Leveraging the Power of Personalized Video

To gain a competitive edge in today's market, businesses need to focus on the overall customer experience. That means seeding, building, and maintaining meaningful, long-term relationships with each individual customer. We need to ditch our obsession with market share and embrace the concept of share-of-customer, based on lifetime value.

Faced with the scourge of customer churn, many companies are asking themselves: "Does our existing CRM system address the key issue of customer retention?" In this essay, we show how companies can justify their huge investments in CRM systems by leveraging the power of personalized video to bridge the gap between existing CRM systems and successful long-term customer engagement.

Filling the Gap

A wealth of customer information is embedded in most CRM systems, but there are many actions that need to be executed and followed up on, such as contacting customers who are flagged as having a high risk of churn or those who have reached a loyalty landmark. These flags often remain buried and ignored within the CRM system. While they can be used to highlight important information when needed, the opportunity to proactively do so at the right time, and in the best way, is often missed.

At the same time, the era of high-speed communication media has produced customers with relatively short attention spans. They expect answers within 30 to 60 seconds. They also fully understand the concept of choice, and if they feel they are not being treated with respect, they walk. As a result, many businesses and call centers focus much of their time on responding to incoming queries or complaints, which is very costly.

Even companies that try to proactively contact their customers often use delivery mechanisms, such as email or text messages, that are either too long and tedious to read or too short and difficult to understand. In large companies, customer communications are typically handled by a number of different departments, such as marketing, sales, billing, customer care, technical support, and loyalty clubs. In the absence of integrated communications, the resulting avalanche of messages targeted at the customer can be haphazard and overwhelming.

Bridging the gap between existing CRM systems and successful long-term customer engagement requires a paradigm shift in the way companies strategically communicate with their customers. What is required is a last-mile delivery mechanism, like personalized video, to help project a perception that someone genuinely cares about the customer. A well-executed personalized video can have a huge impact on every aspect of the customer relationship. When they see that someone took the time to craft a personal movie just for them, customers return again and again to engage with the company.

Personalized Video—What Is It?

Many organizations already send sales videos out to millions of customers, but these are mostly generic ("Hello, valued customer"). True personalized video demands the detailed analysis of every individual customer's situation based upon his or her current status and buying behavior. This allows every customer to receive a segmented, customized, and targeted personal message, either on a regular basis or triggered by a specific event or combination of events. The personalization process takes place on two levels. First, it inserts personal data specific to the particular customer. Second, it selects the alternative segments of video most relevant to this customer.

Personalized video is based on two game-changing developments. The first is the explosion in video content. It's easy to consume, it's fun to watch, and it gives the viewer lots of easy-to-digest information in a short period of time. It can be delivered any time and any place, across all communication channels, including social networks, apps, mobile devices, or TV screens. The second development is the trend toward greater personalization. Google Search, Amazon.com recommendations, and direct marketing emails are examples of tailored messages based on browsing history, buying habits, subscription patterns, and other user-specific data.

Personalized video combines these developments to deliver vital information about a product, service, subscription, price plan, or about billing details in a 30- to 60-second personalized video. The personalized video can be sliced and diced according to a wide array of parameters: billing amount, birth date, purchase history, demographics, and more. The personalized video has the look and feel and tone of voice of a personal interaction, creating a communication experience that is truly friendly.

The personalized video is not an alternative to other customer communication. It is an add-on that serves as a "front-end" fun-to-watch summary that helps the customer quickly grasp the options for further engagement. Personalized videos offer an emotional appeal that emails, letters, flyers, and other forms of communication simply cannot deliver.

The Missing Piece

Personalized videos should be an integral part of any company's anti-churn armory. They can facilitate greater opportunities for cross-selling or upselling, and can help explain complicated issues like price plans or billing cycles. Personalized videos give companies an opportunity to surprise customers with a personal birthday greeting, invitations to special treats, gifts, or deals that can be personalized. They are also the ideal tool for preempting potential problems that might threaten the customer's loyalty, and represent a highly effective customer-facing delivery mechanism designed to work in synergy with existing CRM systems.

For personalized videos to be used most effectively, communications across all the different functions of the business must be integrated. Only then can personalized videos allow companies to deliver all the knowledge and insight embedded in a CRM system, based on a model of genuine engagement, to continuously enhance a trusting relationship with their customers.

Danny Kalish is founder and CTO of idomoo, while Paul Tollman is responsible for the company's global business strategies. idomoo's Video as a Service platform helps client companies integrate personalized video into their business processes using a proprietary Strategic Customer Communications methodology.

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