when to watch it, what device to view it on, and how to respond to it. It is truly the age of “self-empowerment of the consumer.” A good definition comes from John Tschohl, author of Empowerment: A Way of Life, as quoted in this Oracle post. He defines empowerment as giving users the authority to “make important decisions” to satisfy their own internal needs and timelines. “Empowerment is a guaranteed investment,” he says. “When you empower your users to make decisions quickly, the results will be amazing: increased user adoption, enhanced customer loyalty, increased sales, decreased attrition, and word-of-mouth advertising that is less expensive and more credible than anything you could buy.”
Self-empowerment and atomic content marketing: the future of CX
At a recent Gartner conference, John Hall provides perspective on customer expectations. “As marketing evolves to become savvier and more intelligent, so will the content it’s creating for audiences. Most audiences and content consumers have grown to expect somewhat more personalized content from the brands they interact with, and that content marketing trend is only going to continue with a move to “atomic content.” By atomic content, he is referring to “atoms” of messaging that are put together as needed in a variety of media to provide the perfect messaging, and experience, to customers. Atomic content is what enables the most impactful, response-generating experience.
Many companies think they can “manipulate” customers to think and behave as they desire–essentially sending a one-way note into the “ether” and hoping the recipient will somehow get it, read it, care about it, and respond to it. In fact, the process for success is very different. It not only involves understanding the customer and setting up a conducive environment for dialogue, but appreciating that they have the power, not you, to decide how to respond to it. It requires a different mindset than either CCM or CRM. It means a commitment to not only capturing data, but understanding it, interpreting it, and using it to drive the perfect content across all media.
CCM is not dead by a long shot. And companies are still using these management systems to drive highly personalized, effective communications. Today, the concept of CX is leading marketers on their quest for engaging with customers, deepening their relationship with them, and exacting loyalty from them. It may have been born from CCM and CRM, but Customer Experience is definitely a new species. Marketers must embrace it, fully comprehending the best way to initiate and continue two-way customer communications, and respect the self-empowerment that our media choices have enabled.
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