As a customer, do you know how many business relationships you have? Listing them can be an interesting exercise: The phone company, the supermarket, the doctor, the dentist, the garage, the bank, the gym, the place you buy your lunch... almost everybody can rack up at least 20 of these relationships without thinking much about it, and over 50 is common.
Now consider the fact that many of those businesses have multiple digital touch points - email, SMS, websites, Twitter, blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Multiply your 50 business relationships by five touch points and that's 250 message points competing for your attention. In the resulting clutter and noise, everybody loses - not just the business, but customers too.
Too much information for one day
Customers lose out because we do, in fact, want to hear from those we do business with. That's why we connect on social media and sign up for newsletters. But we're not getting the right information, at the right time, in the right context. The channels businesses currently use to communicate with us are flawed.
The problem is one of context. For most of us, email is mostly about work - or it should be. All too often it's about prioritisation and productivity. In that context, where we're just trying to clear the decks so we can get some work done, that carefully crafted marketing newsletter ticks by without being opened.
What about social media? Again, the context is wrong. A study by the IBM Institute for Business Analysis found that only 23% of users have used social media to interact with brands - and most cite discounts and specials as the reason for that interaction. As consumers we don't want our insurance companies to entertain us and be our friends.
Engaging with the customers
What both businesses and their customers need is a single, dedicated space where they can communicate and engage. As a customer, it benefits me to have one place where I can store all my account details, access up to date phone numbers, send messages and check special offers - when and where it suits me.
Businesses benefit too from a single connection space: They get customers who are willing to hear from them, information they can use to design personalised special offers and the comfort of knowing their customers will call them when the time comes - not search Google and find their competitors instead.
Accessing company news anywhere
As the mobile phone is no doubt the future of customer engagement, mobile apps seem like the best platform for this dedicated connection space. My phone is always with me, and I have no objection in principle to companies using it to communicate with me.
That doesn't mean a mobile app for every company - who wants to download and manage 50 new apps? What is needed is one app to manage all company-client communication. We already have Facebook for managing our personal relationships and LinkedIn for our professional networks - we want Connecto to be the app that links businesses and their customers in the same way.
Lee Hartman is a former banker turned entrepreneur. He is the Founder and CEO of Connecto, a mobile app that enables any business to connect with its customers to enhance loyalty, reduce churn and drive repeat sales.
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