How can companies intercept consumers who are increasingly connected, demanding, and distracted? It starts by changing the way we communicate by adopting a new approach that starts with the customer and not the product. A customer communication management strategy is just what you need.
When we talk about digital transformation we are now talking about a historical and cultural reality that has repercussions on the current way of doing business. Leaving aside the challenges of a unified definition and the different nuances that must be taken into account, an interesting topic and that we discussed in this article, digital transformation refers to a set of changes that are associated with the spread of digital technologies and that have an impact on many aspects of human society.
This means that digital transformation within a company, for example, is not just the adoption of new technologies. Such adoption is defined as digitization and is essential for achieving this transformation, digitization is only one aspect of the transformation. This is illustrated in an article for Forbes by Jason Bloomberg, an expert on disruptive enterprise technology and digital transformation who stresses that the terms digital transformation and digitization do not mean the same thing. According to Bloomberg, any company can undertake digitization projects (for example, by automating internal processes or planning specific training for human resources), while a real digital transformation project requires a radical change in business strategy that impacts the entire organization.
Obviously, digital transformation is also made of digitization projects, but such projects are not enough to digitally transform the organization. Instead, these require a real change of mentality, which changes the core of the company itself. In his words: “digitization and digitalization are essentially about technology, but digital transformation is not. Digital transformation is about the customer.”
The first digital transformation is that of customers
As data on the access and use of online content tell us, today’s customers are very different from those of the past thanks to the spread of the internet and digital technologies.
According to the annual report published by We Are Social and Hootsuite, 9 out of 10 Italians are online, spending more than 6 hours a day, every day connected and mainly watching video content, compared to 3 hours a day of television use. The report is also relevant because it shows a significant change in the type of technologies most in use around the world: not only are users more connected, they are also more mobile. In fact, mobile has become very relevant. Consider that, in Italy alone, there are almost 86 million mobile connections, exploited for various uses. It is no coincidence that many companies, at least those with a strong leadership role in the digital sector, are starting to develop specific products and services specifically for mobile.
A striking example of this is mobile payments, one the main trends for 2019. One prominent example is Libra, the crypto currency created by a consortium led by Facebook, which will allow users to make purchases through the platform, using a digital wallet. It’s not the only case. For some time now, in fact, there has been a push towards mobile, partly driven by credit institutions, which encourage payments through smartphones (rather than cash and cards), using services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. This is not surprising, especially if you consider that in the last 12 months in the number of people who use a digital portfolio has increased by 30%, from 2.46 million to 3.20 million.
Thus, the digital transformation has made the consumer more connected, providing him with new tools to perform routine actions. But that’s not all. The digital world itself has different timeframes than the analog world: everything is faster, more immediate, and simpler. As a result, customers have changed their expectations of the services or products they buy.
- First, with the creation of new touchpoints that were unimaginable before, traditional purchasing channels have been joined by digital channels, opening the door to a multi- or even omnichannel approach.
- Secondly, because the sensitivity of the customers themselves to the company has changed and must be literally at hand, providing a new and mobile-first purchasing experience.
In this sense, many Italians are looking for a more rewarding customer experience, one made of simpler processes, tools that meet their needs, and one or more direct and immediate channels of communication with the company.
The importance of customer communication
While it’s important for online consumers to do research in advance of a purchase, the communication between customers and the company play a key role in the process.
Effective communication allows companies to create strong and lasting ties that help retain customers and, at the same time, to “unblock” the decision to purchase. This is confirmed by the fact that 27% of purchases are generally stimulated by email, SMS, and other push notifications that alert the customer to new products or services. Among other things, effective communication between the company and the consumer, preferably based on the latter’s interests and preferences, always plays a key role in the consumer’s repurchase. In this sense, when Bloomberg says that digital transformation, as a transversal change in business strategy, is all about the customer, it’s exactly the point.
What matters is no longer the product, or the purely functional marketing communication, but the consumer, who expects to be put at the center of everything, from the customer experience to the flow of communication. This is perhaps one of the most disruptive aspects of digital transformation: to win, it’s no longer enough to have a winning product or a cutting-edge organization. All of this helps, of course, but it doesn’t help if you don’t change your approach from product-driven approach to customer-driven.
If it is true that digital tools provide companies with many opportunities to reach potential customers with their content and products, it is also true that the web is crowded with messages and information from competitors directed at users with a very low attention threshold. This means that it is essential to offer them memorable experiences and truly relevant content that can capture the customer’s attention and meet their expectations.
How to focus on your customers: data, CRM and CCM
How can you achieve this result and thus transform your corporate communication into an effective lever for relationship marketing? The first condition is to get to know your users well. In this sense, it is essential for a company to “listen” to the network and analyze the relevant behaviors and conversations of consumers. In a nutshell, we need data analysts, or professionals capable of carrying out a thorough analysis of the data available and make the evidence obtained intelligible to all, so as to determine the best choices and identify the most effective strategies. After all, the better you know your customers, the easier it is to provide them with suitable and personalized content that captures their interest, so as to anticipate their expectations.
On the subject of expectations, the second step that a company must take is to rethink the customer experience offered to ensure that you’re applying the appropriate marketing approach. This is possible by strategically managing your editorial content based on available data, and it also requires having a real customer relationship management plan that you can follow.
The term customer relationship management (CRM) exploits existing technologies to understand and anticipate customer needs and to identify possible consumers who are interested in the products or services offered by the company. In other words, it is the translation of so-called “relational marketing,” an integrated and structured process to manage customers in order to increase their satisfaction and, consequently, their loyalty, also through the personalized offering of products or services.
To implement this strategy, the company must be equipped with specific software that allows it, after an analysis phase, to enter data on the purchasing and consumption behavior of customers in a database, in order to profile them and collect them in clusters. Subsequently, the company must plan the strategic actions to be taken according to the individual customer, for example by offering additional products or services or premium versions of the product or service initially requested.
Finally, the success of the strategy is verified based on established objectives and the results; this will help you understand whether to continue along that path or to change the approach. To complete this, it is also necessary to implement a communication strategy that exploits the dynamics of customer communication management (CCM), which can help improve the creation, delivery, retrieval, and archiving of outbound communications, including those of a commercial nature, which can range from notifications, which can be indicated for new products or for payments. In this sense, the CCM is fundamental because it empowers functional communications to the customer, who sees himself receiving interesting content and relevant to his interests or needs. CCM software makes it possible to deliver perfectly customized marketing content to customers, according to recipient characteristics and based on the relevant phase of the customer journey.
In addition, the most advanced CCM combines perfect targeting of communications with greater communication interactivity. On average, in fact, content capable of engaging the user is more effective (and therefore perceived as more relevant), and the user is not relegated to the role of a simple passive user.
Adopting effective customer communications management allows you to build a real architecture of coordinated and integrated communication around customers, in which all channels work harmoniously, providing a truly complete, uninterrupted shopping experience, using all types of media and output, including, for example, emails, web pages, and even tax documents.
In this sense, therefore, CCM is the structural premise to realize that omni-channel approach, which allows the company to make the most of all the touchpoints (whether digital or analog) and which is a fundamental condition to remain competitive over the long term. In the light of this, CCM is one of the cornerstones on which to build your digital transformation to ensure that your business strategy is truly customer-oriented.
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