Every customer interaction sparks a data point that brands can learn from.
CMOS, agencies and brand managers are now mapping these insights against the customer journey as a strategy to drive conversions and deepen brand loyalty. Fine tuning the signal-to-noise ratio is the tough part.
Three trends are converging to help brands know what to focus on including: rising value of customer service data, context driving conversions, and the rising importance of customer journey mapping in a channel and device agnostic world.
Call centers get more respect
As a source of brand engagement data that quite literally defines the customer experience, call centers top the list. The speed and efficacy of customer service in most organizations will improve significantly in the next few years powered by more customer-centric algorithms.
The push to a customer-obsessed model is quite real according to Forrester Research and can bring measurable ROI. Insights that improve critical touchpoints benefit the entire organization. 2016 will likely be the year consumer brands start diving a little deeper here.
“In 2016, the gap between customer-obsessed leaders and laggards will widen. Leaders will tackle the hard work of shifting to a customer-obsessed operating model; laggards will aimlessly push forward with flawed digital priorities and disjointed operations. ” – FORRESTER RESEARCH
Customer experiences will be further enhanced as tools like IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor, that uses natural language and understands context, get smarter with each use.
Context drives conversations, conversations drive conversions
Given the rise in content marketing, the time, place and tone in which messaging is delivered is even more critical. Understanding “mobile moments” in context allows for the right content to reach the right person at the right time.
Since the ultimate test of context is conversation – Facebook’s new digital concierge service called M is spot-on for how Millennials want to engage with brands.
Guided by David Marcus, Messenger flew past the 800 million user mark in 2015, adding real time customer service integration for firms like FedEx, Everlane and the USPS. The notion of “conversation as interface” has many brands re-thinking how they engage and serve customers. Messaging platforms like Snapchat and What’sApp will expand their efforts towards brand engagement. Emerging media like Periscope will enter the mix more often in 2016, especially for entertainment and youth brands.
Artifical intelligence offerings like Amy, a digital assistant birthed by impressive NYC startup, X.ai and bot platforms built on messaging apps like Telegram are powered by context seeking algorithims. Mark Zuckerberg has another dog in this fight, he’s racing to build a real world version of Iron Man’s sidekick, Jarvis. The race for human-like engagement across channels is on – so make sure your brand can carry a conversation.
Customer journey mapping becomes foundational for marketing
Customer journey mapping is not new, but when powered by a range of emerging mobile and social data points, the tool is more powerful than ever – especially for brands seeking rapid growth.
The process starts with mapping and optimizing marketing efforts for each phase of the customer journey (i.e. Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Influence). Messaging must then be mapped by channel and synchronized to drive conversions along the path to purchase. A/B testing creative along the customer journey speeds optimization.
In 2016 we expect advertisers to map marketing contexts to an integrated consumer journey so that sales and brand-building content complement rather than compete with each other. – Duncan Southgate, global brand director for Digital at Millward Brown
At each of the four stages, customer journey maps outline actions, motivations, questions and barriers to overcome in the path to purchase. Knowing what prospects are thinking, and targeting creative by stage, drives higher conversions and customer lifetime value.
Insight driven efforts to improve the customer experience will be a growing narrative in 2016. Brands taking the extra step of optimizing their messaging along the customer journey are likely to lead in revenue and innovate ahead of the competition.
–Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital