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Friday, June 28, 2013

You're Doing Customer Experience Innovation Wrong

In a recent Forrester survey a whopping 73% of interviewees say they plan to launch innovative customer experiences in the upcoming year — and two-thirds believe that they already have. At the same time, only 8% of the companies received a top grade from their customers according to the 2013 Forrester's Customer Experience Index.
That is a huge disparity!

In her article for the Harvard Business Review Blog, Kerry Bodine for Forrester Research, makes a lot of good points. They all start — and no surprise here — at the core: "Know your customer." Based on that she suggests that companies need to: 
  1. Reframe innovation opportunities
  2. Ground innovations in the business model
  3. Infuse innovations with the brand

PossibleNOW understands this challenge. We help our customers to better know their customers. 

Companies using MyPreferences® can easily ask their customers for their preferences. It gives companies the tools necessary to gain valuable insight into their wishes, their behaviors and then enables them to translate this knowledge into actions; 1-to-1 marketing, new products and innovative services. 

Learn more about MyPreferences and schedule your free consultation by calling (800) 585 4888 or email info@possiblenow.com.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

3 ways to get personal with your customers

The following excerpt was written by Maeghan Ouimet.  It contains some great information concerning the importance of getting personal with your customers.

At first glance, it seems like an impossible task: digital marketing today is all about connecting with customers on a personal level. Yet, with thousands upon thousands of consumers to reach and limited time and resources, the job of building mutually beneficial, long-term relationships can seem very impersonal.
"It’s not as hard as you think," says Wacarra Yeomans, Director of Creative Services at Responsys.
Although getting personal is different for each company and for each message, there are three core principles that can guide you when engaging your customers in a conversation.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bringing Fresh Eyes to Consumer Testing

We recently conducted a consumer usability study where one-on-one interviews and hands-on exercises were used to test a variety of preference centers. This was my first professional experience with consumer testing and I was hopeful that being on the "right" side of the looking glass would give me a sense of authority. I’m a crime show junkie and the experience was very much like watching a suspect be interrogated; albeit slightly less intimidating and without the handcuffs. I knew why the bright lights, hidden cameras and microphones were there. I was ready for three days of questions and answers, ready to connect the dots, solve the case. Lights, camera, action...research.

Eighteen persons of interest were lead one by one into the stark, yet brightly lit room; a lawyer, a stay at home mom, a retired Naval Officer, and a student, to name a few. They were a mix of vibrant, tame, interesting and out there personalities. Each took a seat in front of the lap top, participated in an interview, accomplished a given set of tasks on the computer, and was questioned again. Some seemed suspicious of the process. Several were endearing as they shared stories of their hardships, accomplishments, and hopes. Most were open and confident, full of good information. All were interesting.

The lineup consisted of a cross section of our city. Age, income, and ethnicity were equally represented. I carefully observed as each individual settled into the designated spot.  I was on the edge of my seat, watching body language evolve as the “investigator” shared pleasantries to put the subject at ease. Finally, it was time for the questioning to begin. I was loving this!
A few of the more compelling things I witnessed:
  • The younger respondents, ages 18-35, were very comfortable with the tasks. Most were trusting with the information they were willing to provide or what could be obtained by signing into a site with Facebook.
  • Older respondents were less likely to sign in with a Facebook or Twitter option. Some simply didn’t participate in social media; while others were skeptical of signing in via a third party, unsure of what personal information might be revealed.
  • Some respondents were guarded with their answers, sharing very little. One appeared to answer the way she felt the researcher wanted her to answer. That occurs occasionally during a customer study, but as an observer it’s disappointing.
There were a couple of observations specifically related to preference management:
  • One participant was a lawyer who estimated he received more than 700 emails per day. Hopefully, he walked away from this experience with some tools to help manage that considerable amount of communication.
  • Another participant did not own a cell phone because she didn’t want to "be tracked".  My guess is that when given the chance, she opts out of everything.
As an undergraduate studying psychology at Michigan State University, I often played the role of guinea pig for graduate student projects. I found myself on the participant side of the mirror more than once, which was unnerving, to say the least. It was good to see that most of our study participants seemed relaxed and eager to give us feedback. In the end, I decided it’s much more appealing to be on the observer’s side of the glass studying others than it is to be the one in the hot seat.

About the Author: 
Darci Bullard is the Project Coordinator for PossibleNOW's Preference Management Consulting group.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Highlighting Your Preference Center In The Email

The following is an excerpt from a blog written by Andrew Kordek, Chief Strategist and Co-Founder of Trendline Interactive. It speaks to the importance of preference centers and the need for optimization.

If you have spent a fair amount of time and money in you preference center and actually use the data that comes in when people update their "stuff" then you as a marketer need to shout it from the rooftop on each and every email that this sort of thing is important to the subscriber and to you. Doing anything less and you might as well throw money down the drain.

See more at: http://www.trendlineinteractive.com/2013/05/highlighting-your-preference-center-in-the-email/#sthash.1xReyPnr.dpuf

Monday, June 17, 2013

What to Consider Before Building a Preference Center

One of my favorite brands is also a constant frustration for me. I visit their website several times each week but I feel like they have no idea who I am when I log in. Sure, there a lot of times when I want to browse a site anonymously and not be bombarded with irrelevant marketing messages later. But for my go-to brands and sites, I want the company to say, ‘Hi Rob, welcome back, here’s what we have for you today!’

Preference Starts with Compliance

Compliance is at the root of preference management. At the very minimum, companies have to comply with regulations around communicating with customers. However, many companies find that a simple opt in or opt out system that meets compliance only results in too many opt outs. Complicating things, compliance regulations are constantly changing and there are penalties if you don’t keep up. Those penalties can cost financially, but can also cost in customers who choose to leave over a bad experience. 

Build vs. Buy 

Many companies come to us after they have tried to build their own preference center. For some, their system worked fine but they want to update it and expand capabilities. Other companies might have gone through a merger or acquisition, or a significant technology overhaul that rendered the old system inadequate for current needs. These customers tend to know what they want but simply don’t have the capacity to build it out internally.

When outsourcing a preference center (the ‘buy’ option), companies need to know from a technology perspective what the data needs to look like and how it should move across the enterprise. For example, do you want to use a contact element, such as an email address, to develop a customer’s profile or do you want a unique identifier such as an account number for everyone?

One option is not necessarily better than the other; it’s more a factor of how the company wants to organize data. Your customers’ behavior patterns may also come into play. For example, a frequent flier for an airline is very likely to remember his account number because he uses it frequently to purchase tickets or check in for a flight. But that same customer may not want to have to remember an account number for an online shopping site; he might prefer to use an email address to log in for those transactions instead.   

Just Ask

Don’t guess what your customers want, just ask, they will tell you. And keep in mind, one size does not fit all. With all the communication touch points we have today (mail, phone, email, mobile, SMS, etc.) customers expect a personal approach and more customized options. They don’t want you simply asking, ‘can I contact you?’ Rather, they want you to ask, ‘what can I contact you about, and how?’ Communicate with customers on their terms, not on what you think they want. Customers like to feel empowered to direct their experience with a company.

I read a study from the American Marketing Association (AMA) that said by 2020 all marketing will be preference based. Preference centers implemented today need to be future proofed to adapt to changes in technology, compliance and customer behavior that doesn’t even exist yet.

About the Author: 
Rob Tate is the Director of Enterprise Sales at PossibleNOW.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Technical Considerations for Building a Preference Center

In a former life, I managed construction projects ranging from custom homes to major highways. I’ve noticed the parallels between construction and software; two seemingly different worlds, are amazingly similar. You need a solid plan before you build custom software or a custom home; a good architect is priceless in either industry.
Some think all you have to do is invest heavily into the planning and preparation stages and the job will run itself. To the contrary, diving into either type of project without identifying resources, risks, and fully vetting through “what if” scenarios is an invitation for delivering questionable work behind schedule and over budget.
Define goals and set expectations early, make the overall vision of the project well-known and crystal clear, before you break ground. Measure twice, cut once.
The same analogy could be used for building a preference center. The heavy lifting is done up front. You need to know the desired outcome, but also put the work in at the outset to be sure you achieve it.
Start with what you know:
First we need to look at your existing preference center, if one exists, and determine what’s working and what’s not. Even if you’re building from the ground up, there’s still a good amount of prep work to be done. We will look at your current systems and technology, for example existing database or CRM programs, to see how those can be integrated into the preference center.
One frequent challenge is when different business units, or even departments, don’t work in synch. Sometimes they are using different systems; other times there is duplication of efforts. This issue is pretty common with companies that have grown via mergers or acquisitions and various systems weren’t integrated.
Be willing to change:
Clients typically come to the table knowing what they want in a preference center. Realistically, they think they know what they want until we start asking questions to get to the root of what they really want. It is common that a company starts small with the preference center, say with one business unit, to test different options and work out any glitches before it is rolled out to the larger enterprise.
Making sure your preference center is flexible enough to adapt to changing consumer patterns, such as the current trend toward mobile devices as a primary communication tool, is imperative.
It’s important that a preference center and the overall preference management solution be scalable to adapt to an ebb and flow of activity. Our typical customer is a Fortune 500 company that may have thousands of ‘interactions’ per day. On a daily basis new customers are added, existing customers change their profiles, and some may opt out. The preference center and underlying technology needs to be scalable for a new marketing campaign launch or when a situation arises that results in a notable spike in customer interaction.
Best Practices:
Preference centers as they exist today are still a fairly new concept. Collecting customer data isn’t new, but the tools available for managing preferences has grown by leaps and bounds in just the last few years. Preference management has gone from a relatively simple process - collect customer data and provide an option to opt out of communications - to a highly technical system that can boost a company’s bottom line if done correctly. For example, beyond simply collecting an email address and communications preference, a good preference center can use data customers provide to target marketing messages or develop user types.  
What was once trial and error is rapidly resulting in best practices. As we continue to learn what works, and as technology becomes more advanced, we can use this learning to build even more efficient and effective preference centers.



About the Author: 
Matt Howard is a Project Manager for PossibleNOW's preference management consulting group.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What Do Your Customers Really Care About?

Speakers Explain Benefits of Voice of Customer Research at the 2013 Customer Engagement Marketing Summit
In my last blog, I introduced you to some of the thought leaders and marketing innovators who will speak at the Customer Engagement Marketing Summit in September. This event features a stellar array of speakers who will share insights and proven strategies for success in customer engagement and much more. If you (or others in your organization) are involved in customer engagement, customer experience, mobile marketing, digital marketing or customer retention, then I hope that you will make plans to attend.
Let's meet more of our speakers and the case studies that they will share so that attendees can embrace (and improve) customer engagement.
Marketers active in the Direct Marketing Association will undoubtedly recognize Ernan Roman who was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame for creating three transformational methodologies: Voice of Customer (VoC) Research, Opt-in Marketing, and Integrated Direct Marketing. Ernan also writes the widely read blog, "Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices."
This year at the CEM Summit, Ernan will delve into the topic, "What Do Your Customers Really Care About?" based on recently conducted research.  He will share new Voice of Customer insights including that it's not about price, that satisfaction is a given — and that it is all about engagement. He'll provide attendees with eight action items to help them transform their organization’s customer engagement strategies.
Sandi Finn, president of Cross Country Home Services and Kris Gates, AVP of Customer Experience Marketing at MassMutual will also reveal what they have learned from Voice of Customer research. Their presentation explains "How To Achieve Powerful Engagement Throughout The Customer Lifecycle."
Under Sandi’s leadership at Cross Country, the company has achieved ongoing double-digit revenue growth. Sandi promotes a culture at Cross Country that is passionately focused on creativity, strategic vision and cross-functional teamwork.
Kris Gates is no stranger to the importance of customer experience. In his current role at MassMutual, he is focused on customer experience for the Retirement Services Division and develops, executes and measures marketing strategies designed for employees of companies that offer MassMutual retirement and insurance products.
Together, Kris and Sandi will explain, "Why you don't know the needs of your customers as well as you think that you do" and describe the six most important points for customer engagement.
I’ll share more about the valuable insights that our CEM Summit speakers will share with attendees in future blogs. In the meantime, please be sure to visit the following:


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 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Responsys Interact – A Vendor's View

After three days in San Francisco at Responsys Interact 2013, the PossibleNOW team was walking with a little pep in their step. What a great event!
As a first time attendee and a first time sponsor, it was an exciting place to be. Never have I felt such a warm welcome from so many members of a partner organization. It was nice to be so welcomed and appreciated, and greeted with a smile during every new conversation.
Marketing is changing. We know it, and so do the folks at Responsys. With our strategic partnership recently announced, we were excited to support the conference and officially unveil our joint offering, Interact Preference, which is centered on consumer preference management.
Interact Preference caused quite a stir among all those in attendance. It goes to show that the marketplace is ready to embrace the need to honor the consumers’ preferences in their communications, regardless of channel. While email was a big focus of the event, other communication channels were brought to light and the ability to manage content and frequency preferences across all channels brought a new and exciting vision to the keynote demonstration on opening day.
PossibleNOW has been focused on preference management for over 13 years, and the payoff for that hard work is found in the opportunity to partner with such an innovative and reputable organization as Responsys. This is just the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship, and Interact 2013 served as proof.
But it wasn’t all “work” – we won’t soon forget about how much fun we had at the event: networking opportunities, breakout sessions full of rich content, top tier keynote speakers, a concert with Michael Franti, and a lot of great support for the nonprofit organization Charity:Water.
The PossibleNOW team was impressed every step of the way and is looking forward to Responsys Interact in London and to attending Responsys Interact 2014 next year.


About the Author: 
Guy Caldwell is an Enterprise Account Executive at PossibleNOW.