The 4 Elements of Real-Time Customer Engagement

3. Decision. The detection and data in steps one and two lead to a natural crux—the decision. During this step, customer engagement professionals expect to have a grasp on the customer’s unique circumstances and needs to then take the next-best-action in that moment. Do their systems enable an analytics foundation that provides guidance based on background, context, and data? Do they have the information they need to accurately weigh the business interests and make the move most likely to satisfy the customer?

The central challenge for every business is that it is equally possible to make bad decisions in real time as it is to make good ones. And many so-called real-time systems force the business to rely upon analytic conclusions that were made before the interaction occurred, without considering their most recent web clicks or real-time location.

To overcome this issue, this decision must be made in its entirety in real time. This means not just running analytics nightly or weekly and uploading their conclusions, but rather running the analytic models from the ground up, so that the decision can be made that based on customer lifetime value (CLV) and the likelihood of an adverse event, some intervention should be taken.

4. Delivery. Each of the first three Ds brings essential value to the customer engagement process, but left without the final step, they ultimately provide only incremental value. The point of inflection arrives with the final D—delivery. The longer customer engagement professionals delay this step, the stronger the real-time rift becomes.

Detection, data, and decision form the basis of a CX strategy, whereas delivery takes the final step—action. Consider if, in all cases, your business is able to deliver the right interaction within the customer’s preferred channel in that instant, whether reactively and proactively. Or is there latency?

The timing of delivery depends on the foundational elements that preceded it, and the greatest opportunity for businesses is putting all 4 Ds together within an early time window. Bandwidth plays a big role in accomplishing each of these steps quickly, demanding that businesses have the right analytics and decisioning systems in place to make the process seamless for CX professionals. The outreach may happen via a quick and cost-effective text message for a customer with a lower CLV (customer lifetime value), or via an outbound phone call with a top service agent for a customer with a high CLV.

Sometimes the optimal speed may be no velocity at all. During this delivery phase, providing the best customer experiences can come from not only understanding what to do, but also what not to do. If the organization has effectively undergone the process of examining real-time context during the data phase, they should know when a moment is not right for a given interaction. Real-time speed can backfire if the brand acts reflexively without taking into account empathy and situation. Sometimes, the best moves are the ones that businesses do not make.

Achieving Real-Time Reflex and Responsiveness

The window for a customer’s moment of need is open for only so long, and brands need to accelerate through the four Ds before the window closes. Customers have the power to be judicious and discriminating in deciding which brands to work with or buy from. One instance of exceptional service can win a lifelong customer, whereas one example of delayed or irrelevant engagement can sever ties with the customer—and anyone else he or she shares the interaction with.

The stakes are incredibly high, and the brands willing and able to implement real-time strategies with detection, data, decision, and delivery at their core will position themselves well for a lifetime of real-time relevance.

Jeff Nicholson is vice president, CRM product marketing at Pegasystems, where he leads the company’s CRM market vision and strategy. He is a frequent presenter for industry conferences and specializes in digital marketing, customer engagement, customer journey, customer loyalty, real-time marketing, Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). Jeff has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, previously holding marketing and product positions at Kitewheel, Pitney Bowes Software, Portrait Software, and Kronos.

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