Adaptive Marketers Focus on Customers, Not Channels
As marketers, our goal is to influence our customers’ decisions. We know that if we provide engaging and relevant experiences, they will reciprocate with loyalty, which leads to increased lifetime value. We set up defined customer journeys and triggered events to help us automate our ability to deliver the right message at the right time to influence decision making, and hopefully achieve our business objective. Sounds like a plan.
But what happens when a customer deviates from the defined journey?
If they abandon their online cart, but then buy the items in the store instead of online, they most likely will still receive an email three days later reminding them to buy those same items online. Is that the best possible customer experience? If a loyal customer is overdue on their annual account renewal but is displaying strong renewal behavior on their mobile app instead of the web, is emailing them a 20 percent discount code the smartest move?
Illusion of Control
Your customer journeys, by design, end up being a linear attempt to control when and where your customers interact with your brand. Unfortunately, your customers don't always follow the script; they are in control, not you. And with the growing number of channels these days, even they don't know when and how they will interact with you next. This means not if but when they deviate from your prescribed journey, the rest of the journey is invalidated. You will deliver a customer experience that will erode that hard-won loyalty for the remainder of the campaign on any channel, whether controlled by the journey or not.
We fail to adapt to the customers' unpredictable behavior because the focus of journeys is on a controlled, defined path of events and channels rather than on the customer relationship. Even the most complicated journey logic will collapse as soon as the customer interacts with your brand in a way that you could never have anticipated, making it hard for you to achieve your business objectives.
Failing to use and persist the latest state of the customer relationship across all potential touch points will guarantee sending the wrong message sooner or later, proving to your customers that you don't know who they are and therefore do not know how to provide them with the best customer experience. That is a fundamental problem.
Focus on Customers, Not Channels
The time has arrived for the adaptive customer experience, which can be defined as a customer experience that automatically adapts to the unpredictable behavior of your customers and naturally improves every single time a customer interacts with your brand no matter where and when the interaction occurs.
Why now? Because channels are irrelevant.
Since our customers control when and where they interact with us, we need to shift focus from channels to always knowing the latest state of each customer relationship, no matter where and when they interact with us.
By converting our linear customer journeys into dynamic opportunity, we can let the customer control their journey while we make sure we have all their relevant information needed to recognize who they are and how to service them upon every interaction. Every time your customer interacts with your brand, the adaptive customer experience can use both historical and in-the-moment customer relationship information to deliver the right message. It can then dynamically spread the new state of that customer relationship across all potential touch points, in milliseconds.
This shift in focus means that your ecosystem gets updated with the latest state of that customer relationship so that every channel is prepared to leverage this new information, which is critical to delivering the right message when the next interaction occurs. No more annoying "abandoned shopping cart" email reminders when your customer already bought the products. No more unnecessary discounting when your customer was already going to renew. Instead, you are presented with a new opportunity to be one step ahead, maximizing customer lifetime value and increasing your power to influence.
Too often, trying to cope with the explosion of channels has left marketers frozen like deer in the headlights, so fixated on those channels that we fail to see our really valuable, individual customer options. And that's why we are starting to see the rise of the adaptive marketer—creating and building customer relationships on customers' terms, regardless of channel.
Jeff Hassemer is chief strategy officer at Alterian, where marketers gain the power to maximize customer opportunity in milliseconds, allowing brands to stay one step ahead of individual customers with the right message no matter where or when they interact.