Automating Customer Engagement

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Last week I wrote about "Dirty Data" and its potential to hold you back from automating customer engagement and how to fix it:

"Dirty Data" is just not sexy...or is it?

This week I wanted to table a discussion about how small businesses can start thinking about automating customer engagement throughout a customer's life cycle. We have powerful technology at our fingertips that we can deploy to stand out from the crowd and provide our customers amazing service delivered at a lower cost because of automation.

Many small businesses understand that these processes are important, but very few are implementing robust and repeatable processes to effortlessly transition their hard earned prospects into raving fans.

I see a customer's life cycle in three parts:

  1. Acquisition: A customer discovers your business anonymously through your website or social media channels. If information you have shared with them is compelling enough they will share their contact information to transition them into a prospect.
  2. Conversion: An engaged prospect gets a fuller picture of what your business offers and the value it represents. This value outweighs the price you charge and you are able to convert this prospect into revenue. Alternatively the benefit may not outweigh cost and the prospect remains a prospect for another day or is qualified out.
  3. Repeat/Referral: You have a customer who loves your business. You now have the opportunity to transform this one customer into five new ones. Happy and engaged customers who have had relevant communication throughout their time with you are ready to tell the world. Empower these customers to come back again and tell everyone to join them.
How are small businesses supposed to do this whilst extremely busy sourcing new leads and servicing existing customers?

Automation is the answer. After a business has cleaned their data, made sure it is in one spot and it’s categorised, they are ready to start planning for automated customer engagement.

Customer Journeys

Start documenting "Customer Journeys" to map out how information is both captured and provided to customers throughout the customers entire life cycle.

  • What should be shared automatically with a prospect to give them access to the full value of your goods or services to convert them to become a paying customer?
  • Once a customer is engaged what information should be shared with them to keep them informed and connected throughout service delivery?
  • How can you arm customers with information to better become brand ambassadors and activate five new leads into your pipeline?

Map every single one of your customers’ journeys for each of your products or services in logical groups. If you have a lot to map don't try to do these all at once focus on both the journeys that generate the most revenue and the ones that generate most value for the customer.

Quality not Quantity - Be targeted and be relevant

We are bombarded with information every day and sometimes businesses feel the need to keep up with this and bombard their database with regular updates in a predictable pattern e.g monthly newsletters.

One key piece of information with a meaningful message sent to a customer at exactly the right time in the right context will have them incredibly engaged.

We can achieve this by having clean data on each client, an up to date understanding of where they are at in their customer journey and relevant and engaging content that is delivered at just the right time.

  • Email marketing is dead or dying. Businesses must look towards SMS and Social Media feeds to supplement their interaction with their clients
  • Ban "newsletters" in your organisation and design emails, SMS's or phone call reminders at specific points in the customer journey
  • To be effective SMS should not be used in bulk however it should supplement ongoing contact with customers in an active customer journey post conversion
  • Protect your database. You’ve spent a lot of time and money building it. Reduce the amount of "unsubscribes" by treating your database with the same respect you want from companies who are in contact with you as a consumer
  • Tag to categorise all of the content your business creates with the relevant customer journey it is designed for. This will ensure the information you are sharing is targeted and relevant to the phase the customer is in
  • Continually update stages, statuses and products/services of interest for each prospect or customer so you know where everyone is at in their customer journey
Be just in time and even before they ask.

Tactile

Just because we are talking about automating our customers experience does not mean we are talking only about digital experiences for our customers. In this modern world we are seeing many small and medium businesses neglecting tactile communication.

  • Automate reminders for handwritten birthday cards or notes to your customers
  • Schedule phone calls within your database to key customers at given points in their journey
  • Once a customer has referred 2-3 new prospects to your business automate a "to do" task to call and thank this customer for their support
Enable technology to bring back the humanity in customer engagement.

Strip back your communication by mapping out your customer journeys. Use these journeys to automate quality customer engagement.

Triumph in the new normal of information overload and stand out from the pack.

© Andrew Sloan and "Andrew's Blog", 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew Sloan and "Andrew's Blog" with appropriate and specific direction to the original content via www.andrewsloan.com.au