Communication between companies and their customers or potential customers in this electronic age has become a critical factor in the overall “customer experience”.
“It is no longer just about the experience customers have with the products, services and people within an organisation,” says Mia Papanicolaou, head of eMarketing at electronic messaging specialist Striata SA. “The manner in which the organisation communicates with current and potential customers has become a critical component of the overall customer experience.”
Good communication can provide the competitive edge that clinches the deal or sale but Papanicolaou warns that diligent customer profiling is essential for success.
“It is important to profile the existing customer data and then customise or target the communications accordingly. Building a database is a good start, but it's not just about putting a list of customers into a spreadsheet and sending out a mail.”
Papanicolaou cautions that capturing the correct data is important and requires thought and planning. Marketers should ask only for information that they are going to use, consider ways in which they can enhance the data they already have, and how each question is best phrased.
A typical example could be: Are they interested in reading about cars or driving them? The way the customer answers could provide very useful insight into what type of communication would be most valuable.
Other important points to consider include:
Data ages so don't ask for a customers' age bracket. Rather ask for birth date or ID number, if it can be justified.
Answer validation is always important so build it into the profiling questionnaire.
When writing the validation code, marketers should see themselves as respondents and consider all of the different ways that they could enter the data - or not enter it.
It is critical is to start at the end first by deciding what is required from the data and subsequent reports and then design the questionnaire to achieve that objective.
Consider capturing the data at any and every point of interaction, so take note of the data collected from responses to invitations, special offers or conversations with sales staff, and enhance the data with the new information.
Papanicolaou stresses that once the list is complete, marketers should decide what they want to say and what goals will be achieved and then match the message back to the appropriate customer segment.
“This results in customers receiving communications that are relevant to them, instead of all the marketing messages that are relevant to the marketer.”
Obtaining the correct data is a lengthy process and should be tackled a step at a time. Marketers cannot be all things to all people and they need to start somewhere. As Papanicolaou says, there's no time like the present to start profiling data and initiate targeted and customised communications.
Striata is passionate about reducing the challenges and costs associated with traditional communication. We understand the power and efficiency of electronic communication, from marketing and operational messages, to the delivery of confidential documents securely by email. Striata specialises in the secure delivery and payment of bills, statements, payslips, invoices and all other confidential documents, via encrypted email, and in maximising the adoption of electronic solutions.
Striata has been a provider of software and services in the electronic messaging arena since 1999 and has offices in New York, London, Sydney and Johannesburg. Visit www.striata.com for more information.