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Thursday, May 2, 2013

3 Keys to Gain Buy-in for Enterprise-wide Customer Preference Centers

Companies are beginning to use opt-in marketing as the new standard for communications. The email vendors they work with provide the ability to opt-in or opt-out of email campaigns, their marketing departments are providing preference centers on company websites to opt in to newsletters and the customer service department provides customers the ability to choose how they want to receive customer communications such as e-bills.

The next step - companies want a single comprehensive view of a customer or prospect - a view that includes their cross channel preferences.  This is what is referred to as enterprise preference management.

Why is enterprise preference management important?  Because consumers view companies as a single entity and expect a company to understand them and honor their preferences regardless of the channel their interaction occurs through.

Enterprise wide preference management is no small effort because companies often deploy individual preference centers that create data silos across business units, brands and channels such as email, SMS, social media, and mobile. Businesses are realizing that in order to truly provide a great customer experience they must invest in cross channel preference collection. This means they must track and manage preferences for all communication channels, desired products and frequency and then share those preferences with every other department across the organization.

Deploying a cross channel preference management solution often feels like a daunting task.  To do this means you have to cross organizational boundaries, integrate with multiple databases and gain management buy-in.  Sounds ambitious!

Learnings from a progressive Fortune 500 software company.

Last year we hosted the Customer Experience Marketing Summit.  One of the many great speakers, Tim O’Brien, Group Manager, Digital Communications for Intuit, spoke on this very subject.  Here’s what he shared based on his experience.

1 - Start small – Build a proof of concept for the preference center.  By keeping it small, it’s easier to implement and measure.  Go after low hanging fruit where you can make a difference.  The solution doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be flexible enough to implement changes as measurement indicates success or failure.

Types of spot solutions (pain points) where many companies start. 
  1. Opt-downs: Give the customer a chance to stay connected but in a different way, instead of opting out completely.
  2. Green initiatives: Allow customers to change preferences to ‘e’ options instead of printed communications. This can include electronic billing/payment as well as delivery of marketing materials.
  3. Full preference center: A full preference center for a specific business unit can be the best solution for companies with multiple product lines and communication channels.  This enables customers to express their preferences regardless of the communication channel they choose to interact through. However, sometimes it makes more sense to start building a preference center on a smaller scale, then build on it based on learnings and best practices.

    For Intuit, a mind shift was needed for building a preference center:

“Because we’re a product company, we’re always trying to have the perfect solution, all the time. Let’s build something perfect that should cover every scenario that could ever happen. [In building our preference center] what we’ve said is we want to start small, within a business unit, restrict it there, and then get those learnings and shop it around. That’s the only way it’s going to happen.”
2 - Build a business case – By starting small and putting measurement tools in place you can use the results to build a business case.  If you demonstrate better marketing ROI, revenue or client satisfaction, others will get on board.  By demonstrating that you know the way to get there, you will put fears at rest and you will streamline the process each time by leveraging learnings from past implementations.
3 - Roll out to other business units – Based on success, roll out the preference center in phases and sell the results to people across the enterprise.  Just as no two customers are exactly alike, even two business units within the same enterprise can see different results. Again, this is where consistent measurement and flexibility become the keys to success. 

Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW and CompliancePoint. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace. 

With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today. 

              Follow me on Twitter: @EricTejeda | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Tejeda 

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