The cost–both time and money–to engage customers continues to rise. CMOs must take advantage of the variety of data at hand by creating strategies focused on customer relationship management (CRM). Doing so will enable their businesses to provide more customer lifetime value (CLV) than ever before.
In fact, marketers are missing opportunities because they’re not incorporating real-time flow into models and applications. Is your CRM system still in the '90s? Still in the '00s?
For your CRM to be updated for this generation, it must combine CLV and big data. Having a CRM program without CLV for your business is like being in the middle of a roadtrip with an unclear vision of where you’re going. You have a database. You have direct marketers crafting clever communications. You see some decent lift and ROI from your activities–you are getting somewhere. While you are encouraging more acquisition purchases or a form of regular repeat purchase, you are likely not developing loyalty that gives you competitive advantage or sustainable brand value.
With loyalty and CLV, the “softer,” emotional elements of the “R” in CRM count now more than ever. The feelings drive committed behaviors that manifest as a longer term, higher revenue stream both individually and as a social influence on others. In different stages of a customer’s life cycle with you, they have different needs or different triggers. To take best advantage, we must be able to listen and respond dynamically.
You can build a more social and emotional bond with your customers by using capabilities that have only recently become available in the domain of real-time big data applications. These tools facilitate customer feelings of needs awareness, responsiveness, “fit,” and how much customers can trust you to value them and support who they are. You will stand out from your competitors. You will build systems that are hard to replicate without planning and investment, and you will be further down the learning curve and innovating when others are playing catch up.
Several key investments will drive this process:
1. Organizational investment: Strategic positioning of an analytics team that combines marketing analytics, insights, and big data (such as social media and digital). This means they need a clear C-Level mandate and support.
2. Systems investment: Investment in systems to collect and manage structured and unstructured data together to provide both individual and aggregate views of internal and external behaviors, attitudes, and feelings. Build toward a centralized data resource.
3. Staff capability and capacity investment: Ramp up staffing of your analytics team. Because of the state of the market, this will likely require partnering with services organizations to augment and jump-start your teams–and to act as thought partners in a dynamically developing situation.
4. Application investment: Though mentioned fourth in this list, applications are what drive value and create the business case for all of the prior investment areas. A vision and plan for specific applications will motivate the organizational investment, scope the systems investment, and dictate the capabilities and capacity needed in staffing.
Real-time CRM applications share the same basic characteristics. They provide a more individualized, responsive, and motivating set of interactions that will create a stronger social, emotional, and transactional bond with your customers. Take advantage of these capabilities in your CRM program:
• Identify customers at touch points either as they arrive or in near anticipation.
• Classify customers at touch points either using preidentified classes or evolving ones.
• Serve up individual messages to customers at touch points, such as customized ads, different phone scripts, unique Web page formats, and content or different types of store service.
• Craft or associate the correct promotion and depth of value for a specific customer at a specific touch point opportunity.
• Optimize the overall communications plan by customer. Adjust the cadence and channel mix.
• Create recommendations for customer or for messages to be provided to customers. These show investment into the relationship, and you can even facilitate their value more by adding in significant social components.
• Interact on mobile using information exchange via apps the customer has loaded on their phones. Take advantage of social-local-mobile (SoLoMo).
• Celebrate milestones and provide a structure of status that incorporates elements of real-time interaction and recognition.
• Use customized interactions and social capabilities to create rites of initiation or passage to create an emotional set of bonding experiences.
• Encourage and socialize status, achievements, or commitments with elements of gamification.
Big data and the applications it enables transform classic CRM into a much more powerful process for magnifying CLV through a fuller, more informed, more proximate ability to interact with your current, future, and past customers. The Internet transformed commerce. Big data is transforming CRM.