Customer Data: Making The Most Out Of It

In this digital era where most business decisions are driven by customers, it’s more important than ever to know your customers on a deeper level – by understanding their experiences, behavior, and purchase needs. In that light, customer data is becoming a valuable asset for every business even as companies strive to tap into critical behavioral insights that can help them build strong customer relationships. 

So ask yourself, do you have the data required to understand your customers’ experiences and behavioral patterns? Can you personalize your interactions using that data?

The amount of customer data generated every day can be so overwhelming that you may not know where to start. Nevertheless, you must come up with an effective plan to organize and analyze this data so that you don’t miss out on important insights and trends. Here are essential tips that can help you create customer data strategies to gain insight from customer interactions and consequently get a competitive advantage.

Go Big With Your Customer Data Strategy

It’s common to focus on short-term insights instead of planning a long-term data analytics strategy. It’s essential to know that you might not be able to learn your customers’ purchase trends and behavioral patterns in a single interaction. It takes time to develop meaningful information from customer interactions.

Most organizations capture data in various forms, ranging from individual data elements like contact information, to macro level information like trends in customer inquiries. Analyze the data you are capturing and prioritize what’s important to your organization’s goals.  

Analyzing business intelligence generated from your customer interactions is one way to gather input to your long-term data strategy. Understanding changes in behavior, such as an uptick in questions about a certain product, can help you understand your customer needs and desires. Or, tracking service levels by communication channel might help you understand where customers are feeling the most pain. Over time, you can use this information to come up with an engagement strategy that meets the overall needs of your customers. 

Prioritize Quality

Do you know which customer data is most important to your strategy? While most people strive to gather as much information as possible about their customers, depending on your data analytics goals, you might not need everything you’ve collected. For this reason, it’s important to identify the needs of your customers and your business objectives to ensure collected data adds value to your business. 

For example, if your customer data analytics strategy is meant to give you insights for a promotional campaign, you’ll want to gather metrics on product sales by product line. But, you’ll also need data at the customer level, so you can target your campaign to the right customer segment.

What are customers saying about the product in online reviews? Are they looking forward to new products in the same product line? Do you have a hot product within certain customer segments? While things like a customer’s location and preferred channel of communication are important data, getting into the details is very important if you want to get the most out of your customer data analytics strategy. 

Know the Rules Governing Customer Data

Are you familiar with the rules that govern customer data? While your business benefits by leveraging customer data, any form of data violation may turn things upside down. In almost every country, there are data privacy laws in place to regulate how customer information is collected, how data subjects are informed, and the extent of control they have over the data once it’s transferred.

As an entity, failing to follow applicable data policies might lead to heavy fines, expensive lawsuits, or prohibition of your site’s use in some jurisdictions. Get to know the rules both within your borders and internationally so that you know how to leverage customer data in a way that’s both useful and legal.

In some cases, you must get the consent of a customer before using or sharing their data. Also, it’s important to assure your customers that their data is safe and well-protected so they can share their information freely and with confidence in your ability to protect it.

Your support center is a great way to give customers and prospects this confidence. Data they provide, such as product preferences or contact information, should be available for them to review, update, or remove within a customer engagement center. This not only benefits them by giving them control, it improves the quality of the underlying data because they can update it proactively. 

Centralize Your Customer Data

When it comes to data analytics, centralization is important. Your support team, sales agents, and marketing personnel should use the same data for brand consistency and a unified support experience. As customers interact with your brands through different channels, all the data should be universally accessible.

One way of achieving this is by integrating an omnichannel support platform in your website. With that, you can keep all your customer data in a single platform where everyone can access at any time. For instance, an omnichannel support platform like iService provides a single view of all your customer interactions. Whether it’s a customer email, live chat, or form submission, your support team and sales agents need to access this data in a single view of the customer’s interaction history. 

Focus On Customer Benefits

When you collect customer data, the first thing that often comes to mind is how you can use this information to improve your business. However, don’t overlook the value to the customer themselves. To encourage your customer to help you build your knowledge about them, it’s important that they understand the value they receive in return.

A common strategy for gathering data is offering a financial incentive to provide information. But in many cases, your customer will receive a better service experience when they collaborate with you. Educating them on the benefits of providing data, like specifying a preferred product or subscribing to a mailing list, can often yield a better return than offering a short-term reward, like a coupon.

The success of your business depends on customer satisfaction, so it’s important to focus on benefiting the customers when collecting data. From the data analytics insights you get, you can come up with better interaction strategies to improve your customer experience. Find out how you can use the data obtained to build meaningful relationships with your customers instead of focusing on the company’s exclusive benefits. Remember, when your customers are happy they’ll want to do business with you again and again.

Are you making the most out of your customer data? If yes, kudos for that. However, there’s always room for improvement. So, start leveraging these strategies to take the quality of your customer data to a new level.

Understanding Customer Touch Points and Their Impact

Whether you run a small business or a mega enterprise, understanding the individual transactions through which customers as well as prospects interact with your brand is an essential part of your customer experience strategy. You want to ensure customers are happy with every interaction whenever they connect with your customer service, website, sales staff, or any kind of marketing content. Since a customer’s journey entails several things that happen before, during, and after their experience with your brand, connecting these dots along their journey will help you improve your performance. 

That said, where do you start? 

First and foremost, you need to understand what customer touch points really are before you delve deep into how they can impact your business. Let’s take a look.

What are customer touch points?

Customer touch points are simply defined as the points of interaction between a company and its customers across three main phases of a customer’s lifecycle – from initial awareness through post-purchase support. The touch points include the device being used, the channel where interactions occur (social media pages, live chat, email, phone, etc.), and the specific type of service requested and completed. These points of interaction have a great impact on how customers perceive your brand. Therefore, identifying your customer touchpoints is the very first step in creating a journey map that will help you manage their expectations effectively.

What are the key customer touch points for a business?

Customers interact with your brand at different points along their journey. However, key points of interaction along the customer journey map can be grouped into five phases, depending on when they get in touch with your brand: 

  • Awareness 
  • Discovery
  • Pre-purchase bonding
  • Purchase
  • Post-purchase support

This is just a summary of what a typical customer journey might look like. The phases might be different for every business depending on the type of offering. For instance, if you’re in the hotel industry you might want to expand the list to factor in key elements such as check-in, use of facility, check-out, and departure. 

It’s important to note that all these phases can either have a positive or negative impact on your interactions. For instance, if you fail to meet your customers’ expectations at any given point of their interaction with your brand, it turns out to be a negative experience that works against the success of your business. With that in mind, you’ll always endeavor to identify areas that need improvement and consequently improve your customers’ satisfaction.

Let’s review the different phases below:

  • Awareness

Customers get to know you when they interact with you across different channels, for example your social media pages. With a well-structured brand awareness strategy you should be able to build meaningful relationships with your customers during this phase. They might get in touch with your brand through a social media post or an ad campaign that redirects them to your site where they’ll find the information they’re looking for. 

  • Discovery 

At this point, customers are aware of your brand and are looking for information about your product or service. They might want to read customers reviews to find out what others are saying about your product or browse through your website to learn more about your brand. If they’re struggling to get the information because your website is slow to load, that would be a point of friction. If you don’t provide a method for easily finding or requesting information, that could be another point of friction.

  • Pre-purchase bonding

During this phase a customer wants to communicate with your brand before making a purchase. They can either contact your support team for help or request a demo to understand how a product works before making a decision. Here, a negative experience would be failing to respond to a customer’s query on time or trying to push them to make a purchase without the information they need. Your agents should be on standby to help the customers promptly whether it’s through email support or live chat support.

  • Purchase

What’s your check-out process like? Must customers sign in to check out, or is there an option to check out as a guest? At this point, a customer wants to complete their purchase promptly and you should make it possible for them. If they have to go through many steps like signing up to check out, they’re most likely going to give up on the way. 

Do you required them to enter more details than you really need on your contact forms? Research has shown that as you add more fields required to submit a contact form, the level of conversion drops dramatically.

  • Post-purchase support

Anytime someone buys your product, you want them to turn into repeat customer. That’s where post-purchase follow up and support comes into play. Did they find your product faulty? You should be there to answer their questions and offer assistance as fast as possible. You might also want to suggest other products they might be interested in based on their purchase history to encourage them to interact with your brand. 

How can you improve your customer touch points?

As you  keep track of your customer journey, it’s essential to analyze the performance of each touch point and identify areas for improvement. You can achieve this through the following ways:

  • Identify the needs of your customers

Customers are unique in their own ways and would like an experience tailored to their various needs. It’s up to you to identify the different types of personas you’ll come across and the kind of help they might need. What products are they looking for? Do they want quick support through live chat? What questions do they have? As you develop a customer interaction strategy for your business, ensure you address these questions to make every point of the journey hassle-free. For some business models, live chat might be prohibitively expensive. If you are selling high dollar items on the other hand, you might be willing to invest in real-time support to help move them through the purchase process.

  • Leverage self-help

Often, customers prefer finding solutions to their problems without necessarily interacting with your agents. Reading a knowledge base article that answers their questions can be more efficient than submitting a ticket and then waiting for a response. Therefore, it’s essential to enrich your support website with knowledge base content that’s useful to your customers. 

  • Ask for feedback

Don’t wait until a customer publishes a negative review about your product so that you reach out to them. Instead, let them tell you about their experience with your brand during the journey to address the issues early. You can embed a link to the feedback form in your response email to ask them about their experience with your support team and any suggestions they have to make the experience better.

How an omnichannel support platform like iService helps to improve customer touch points

More than 90% of your customers use multiple channels to interact with your business, even when it involves making a single purchase decision. They still expect consistent interaction across all these channels as they assume you already know what they need the moment they get in touch with you. By adopting an omnichannel support approach, your business can interact with customers through their preferred channel without interrupting the flow of communication. iService allows you to store your customer conversations in a single integrated history so that your support team always has context for the next interaction. Whether a customer engages with your business via email, live chat, or form submission, they’ll always get a uniform experience.

Every time a customer interacts with your brand along their journey determines how they perceive your brand. Therefore, knowing your customer touch points and taking the necessary steps to improve your customer satisfaction is key. 

Email Conversion: Why You’re Spending More But Getting Little in Return

A successful email marketing campaign converts your email audience into customers. But how many times do you send volumes of emails yet only get a handful of customers? Probably uncountable. Almost everyone using email marketing to reach their target audience can relate to this. While it’s possible to maintain high open rates, generating leads from your email marketing campaign requires a lot of effort. Even then, since the return only happens if recipients complete your desired call to action (CTA), you need good email conversion rate.

So why is your email CTA conversion to open rate low, yet you’re targeting the right people and getting the best in class content out there?

Let’s see.

Personalization might be the problem

Personalization means a lot to users. Addressing a person by name is far more appealing than using generic subject content. You can also offer discounts on a product the user was looking for just to show that the email was specifically meant for them. When a customer feels like the email they’re receiving is generic, they lose interest. So give them that unique experience they’re looking for. Build your customer knowledge and leverage it within your email campaigns.

You’re not interacting with your audience

Many marketing emails are sent from a “no-reply” address, leaving the  recipients with no option to reach the sender. That means, in case they would like to interact with your team before taking the desired action, it’s not going to be possible.

So what do they do? They simply close the email and even forget about what it’s talking about. That said, anytime you’re designing an email marketing campaign it’s essential to keep in mind that building meaningful relationships with your customers comes first before you sell them your product.

Instead of working with a solution that only focuses on sending out the emails, you might want to work with a full-featured customer engagement platform like iService. With inbound email management, you can provide your team the necessary tools to engage with your recipients and help them along their journey to conversion. 

Your email copy is too long

Typically, people have several things to work in a day and they may not have all the time to read through lengthy emails. While you might want to give users sufficient information to convince them to buy from you, jamming your email copy with several paragraphs of texts might work against your success. It’s, therefore, essential to keep the email content short and precise so that even on a busy workday they may spare a few minutes to go through the content. Use catchy headlines and images to make the content more engaging. Instead of trying to give all the information at once, you can provide links to longer posts so that users can go through the content at their own pleasure.

Your design might be wrong

A brilliant email design is one that emphasizes the important parts of your marketing content. If your newsletters are cluttered chances are users might not be interested in going through the content. Typically, most users want to know what the email is all about at a glance. Therefore, if they’re straining to understand what you’re talking about, you’re simply missing the point. 

Your CTAs are less impactful

If your CTAs are generic, you’re going to get little in return. Your CTAs should essentially make your product memorable in every way so that users don’t feel you’re always asking them to take the same action every time you send them an email. With a well-crafted CTA it’s possible to compel users to  take the desired action, whether it’s visiting your products page to check new offers or an optimized landing page that requires action. Ensure your CTAs are tailored to the content to keep the emails relevant to your recipients.

Do you feel like you’re ready to improve your email conversion after going through this article? Well, give it a try and see how well it works for you.  

iService could be your game changer

Here’s why iService could be the game changer for your email conversion rate:

  • Mailing lists are built from your contact database. So you’re actually sending emails to people your agents have interacted with before.
  • Permission-based marketing whereby recipients can opt in and out of mailing lists whenever they want. In that way you only contact those who are in need of the information you’re sharing.
  • Use any custom contact property to target a specific group of people. For instance, you can use a custom contact property to limit recipients by location, product preference, or business unit. 
  • The execution of mailing lists is separate from the set up to avoid sending errant mailing messages. In that way, you can test your email.
  • Track your mailings and get a daily report of click rates.
  • Every mass mailing message is included in your contacts’ history. Therefore, you get a full overview of your interactions with a contact in one place

These are standard features for any outbound email tool these days. The real game changer is turning the campaign into an interactive dialogue with your list prospects. With sophisticated inbound messaging, you can remove any objections your recipients have and lead them gently down the path to conversion. 

If you’re out to boost your email conversion as well as improve your customer engagement, getting a full-featured customer engagement platform is the way to go. 

Preview Dialer: What You’re Missing

An automated dialer might come to mind as the most efficient process when you think of calling a list of contacts. But automated dialing (including predictive and progressive dialing) can be a risky endeavor. Auto-dialers can create an awkward delay when your customer or prospect answers the call. And their use can violate TSR and/or TCPA standards, which carry hefty fines and risks litigation from unhappy consumers.

Preview dialing, on the other hand, can give your prospects a better experience without compromising agent efficiency. If anything, a preview dialer ensures your agents deliver a personalized experience to customers without struggling to find contacts, numbers to call, and last contact information.

What is preview dialing?

Preview dialing uses a predetermined list of contacts that need to be reached, similar to an automated dialer. While an automated dialer takes control of the timing of the call, the preview dialer puts you in control. You have time to review the details about your contact, read the most recent call notes, and get your thoughts ready before the call is placed. If the contact isn’t available, you can leave a personal message and quickly document your voice mail in iService call notes.

Why should I consider preview dialing?

Here’s why you might consider preview dialer over an automated dialer.

1. Forget Abandoned Calls

The worst part of automated dialing is the potential for abandoned calls.  While the amount of downtime is increased when using a preview dialer, your agents can use that time to review call notes and ensure the customer experience is always top notch. 

2. Know The Customer Before a Call

When using a preview dialer, agents get to review information about the contact prior to the call. For instance, the iService preview dialer form offers a quick view of a contact’s profile as well as their recent interactions, giving agents valuable insights before a follow call. In that way, an agent gets into the call armed with information that’s useful to the contact. Essentially, you know exactly what’s needed to close each deal or reach a win-win solution. 

3. Take a Personalized Approach

As opposed to mass calling, preview dialing ensures you give personalized attention to every contact. The iService preview dialer form gives agents the tools they need for call notes, and includes direct access to the full contact page for each contact.  Taking such a personalized approach to reach out to your contacts compels them to work with you.

4. Selective Dialing

Although you try to reach all of your contacts during follow up, you might want to skip a few contacts on the list. This is only achievable with a preview dialer. At the end of every call an agent is able to see who’s next on the list and they can decide when to make the call or skip to the next contact on the list. For complex sales where a little research is needed between call sessions, a preview dialer comes in handy as agents have time to gather adequate information before making a call.

5. Avoid Delays

Nowadays most customers hang up when they realize the person calling is a telemarketer. Since automated dialers cause a delay in connecting the call, it’s easier for a customer to identify a telemarketer and drop the call. However, with a preview dialer, an agent starts speaking as soon as someone answers the call. The no-delay connection improves customer interaction thus making outbound calling campaigns more productive. And when the agent gets someone on the line, they know exactly what to say and have information at their fingertips.

If you’re out to make the most from your outbound calling campaigns, a preview dialer can be a critical part of your sales and marketing strategy.

Learn how to set up the preview dialer from our User Guide.