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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Come Hungry: Progressive Profiling and the 7 Course Meal

I’m heading into the field again as part of our research team. This time our consumer testing includes in-home interviews as well as in lab sessions. We are testing consumers’ response to what is commonly called progressive profiling. What we’re hoping to learn is: what drives consumers to give personal information to companies and what is the breaking point at which no more information will be shared?

As I readied myself for these interviews and observations it occurred to me that, if done correctly, progressive profiling is much like being presented with a seven-course meal. You begin with an appetizer designed to introduce the coming meal. It’s meant to be just a taste. This can be equated to logging into a website for the first time. You just want to browse. The way you navigate the page, where you click, lets the company know what may interest you. It gives them just a taste of who you are.

The next course is typically soup followed by the salad course. Neither of these courses is meant to fully satisfy your hunger. They do, however, provide a richer experience than the appetizer course. This can be compared to your customer’s second visit to your site. So far they like what they see, at least enough to come back for another peek. Creating an account becomes the next logical step. Usually this requires only an email address and can even be done with a social media sign-in like Facebook or Twitter. It’s just another small bite, non-threatening to them, yet informative to you.

Course four is a simple cleansing of the palate. A sorbet with fresh mint works nicely. The course has a definite purpose, but some may choose to skip it. Maybe they just don’t like sorbet or maybe the salad course was so delicious they want to enjoy that taste on their tongue a bit longer. This course can be equated to the shopping cart. Some consumers use the shopping cart for its intended purpose — to gather items they’d like to purchase into a central location until it’s time to check out. Others however, use the shopping cart as their wish list; a place to store the items they’d love to have, but aren’t ready to purchase. This is not the shopping cart’s intended purpose; however, not all consumers or all diners, are the same.

Onto one of two main courses: The fifth course is usually a lighter meat entrée such as fish or chicken. The sixth course is a heartier entrée typically involving red meat and vegetables. Here is the literal “meat and potatoes” portion of the meal and of the encounter with your customer. This is where you learn what drives your customers. You want every consumer who visits your site to become a customer. You have a better chance of making that happen when you make each consumer feel like you are marketing to them directly and with relevance. You know they like their steak cooked medium rare because you’ve asked and they’ve answered. You know they are a vegan and so you substitute courses five and six with something tailor made for them. Does your customer stay because you offer them discounts for completing their profile? Do they look forward to a free gift on their birthday and therefore freely divulge that personal piece of information? Do they love the fact that you know them so well that you send them personal emails when items you know they would adore go on sale? You know by this point in the meal, um process, how to reach and how to keep your customer.

Now it’s time for dessert, if you have room. Don’t overlook dessert just because you feel it’s overindulgent or you’ve already eaten six other courses. As the seventh and final course, dessert is likely what you’ll remember. Maybe you’ll even take an extra slice of cake home to have with your morning coffee.

The engagement you have with your customer at this point is still important. Keep them happy and satisfied by engaging with them in the way they prefer. Allow profile changes to be made easily and be sure to follow through. Stay relevant with the content and amount of communication you send. Don’t over stuff them with too much so they walk away without that final bite. Happy, satisfied customers talk to their friends and family about why they love your business. Leave them with a good taste in their mouth and they’ll come back for more. But all the while, remember that not everyone wants a seven-course meal. Some just want minimal engagement and are satisfied getting a quick value meal from a drive thru.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wireless Consent: Specific Preference Requirements Must be Met

The October 16th effective date for the new Prior Express Written Consent requirements to call for solicitation purposes, any mobile device or deliver a prerecorded message using an Automated Telephone Dialing System (ATDS) is fast approaching.

Companies that wish to obtain prior express written consent from consumers, for the purposes of placing calls to the consumer's wireless number via an ATDS or for delivering solicitous prerecorded messages, must ensure their lead sources meet specific requirements to obtain consent.

Any type of written consent, or agreement, should be clear and conspicuous and meet the following requirements:
  1. Written Agreement - Consent must be obtained in a written agreement, which includes the signature of the person providing consent. An electronic signature is sufficient to effectuate a written agreement in accordance with the E-SIGN Act.
  2. Identity of the Seller - the agreement must specifically indicate the seller(s) to whom consent is being provided.
  3. Telephone Number - the agreement must include the cellular number at which the person consents to receive calls. If the written agreement includes more than one number, it must be clear for which number(s) the person is consenting to receive calls.
  4. Affirmative Action - the consumer should take some affirmative action to indicate his/her agreement.
  5. Mandatory Disclosures - the agreement must clearly and conspicuously disclose:
    • The person authorizes the seller to make telemarketing calls.
    • The calls will be made using an ATDS (or prerecorded message, if applicable).
    • The person is not required to provide consent as a condition of purchasing any good/services.
Another common discussion on the subject is regarding "placement" of the disclosures. The rule is clear that these notices/disclosures must be "clearly and conspicuously" placed. This eliminates the possibility of simply adding this component to your current terms/conditions/privacy policy.

Additionally, companies should not clutter these required disclosures with other information such as gaining consent for e-mail, mail, statements that the party agrees to the terms and conditions, and so on. We recommend presenting these new disclosures in a distinct and clearly visible manner while providing for an affirmation of agreement, such as checking a previously unchecked box.

Consent can be captured when a new customer record is created, or when a customer initiates contact with a company. But these opportunities represent only a small fraction of the customer database for most large companies. For the rest, it’s important to put a plan in place to ensure compliance by October 16.

About the Author: 
Ken Sponsler, CIPP, PMP, is the Vice President & General Manager of the Direct Marketing Compliance Practice at CompliancePoint.

See more at: http://www.compliancepointdm.com

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wireless Consent Rules and The Need For Preference Management

Wireless Consent Rules and The Need For Preference Management

In the world of direct marketing and preference management there is a lot of buzz about the elements of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) amendments that pertain to wireless expressed consent. In an unofficial poll of my non-industry friends, nobody is talking about it. However, with just two months left to prepare, companies need to put these new rules on the forefront, adapting their preference centers and other customer touchpoints with compliant disclosures that will not confuse or put-off consumers, and that will be successful in obtaining opt-ins.
Today’s standard is what our organization refers to as ‘implied consent.’ In other words, if a customer provides a company with his or her wireless number in the context of doing business, the company could use that number for solicitation using a dialer (do not call considerations permitting). I feel I should point out that “solicitation” is a broad term and includes retention campaigns, upsell/cross sell campaigns, winbacks, and even follow-ups to direct inquiries. The regulations also cover SMS and pre-recorded messages, including couponing and sales alerts.
Starting October 16th, companies will need to have the customer’s express written consent to contact them via a wireless number for marketing purposes at all, regardless of DNC considerations. There are specific disclosures to which a consumer must provide an affirmative opt-in preference to meet the new consent standard. While this aspect of the amendments is limited to live calls and SMS to mobile phones and prerecorded messages, further regulation seems to be a matter of when, not if. More opt-in regulation means even more complex challenges for direct marketers. Many of these challenges are met with an effective preference management strategy.

The three key drivers that require companies to focus on a preference management strategy today are:
  1. modern "selfish" consumerism
  2. companies' desire to solve enterprise data complexity
  3. increasing privacy regulation such as the TCPA (and global pressure to move towards opt-in)
I advocate that it is vital for companies to start capturing and acting on customer communication preferences (opt-in and out) across all channels now. In doing so, your organization can create loyal and happy customers, enable personalization and customer engagement, and stay ahead of the regulatory curve.

There are serious implications for companies that do not comply with the new TCPA amendments, from steep fines to potential class action lawsuits. Companies need to have a plan in place now to collect opt-in consent from new and existing customers and prospects, to maintain records of consent, and to leverage the consent correctly. Obtaining wireless consent seems like a foreboding task for large organizations, but it is a necessary step to ensure compliance in any organization’s overall preference, consent, and personalization strategy.
Coming next week: Ken Sponsler from CompliancePoint will discuss some of the specific requirements for obtaining wireless consent.


About the Author: 
Sandy Tafur is the Manager, Account Management at PossibleNOW.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Hyper-Connected Consumer’s Preferred Channel

When you consider all of the ways you need to communicate with your customer - website, mobile device, call center, social media, point of sale, banner ads, direct mail and drip campaigns - do you think: so many channels, so little time? 
The good news is that your customer really doesn’t want to hear from you across all of these channels. And from our research, we have learned that based on your brand, message or offer customers will cluster in large groups that prefer only one or two channels over the others. 
So how do you know what your customer wants?  It’s as simple as asking.  Start by performing in-person research to understand the primary channels and content your customers care about. Then use that knowledge to implement the right engagement channels that will truly support your different customer groups’ wishes. 

After you start "asking," you will find that your customer may be looking for channels and experiences your company may not currently be providing: 

One website is no longer effective. 

In the early days of large website properties, customers were willing to take their time and browse, navigating through different pages and multiple clicks to find the information they wanted. The consumer was just excited the information was available! 

But with an increase in channels, especially mobile, and ever-present Internet access, customers expect personalization. They want fast, easy to consume information that is tailored to their unique drivers and they expect information to be displayed on their screens in a format suited to the mobile experience. 

Your company needs to be prepared to establish and maintain various platforms that allow customers to interact in the ways they want to engage. One website no longer fits all. Savvy companies provide unique website experiences for different customer clusters and have made the move to mobile to provide the appropriate customer experience to the growing set of customers that prefer that channel. 

You can’t control the path. 

Engagement savvy companies refer to their homepage as merely their “largest landing page” because they understand that customers will enter through many entry points.  With each entry point comes the opportunity to wow your customer or to sorely disappoint. 

Use the clues your customer provides through how they enter your site to determine their core driver and capitalize on this knowledge to craft messages that are targeted and appropriate.
Convenience and context is a key driver.

 In a recent consumer lab study, all of our respondents used multiple devices to access the web, such as laptops, tablets and smart phones. Their use was based on proximity and convenience.

At home, the computer was generally their first choice. On the run, their go-to device was a smart phone. There is a growing group of customers that believe they will never use a device more complicated than a tablet. 

Understand that your customer will gravitate towards the most convenient technology, but will expect the experience to continue to be personalized to them and there is a growing expectation that the experience will “remember” where they were in a given process.  If they start a shopping experience at home they want their tablet to let them pick up where they left off while waiting for the kids at ballet and softball practice. 

Times have changed: 

Consumers want to use online or mobile tools for functions that used to only be done in person. Banking is a great example of this trend. It’s all about convenience and what’s most convenient to the customer 

Customers expect to be able to complete any transaction on a smart phone app that they could handle online. When options are limited, it leads to customer frustration and is a risk of losing them to a competitor that is willing to meet them where they are.

By talking to your customer to understand what they want, you can determine where to focus your engagement efforts and learn how to support the hyper-connected consumer’s preferred channel.  The good news is, by asking, you will find that you can concentrate on a few channels and engagement strategies – just make sure they are part of your company’s current plans and in proper order.

About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hits bookstores this summer. Eric leads the professional services organization to strategically guide companies on the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.

Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw