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A few weeks ago, I hosted a panel about digital-first strategies at our annual SmartVideo Summit with marketing executives from Cox Communications and Citibank. As I opened the session sharing a few statistics about the connected nature of consumers, I looked out at the audience. Not one person was fazed. Brands and marketers now recognize consumers’ digital nature as a given, and the starting point of the conversation has shifted to how brands can change their philosophies to better engage with digital customers.
Take a look at a clip from the session:
Mark Lawson, vice president of digital marketing and sales at Cox Communications, joined me on the panel and spoke about the importance of providing a complete user experience as customers move across channels, from the web to the call center to a retail store and so on. Though many transactions today begin online – in fact, Forrester Research predicts that by 2017, 60 percent of all retail transactions will involve an online interaction – many customers ultimately end up speaking to a representative in the call center or visit a retail store.
The real customer experience opportunity for brands, according to Mark, is the ability to add value for the customer at each interaction throughout the customer journey, no matter the channel.
As brands prioritize digital experiences, they’re putting just as much focus on getting control of their customer data. Data can provide full visibility into the preferences and behaviors of customers across every interaction they have with the brand. Rebecca Wooters, head of customer engagement at Citi Cards, emphasized the difference between data and relevant data in shaping a positive experience for the customer.
For instance, she noted that there are many benefits and things Citi can do for its customers, but not all of those things are important to the customer. Providing a laundry list of features and capabilities to customers isn’t always beneficial and it’s up to the brand to determine how to use relevant data to engage customers in a meaningful way.
Though brands have begun to digitize their customer journeys, they recognize that this alone does not dictate how their customers access their digital channels and touch points. In many cases, consumers aren’t using the digital tools brands make available in the way that the brands intend. Customers need to understand how to use and take advantage of new digital tools and portals. Brands want to drive more customer engagement in the digital realm with a digital-first strategy, but doing so requires education and a behavior change among consumers.
We’re seeing more brands now that understand the power of personalized storytelling in proactively influencing consumer behaviors. We’re working with some of our customers to help them adopt a strategic approach to using transactional engagement where each customer transaction triggers an opportunity to deliver a personalized video designed to teach customers to use digital channels in the future and drive a deeper relationship with customers.
The key is to do this in a way that is beneficial for the customer, while also providing value for the brand. As Rebecca noted, the most important thing is to always do what is right for customer and focus on building a long-term relationship.