• June 1, 2016
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

The Best Way to Personalize Customer Interactions

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One of the benefits of a CRM system is the ability to create personalized customer interactions, but how personal should they be? To get to the core of this issue at each organization, there are several other questions that must be answered.

First, does your company have the ability to capture, track, and manage the volume, velocity, and variety of Big Data to effectively monitor customer behaviors and attitudes? (To be clear, I’m not limiting Big Data to social customer data. Big Data is any unstructured data, such as information from social media, telephone support, email, Web chat, and in-store interactions.) The answer to this question is obviously based on the maturity level of each company’s data management strategy.

Also, just because an organization has the ability to capture, analyze, and manage an unending amount of Big Data, should it? Even if your company is great at automating data collection and it has a team of accomplished data sleuths on staff, how much of that data do you actually plan to use? This is naturally dependent on the needs of each organization and its customers.

Additionally, is there such a thing as collecting and using too much data in your messaging? The answer to this question is obviously yes. We’ve stated it before, but it bears repeating: Not all data is valuable. Collecting and managing irrelevant data could be a drain on employees’ time and the company’s resources. Plus, it might encourage organizations to use non-essential information in customer communications that ultimately detracts from the original message. Or, even worse, your organization could use so much personal data during customer interactions that it oversteps acceptable communication boundaries, making interactions appear creepy.

So, if it’s possible to collect too much data—especially irrelevant data—why do it? The simple answer is that it’s not necessary unless, of course, there are regulations that require your organization to capture and save massive amounts of customer data.

Getting back to the original question posed at the beginning of this column, to deliver personalized messaging doesn’t require organizations to collect large volumes of data to learn the most intimate details about their customers. Instead, the most effective personalization initiatives involve communicating with customers who are ready to listen and act on the information.

In our feature story “Beyond the Three V’s of Big Data,” Assistant Editor Sam Del Rowe included a great quote from Meghann York, director of product marketing at Salesforce Marketing Cloud: “Timeliness and relevancy are the foundation of delivering personalized customer experiences in real time.”

This is truly fantastic advice, and it should be one of the guiding principles behind any personalized customer communication effort.

Simply making a relevant offer to someone who is ready to buy a product is far more effective than a spray-and-pray marketing campaign with little to no understanding of customers’ immediate needs.

Moving forward, enterprises will have to be more aware of what their customers want, exactly when they want it. To do this effectively, organizations will have to not only invest in systems that can analyze customers’ past purchasing data but also identify immediate opportunities with a real-time recommendation engine, and future opportunities with predictive analytics.

For many organizations, these solutions are already an imperative. Imagine how much more important they will become as customers become more digitally connected. As this happens, keep timeliness and relevance in mind when crafting personalized customer communications.

Editorial Director David Myron can be reached at dmyron@infotoday.com, or on Twitter @dmyron.

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