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Friday, January 31, 2014

Engagement Begins with Preference Management

For gyms and health clubs across the country, January is the real holiday season. An estimated 12-15 percent of all gym memberships in a given year are sold in January and most facilities see a huge spike in personal training, nutrition and class enrollments. Seeking to put the excesses of the holidays behind them – and perhaps to make good on that New Year’s resolution – millions of Americans are sweating their way through the depths of winter.

Inside the typical CMO’s office, a similar trend is in effect. But instead of building muscles, they are seeking to build engagement, that magical place where prospects become customers, customers become loyal fans and a healthy, profitable cycle of interaction gains momentum. Instead of classes and diets, CMOs are buying software, engaging consultants and (gulp) seeking buy-in from skeptical CEOs. 

In the gym, the search for fitness might begin with push-ups, the stair-stepper or perhaps some good old-fashioned weights.

In the CMO’s office, the solution is murkier. A clever social media campaign? A bigger investment in display advertising? A new in-store customer service training program?

For many enterprises, the journey to engagement must begin with listening to and learning from its audience. Without the basic ability to hear what consumers want and respond to their wishes, every other engagement initiative is doomed to fail. We call this preference management – the active collection and distribution of preferences such as product interest, channel preference and frequency of communication.

These preferences are not derived by profile data, purchase history or where they are on your website; rather, they are expressly stated by the consumer themselves. In other words, preference management means giving your customers and prospects the ability to conveniently communicate with your company, recording the information in a central location and acting on what they say.

Sounds simple, right? In truth, it can be incredibly complex for an enterprise-level company with numerous customer touchpoints, departments, offerings and locations. As larger organizations delve into the topic, they soon discover why preference management is easier said than done.

But who said getting in shape was easy? The point is that it is possible to make real progress on engagement when you start at the right place and move forward in incremental steps. I’ll discuss each of those steps in this space as the year progresses. But for now, I invite you to consider your company’s ability to collect, maintain and appropriately distribute customer and prospect information. Search this site for articles and videos on how to get started and don’t hesitate to contact us to lean more.

If engagement is your goal, preference management is your starting point. Welcome to the gym!

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

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