Direct Marketing Magazine October 2018

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Agent engagement: the key to better outcomes

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Marketing across generations

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Re-energizing success

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vol. 31 • No. 9 • October 2018

The Authority on Data-Driven Engagement & Operations

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Vol. 31 | No. 9 | October 2018 EDITOR Brendan Read - brendan@dmn.ca PRESIDENT Steve Lloyd - steve@dmn.ca DESIGN / PRODUCTION Jennifer O’Neill - jennifer@dmn.ca Advertising Sales Mark Henry - mark@dmn.ca

Agent engagement: the key to better outcomes

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Marketing across generations How best to reach Gen X, Y and Z

Fax: 905.201.6601 Toll-free: 800.668.1838 home@dmn.ca www.dmn.ca

Twitter: @DMNewsCanada

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Invest in support to grow loyalty

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POSTMASTER:

How Union Gas used data and analytics to reinvigorate a paperless billing campaign

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Please send all address changes and return all undeliverable copies to: Lloydmedia Inc. 302-137 Main Street North Markham ON L3P 1Y2 Canada

Re-energizing success

YEARS OF PUBLISHING

LLOYDMEDIA INC. HEAD OFFICE / SUBSCRIPTIONS / PRODUCTION:

Direct Marketing is an independently-produced publication not affiliated in any way with any association or organized group nor with any publication produced either in Canada or the United States. Unsolicited manuscripts are welcome. However unused manuscripts will not be returned unless accompanied by sufficient postage. Occasionally Direct Marketing provides its subscriber mailing list to other companies whose product or service may be of value to readers. If you do not want to receive information this way simply send your subscriber mailing label with this notice to: Lloydmedia Inc. 302-137 Main Street North Markham ON L3P 1Y2 Canada.

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Demographic Segmentation

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Tyler Koblasa Jessica Bevilacqua Debbie Major Richard Boire Blair Pleasant Blair Cameron Elizabeth Del Giudice Stephen Shaw Colin Taylor Hugh Hibbert John Wiltshire Jan Kestle

EDITORIAL CONTACT: Direct Marketing is published monthly by Lloydmedia Inc. plus the annual DM Industry Guide. Direct Marketing may be obtained through paid subscription. Rates: Canada 1 year (12 issues $48) 2 years (24 issues $70) U.S. 1 year (12 issues $60) 2 years (24 issues $100)

Data-Driven Organizations

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The evolution of relationship marketing

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October 2018

The evolution of data science

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Note from the President

Contact centres: looking back and looking forward

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Three decades! Time flies when we are having fun!

Relation1’s François Gaumond on 30 years of personalization

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Letter to the Editor: Thirty years of direct marketing, same but different

A strong history and a bright future: direct marketing in Canada

Next issue… November • Fundraising • Payments Processing • Feature: The Big Shift October 2018

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Customer Centricity

Agent engagement: the key to better outcomes W hile more companies are focusing on the customer experience, the need to also focus on the agent experience is just as great as the agent experience directly impacts the customer experience.

Blair Pleasant is president and principal analyst, COMMfusion (www.commfusion.com), an independent industry analyst and consulting firm, focusing on unified communications, collaboration, customer engagement, contact centre and social media. Blair can be reached at bpleasant@commfusion.com.

Why engagement matters Contact centre agents are the customer-facing employees, therefore agent engagement must be a priority. Engaged agents are more likely to build stronger relationships with customers, helping their employers increase sales and profitability. They strive for greater success and are motivated in their jobs and for the organizations. From a revenue perspective, engaged agents are more likely to have longer and better customer interactions and find more upsell and crosssell opportunities. It should be no surprise that companies with higher employee engagement levels have better operational, organizational and financial outcomes. They have lower absenteeism and turnover rates, thus reducing the costs associated with hiring and training new workers, as well as decreased performance gaps caused by frequently bringing new staff up to speed. However, most employees are not engaged. According to a study by Dale Carnegie and MSW Research only 29% of the workforce is engaged, while 45% is not and 26% is actively disengaged1. Businesses know that engagement is important, but they don’t always take the necessary actions. For example, an International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) study found that 89% of companies ranked employee engagement as an important priority, but only one quarter of them consider their agents to be extremely engaged2. Improving agent engagement There are many ways to increase agent engagement, and most are quite simple to implement. The key is motivating and empowering workers to provide a higher level of customer care. Here’s a sampling of how you can help drive agent engagement. Information empowerment To be successful, agents need as much information as possible about the customers, with visibility into customers’ histories with the company and past interactions and be equipped to help customers by: ❯❯ Augmenting traditional tools like screen pop and CRM integration with customer journey information; ❯❯ Being provided with dashboards or user interfaces that gives them holistic and single views of customers; and ❯❯ Having FAQs, knowledge bases and even artificial intelligence (AI) bots to quickly answer customers’ questions. Recognition and rewards Reward and recognize agents in ways that inspire

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them and drive continuous improvement. Providing incentives motivates agents to do their best. Rewards can range from gift cards to monthly pizza parties for top performers. Praise can go a long way: a shout out over social media, contact centre wallboards or agent dashboards lets the agents know that their work is appreciated. Competition breeds success Gamification encourages healthy competition. Agents are motivated to push themselves harder to get improved results by identifying not only how they’re doing, but how they’re doing compared with other agents on their team or in their organizations. Earning badges and trophies for performance in various competitions helps agents stay motivated, while having some fun. Get creative when using gamification. For example, apply points to activities such as taking calls, and give rewards when agents resolve customers’ problems on the first calls or when customer satisfaction scores increase. Coaching and training When agents see how much the organization has invested in and values their development, they become highly engaged and more motivated to take care of customers. Providing coaching and training on a regular basis and investing in next-generation coaching tools helps ensure that agents are equipped to handle customers’ needs.

A supportive corporate culture It’s important to look beyond the technology to the role that corporate culture plays. Employee engagement as a corporate value needs to come from the top and should be demonstrated in various ways: ❯❯ Create a culture where employees feel comfortable initiating conversations and listening to customers instead of just answering questions as fast as possible; ❯❯ Trust your agents to do the right things and give them the freedom to use their best judgment and not always read from scripts and keep calls short; and ❯❯ Change your metrics and key performance indicators to those that value and emphasize agent engagement and empowerment. To that end, rather than focusing on length of calls, look at the outcomes and results of the interactions. Agents who are motivated, engaged and empowered are happier and more satisfied with their jobs and will provide better customer care. With an abundance of tools and technologies to help provide agents with the information they need to better serve customers, organizations can meet those goals. 1 Dale Carnegie, “Let’s Become Human Again”, online training course, https://www. dalecarnegie.com/en/courses/lets-become-human-again-san-antonio-classroom 2 ICMI, “Trend Report: Improving Employee Engagement in the Contact Center”, white paper, June 14, 2016.

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Demographic Segmentation

Marketing across generations How best to reach Gen X,Y and Z

By Jessica Bevilacqua and Elizabeth Del Giudice

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illennials, i.e. Generation Y have been the hot button for marketers. It’s a logical strategy as they make up the largest population—80 million strong in the U.S. alone—with a disposable income set to reach $1.4 trillion by 20201. But we discovered that marketers are ignoring other generations at their own peril, leaving money on the table, and worse, alienating valuable consumers in the process. While there are always exceptions, it’s only natural that those brought up under the same social, economic and technological conditions will exhibit similar consumer behaviours. With this in mind, we conducted a deep dive into each generation’s unique attributes, how they developed them and how this translates into behaviour: resulting in a wealth of consumer knowledge. You can view our findings and identify the most effective ways to market to each generation with our report, Marketing Across Gen X, Y & Z. Each generation wields significant power in the marketplace: factors worth considering before deciding on the ideal target consumer. Our aim is to better educate brands on the importance of marketing across generations and provide actionable advice on how to do it. Our report compiles data illustrating why each generation is valuable and provides specific recommendations on how and where to target them. Here are several highlights from our report. Generation X Born between the mid ‘60s and the late ‘70s, Generation X (Gen X) grew up with less adult supervision and very high divorce rates, creating a generation of self❱ DMN.ca

sufficient and savvy individuals. They came of age during a technological revolution, making it necessary for them to adapt to a constantly changing environment. Now middle-aged, individuals in this generation are at the peak of their careers, in their prime earning years and have the highest household income out of any generation2. Although they make up only a quarter of the population, their spending power is disproportionately higher, making up 31% of total consumer spending3. Many Generation Xers are also raising children or looking after aging parents, effectively becoming the major decisionmakers for multiple generations. YouTube is the perfect platform to reach this market, with three quarters of Gen Xers watching it at least once a month, resulting in 1.5 billion views every day4. Gen Xers search YouTube for trends, news and tutorials, a behaviour borne out of the independence and responsibility they developed in childhood. Brands can capitalize on GenX’s appetite for information by delivering product and pricing related messaging and DIY (do it yourself) videos related to home improvement, cooking, tech, crafts and beauty. At the same time, growing up before the dawn of social media means that Generation X still enjoys traditional media: 48% listen to the radio, 62% still read newspapers and 85% who go on the Web prefer to watch their favourite shows on TV5. While some brands might shy away from a potentially fragmented media strategy, there’s also an opportunity to reach this generation across a myriad of different platforms. Generation Y/Millennials Generation Y (or Gen Y)/ Millennials, who are those born between the late ‘70s and late ‘90s, are expected to shortly overtake the Baby Boomers in population size6. Brands that earn the loyalty of this generation are setting themselves up future success with predictions that 75% of the world’s

workforce will be made up of Gen Y/Millennials by 20257. Raised by “helicopter parents” Generation Y was typically shielded from most of life’s hardships. This fuels the perception that they are pampered and entitled. But their sheltered upbringing makes them incredibly optimistic, preferring brands that stand for something and that try to change the world for the better. It’s why cause marketing can be especially effective in connecting with Gen Y/Millennials and their idealistic mindset. Generation Y has had access to computers from the time they were born, making them highly dependent on technology with an expectation for immediate gratification. Importantly, seven out of eight Gen Yers/Millennials own smartphones and use them as their preferred devices for web surfing and online shopping8. Brands can reach them through employing a strong digital and mobile strategy and by putting convenience as a top priority. Peers are hugely influential with this generation. This factor coupled with the popularity of social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat make micro-influencer campaigns especially effective. Generation Z Born between the mid 1990s and mid-2000s, these teens hold massive sway over household spending. 93% of parents stated that their Generation Z (or Gen Z) kids influence family spending decisions at home9, while twothirds of teens are shopping online10. This generation was born into speedy Internet access and high-tech mobile technology, growing up with a wealth of information at their fingertips. Unlike their Gen Y/Millennial counterparts, Generation Z was raised to confront the realities of everyday life. It’s made them informed, empathetic and eager to accelerate the social change they’ve grown up around. They are drawn to businesses with strong inspirational messages, good

business ethics and strategies that affect social or economic change. With their early exposure to sophisticated tech, Gen Z has a low tolerance for poor online experiences, with more than 60% refusing to use difficult to navigate apps or web sites11. Brands hoping to reach Gen Z need to ensure their web sites and apps are simple and offer convenience. Better still, incorporate cutting edge technology like augmented and virtual reality, considered one of the “coolest” things in tech by this generation12. Finally, each generation functions and thinks a certain way. Taking note of these trends and unlocking their habits allows brands to better understand how to market to each specific group. Through incorporating each generation’s specific consumer behaviours, media consumption and business expectations into marketing plans, brands will be in a better position to make meaningful connections across generational lines. Jessica Bevilacqua is sales and marketing

coordinator at St. Joseph Communications (SJC) (www.stjoseph.com). Jessica supports the company’s sales team and assists with digital marketing campaigns for external clients. Jessica’s expertise includes content creation, digital strategy, CRM database management and ad buying on all platforms. Elizabeth Del Giudice is a digital marketing professional, ranging from public relations to social media. She has worked with various brands to develop strategic approaches to support digital initiatives and connect with customers. She also focuses on the creation of SJC content. 1 Kim Speier, “Why Are Marketers So Obsessed With Millennials?”, Social Media Today, June 10, 2016. 2 Rebecca Harris, “Insights into the ‘forgotten’ Gen X customer”, Marketing, June 14, 2016. 3 Robert Klara, “5 Reasons Marketers Have Largely Overlooked Generation X”, Adweek, April 4, 2016. 4 Netta Gross, Brianne Janacek Reeber, “Marketing to Gen Xers? Here’s what they’re watching on YouTube”, Think with Google, January 2017. 5 Dan Schawbel, “44 of the Most Interesting Facts About Generation X”, DanSchawbel, July 26, 2015. 6 Richard Fry, “Millennials Projected to Overtake Baby Boomers as America’s Largest Generation”, Pew Research, March 1, 2018. 7 Harris Poll, “Global Generations”, EY, 2015. 8 Fluent, “Marketing to Millennials,” June 4, 2018. 9 Tessa Wegert, “5 Things Marketers Need to Know About Gen Z”, Contently, June 30, 2016. 10 “Generation Z, New insights into the mobile-first mindset of teens”, Think with Google, March 2017. 11 IBM, “Move Over Millennials: Generation Z Is The Retail Industry’s Next Big Buying Group”, Forbes, January 12, 2017. 12 Google, “It’s Lit, a Guide to What Teens Think is Cool”.

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Advertorial

Prepare Your Email Marketing for the Holiday Season Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst, Oracle Bronto Can you believe the holiday season is nearly upon us? As Gray November, a month-long series of retailer discounts, peeks its head around the corner, there is no time to waste in ensuring your holiday email marketing strategy is well planned out and optimized for revenue growth. Here are some key ways to help you prepare your email marketing for success during the holiday season and beyond. 1. Find what distinguishes you from competitors. During the next few months you will have both regular, seasonal, or firsttime buyers shop with you. Be sure to let them know why they should choose to shop with you and not elsewhere. Prominently promote value-adds, like extended return policies, gift wrapping, price guarantees, or satisfaction guarantees. You can promote them on your website, in your marketing messaging, and on your social sites. This strategy is particularly critical if your brand does not discount. 2. Plan your promotion strategy. There are many discount structures to choose from. Consider your target sales demographics to design ones that appeal to customers and protect your margins. Three trends to watch for this year include offering category-specific sales, free gifts with purchases, and in-store only discounts. These tactics will keep consumers opening marketing emails throughout the season, allow retailers to sell add-on items with greater margins, and drive in-store traffic.

4. Utilize product recommendations: Self-gifting is real. It has been a rising trend over the past several years, and with strategies like tiered discounts that encourage self-gifting, it shouldn’t be a surprise. While gift-focused emails are popular this time of year, they often ignore the actual email recipient. Yet, in many instances, that subscriber is also a customer. Be sure to implement intuitive and personalized product recommendations both inside of your emails and on your website. This will ensure that gifting emails still contain relevant content for the subscriber, while encouraging and enticing the self-gifting mantra. Bonus tip: Don’t forget to include these recommendations in your transactional emails as well. 5. Seize upon, and don’t lose out to, the U.S. market: The U.S. is projecting a 15.3% growth in ecommerce sales over last year. The time is right for Canadian retailers to take a portion of those consumer dollars. No longer do Black Friday and Cyber Monday stand alone in the U.S. These promotions commonly start early and have morphed into Cyber Week. Because of this, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., the day before Black Friday, continues to grow as a popular shopping day for U.S. consumers. Yet, while they are looking for deals on this day, so too are Canadian consumers. In fact, 26% of Canadian consumers look forward to Black Friday, nearly twice as much as U.S. consumers. Be sure to have your Black Friday promotions ready to go and consider starting them early in the week.

Even if your planning seems solid, be sure to have a promotional contingency plan in place. This includes preparing backup promotions or variations of promotions ahead of time. Have the email creative designed and set the promo codes in your ecommerce platform and email marketing provider in advance. In a period where every second can mean a lost sale, this will ensure your team remains nimble.

Preparing your email marketing for a successful holiday season can be overwhelming. Paying attention to these strategies should help you not only set you up for a successful holiday, but also help grow your email marketing revenues the rest of the year. If you’d like more creative inspiration and holiday planning tips, be sure to visit our holiday resource page: https://bronto.com/holiday/.

3. Pay attention to mobile. In 2018, we live in a mobile-first world. It is critical to ensure your emails (and website) are mobileoptimized. Make your emails compelling and visually stimulating with the use of natural flow, colours that stand-out, and whimsical designs. But remember: Make sure it can be clearly understood in seconds. Don’t worry: If your emails render well on a phone, they’ll look great on a laptop. This is the new norm.

About Greg Zakowicz

October 2018

As a former consultant with more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Greg Zakowicz has first-hand knowledge about the challenges facing the retail industry. Now, as Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst at Oracle Bronto, he provides thoughtful insight to the Internet Retailer Top 1000, and is a frequent speaker at ecommerce events.

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Data Driven Organizations

Re-energizing success How Union Gas used data and analytics to reinvigorate a paperless billing campaign By Hugh Hibbert

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hen it comes to getting consumers to switch to paperless billing, no Canadian utility does it better than Union Gas: but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Union Gas, a major Canadian natural gas storage, transmission and distribution company based in Chatham-Kent, Ontario and owned by Enbridge, has been pulling out all the stops for a number of years to convince customers to switch to electronic billing. Using promotions and incentives the utility managed to convince 36% of their customers to move away from paper bills. But after following the same strategy for about 10 years they felt they were starting to lose momentum. “Once we started to get past the

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low to mid 30% range it started to get harder to get those sign-ups,” said Karen Sweet, manager, market research and analysis at Union Gas. “We were offering the same promotions, but we were getting fewer people.” The work Union Gas did to get to this point was remarkable considering paperless billing rates in the industry are more commonly in the 15-20% range. Because the company was already well ahead of the industry benchmark, it knew it was going to have to work even harder to build on those numbers. Finding customers to target Up to this point Union Gas had largely relied on mass market advertisements and bill inserts to get its message out. In order to reinvigorate the paperless billing drive the company felt it was time to adopt a more innovative strategy, targeting consumers with specific promotions and messaging. The challenge was how to find those customers. Many of the existing customers who opted into paperless billing were evenly distributed across the company’s service area; without more research there was no obvious way to figure out which areas to target and how to engage them. In 2017 Union Gas commissioned Environics Research and Environics Analytics to design a new segmentation strategy rooted in psychographics and geo-demographic data. Their goal was

to better understand who their clients are and what motivates them to adopt new products and services. Once that work was done they would look to the data again to find the best ways to connect with them. Moreover, by linking primary market research and third-party data, Union Gas also saw an opportunity to validate their work to ensure they were on the right path. By leveraging PRIZM5, Environics Analytics’ proprietary segmentation system and SocialValues, jointly developed with Environics Research, which is a database that explains how an audience will respond to specific advertising and communications, Union Gas discovered it had seven distinct target groups. The segmentation approach showed that the early paperless adopters were higher in terms of their economic status. While younger populations tend to favour technology more, age wasn’t found to be a factor in who switched from their paper bills. The data showed that customers who lived in neighbourhoods with more access to technology, who were also comfortable using connected devices, were more likely to incorporate digital into other parts of their lives. Strong and also surprising results Seven target groups emerged out of this segmentation work, but Union Gas focused on the top five segments that offered the greatest potential. Because PRIZM5 can link to postal codes, Environics Research was able to attach a segment to each customer in the Union Gas database and then execute a focused and targeted survey with only the most relevant customer subgroups. Since the segmentation data from Environics Analytics already contained demographic, wealth and behavioural information, it allowed Environics Research to focus more of the survey on filling in gaps

their current understanding of the customers’ bill management processes. The segmented data also enabled it to test potential incentives to encourage customers to try a new process. “It gave us the capacity to talk with each segment and target them individually,” said Sweet. “We found that each segment liked different incentives.” For instance, one group might be more into the idea of creating a social benefit but that wasn’t as much of a priority for others. The segmentation data also showed which consumers would be more likely to be moved by messages around the ethical and ecological impact of their consumption and who would see paperless billing as a way to alleviate the stress of their financial management responsibilities. A few surprises came out of this research, too. For instance, these data that showed that doubling the value of the cash prize consumers would be eligible for would likely have little impact on the number of new paperless billing enrollments. “We were pleasantly surprised by this,” said Ali Zulfiqar, advisor, market research at Union Gas. “Since there was no difference in the response between the two prizes, why offer $10,000?” This was an important finding because the research showed that consumers were more motivated by incentives that included cash prize draws than small credits on their bill for going paperless. It’s easy to see why Union Gas is eager to recapture some of its momentum around paperless billing. With approximately 1.5 million customers and postage costs increasing every year, it could be looking at significant savings from a 1% to 2% change in paperless adoption, which would more than justify the additional resources needed to target specific customers. Hugh Hibbert is director, consulting services at

Environics Analytics. October 2018


YEARS OF PUBLISHING

October 2018

DIRE CT M ARKET Disp ING rede elling co m up

Vol.

Celebrating three decades of serving the DM industry.

Steve Lloyd President, DM Magazine

No. 1•

MAY 20

08

Editor’s Letter

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Special Edition Thanks all of you, our friends, advertisers, partners, contributors and our staff, but above all our readers who have made our journey over the past 30 years great, exciting, memorable and worthwhile. We started DM Magazine back in October 1988 to supply insightful and timely information to help you grow your direct marketing organization. While the environment, the companies and the technology have changed, as our 30th anniversary issue articles point out, the objectives of direct marketing, namely connecting and engaging customers with targeted data-driven offers remains the same. So keep reading and supporting DM Magazine, and tell others about us and we in turn will keep providing you with the helpful content you have rightfully come to expect from us. And let’s see where our journey over the next 30 years, and more, takes us.

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Three decades! Time flies when we are having fun! Congrats from Jan Kestle.

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or three decades DM Magazine has been the voice of our evolving industry. Spanning the eras from direct mail to today’s evidence-driven decision making, the journal has provided news, thought leadership and examples of best practice for marketers and analysts alike. Moving with the times, Lloydmedia, its publisher has added a digital version, produced topic-related journals and hosted conferences for practitioners to share views and experiences. I personally salute the work spearheaded by Steve and later supported by Mark and his team. From my days at Compusearch, through the start-up and growth of Environics Analytics, we have supported DM Magazine as an advertiser and contributor. There is no other publication in Canada that

focuses on the range of relevant issues and offers expertise provided by industry leading experts while commanding a diverse audience from a variety of industries. Looking back over the years, DM Magazine was the platform through which PSYTE and MarketMath were launched by Compusearch in the ’90s, Environics Analytics’ PRIZM and ENVISION in the 2000s and, most recently, Mobility Analytics and CannabisInsights: truly analytics products for a new era. Congratulations to the entire DM Magazine team on this anniversary. Thank you for being there for our industry. We at Environics Analytics look forward to continuing to work together for another 30 years! Thank you and very best regards, Jan

R


LETTER TO THE EDITOR: THIRTY YEARS OF DIRECT MARKETING, SAME BUT DIFFERENT In celebration of Lloydmedia Publishing’s outstanding contribution to the world of everything DIRECT hats off to the Direct Marketing Magazine on this its 30th Anniversary. Where will the next 30 years of direct marketing find us? I believe taking us there will be three words: same but different. From the first advertiser the Town Crier to our first stamp and beyond have things really changed? Are we still following the basic rules and 101’s of direct marketing regardless of the channel or mechanism in which it was delivered? The Province of Canada began issuing stamps on April 23, 1851 pictured below. Designed by Sir Sandford Fleming, the three pence depicted a beaver in an oval frame and is considered the first Canadian postage stamp versus our definitive permanent stamp of today. Also featured below is the first mail order catalogue from the Timothy Eaton Company in 1942. Yes I say, same but different.

At the heart of direct marketing remains the creative, the offer, and the data. We can argue until the cows come home which order they should be in. Yet the real magic happens when all three come together. The “Father of Advertising”, David Ogilvy, once said: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” Tens of decades later this still holds true. Write a confusing headline and the reader will not continue reading your offer. Author, speaker and business leader Kary Oberbrunner states it today as: “Clarity attracts and confusion repels”. The challenge today still remains: how much copy or creative can be removed and still mean the same thing? Today how clearly you can distinguish and define: why the customer needs you, what the cost is if the customer does not use you and how will the customer’s lives be enriched or made easier is ultimately what will set you apart and equate to a larger market share. Leo Burnett, who created some of the most memorable brand images, like the Jolly Green Giant, quotes: “Advertising says to people, ‘Here’s what we’ve got. Here’s what it will do for you. Here’s how to get it.” At the root of it all remains the data which comes from the research. Data remains king and unless it is classified and organized will remain ineffective. In addition, if it is not acted upon it remains useless.

Who would have thought a Gallup poll researcher and trainee at Canada’s ultra-top-secret Camp X would make one of the best advertisers of our time? But given his background maybe that’s why. David Ogilvy felt that “Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals”. As well he thought: “If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.” It goes with his thinking that you should not address the readers in unison but address them as they are alone, and you are writing to one individual at a time. The customer as the hero Lester Wunderman, who is considered by many as “the father of direct marketing” agrees with this logic when he quotes: “You are what you know and the consumer, not the product must be the hero.” David Broudy and Frank Romano also echoes this in their paper An Investigation: Direct Mail Responses Based on Color, Personalization, Database, and Other Factors, published in 1999, cited by John Sisson, president, the Wilde Agency in The Power of Personalization online paper. It presented some of the powerful statistics of the one to one world. Here’s how these strategies improved response rates, demonstrating the value of treating the individual consumer as the hero of the marketing story: • • • •

Personalizing the mailers with recipients’ names (44%); Printing a piece in full colour, versus black and white (45%); Combining full-color printing and basic name personalization (135%); and Integrating database information about the recipients such as purchase histories into the offers (500%-plus).

Kary Oberbrunner mentions: “selling is serving and marketing is story telling” and for Data Direct for close to four decades this rings true. We are a customer service bureau with the root word serve as part of what we do since 1994. Our customers remain our “Caregivers” a phrase we coined. We will never know what we do not ask but more importantly if you do ask will you respect the answer you are given. The channels involved may grow, change or expand, and lead times and speed to market will continue to shorten but direct marketing will remain driven by the customer and we remember they are forever the hero of the story. Open, willing, ready to serve you same but different. Happy to impart knowledge with dignity and respect. Connect with me @ 905-564-0150 ext. 108 or email debbie@datadirect.ca

Cheerleader People, Brand and World President Data Direct Debbie Major

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YEARS OF PUBLISHING

Direct marketing: it’s personal By Blair Cameron

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Blair Cameron is president of AIR MILES

(www.airmiles.ca).

October 2018

ince its inception in 1992, identifying, understanding and creating meaningful relationships has been core to the success of the AIR MILES Reward Program. When we first launched this uniquely Canadian coalition of more than 200 retail and service partners, direct marketing was defined by direct mail and largely one-way consumer engagement. However, over the last two decades, the exponential pace of changing technology and subsequent evolution of marketing has enabled brands to facilitate 1:1 interactions and two-way engagement with consumers across all touchpoints. A modern marketing strategy must adopt a customer-centric approach that pushes to get more out of direct marketing programmes and generate stronger consumer engagement: and ultimately, loyalty. Direct marketing provides brands the ability to present timely, curated messages and offers to individuals in near real time across countless digital channels. Today’s consumers are more educated and

savvier than ever before, they are heavily marketed to and are inundated with offers that many simply ignore or dismiss if they don’t believe there is real value exchange for their data. This is part of the shift from brands talking to their customers to their customers having a voice in the conversation: it’s now an ongoing, two-way dialogue. Moving forward, all businesses—not just coalition loyalty programmes—need to leverage new technologies and enable data to determine that the right messages reach the right consumers at the right time. Direct marketing can be the link that connects online and offline: supporting the seamless experience that consumers are now demanding. It is no longer good enough to simply meet and deliver the value exchange that consumers have come to expect. Using customer data to deliver truly meaningful experiences which in turn drive tangible financial results for your business will determine the true effectiveness of direct marketing long into the future.

DMN.ca ❰


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YEARS OF PUBLISHING

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The evolution of relationship marketing By Stephen Shaw

T

Stephen Shaw is the chief strategy officer of Kenna, a marketing solutions provider specializing in customer management. He can be reached via e-mail at sshaw@kenna.ca.

hirty years ago, the term relationship marketing quietly slipped into the business lexicon. At the time marketers were grappling with the early stages of market “demassification”, forcing them to work much harder to reach a mass audience. Meanwhile the introduction of marketing automation systems promised to make addressable media a more affordable option for targeting niche segments. The principles and practices championed by the leading relationship marketing proponents of the time began to resonate with the broader marketing community. Those ideas have since become the bedrock of a new marketing model just beginning to coalesce around the idea of integrated customer management. The progression from those early years of direct and database marketing to today’s world of multi-channel real-time engagement forms a long evolutionary arc, extending from the early 1980s. Through the passage of time, technology has been the catalyst for change: from the proliferation of home PCs in the ’80s to the arrival of the web browser in the ’90s to the mass adoption of the smartphone in the past decade. While historical antecedents often reveal themselves messily, one period bleeding into another, there are at least three discernible eras in the history of relationship marketing, each marked by a technology-related tipping point, which DM Magazine has chronicled ever since it was launched in 1988. 1. The era of direct and database marketing (1989-1999). The paycheque of most marketers was still tied to the pursuit of sales. Yet mass advertising was already in slow decline, as audiences had begun to splinter due to media fragmentation. The burning question on marketers’ minds: how to make the best use of their media budgets. In their provocative book

❱ DMN.ca

MaxiMarketing, direct marketing luminaries Stan Rapp and Tom Collins argued for more accountable marketing, principally by fostering “an ongoing relationship with the customer after the first sale by encouraging additional purchases or continued loyalty.” Five years later, in 1993, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers echoed that thinking in their bestseller, The One-to-One Future, making the concept of “one-to-one” marketing the buzzword of the decade. Their prophetic views popularized relationship marketing as a management approach. Leading academics like Jagdish Sheth contributed to the movement, giving it a scholarly anchor, supported by Fred Reichheld’s oft-quoted research showing the correlation of loyalty to profitability in The Loyalty Effect, published in 1996. By the end of the 1990s relationship marketing had gained legitimacy as a practice area, worthy of academic study. Tipping Point: marketing’s adoption of affordable customer database systems. 2. The era of customer relationship management (2000-2010). As the new millennium dawned, a rising chorus of contrarian voices could be heard, led by digital utopians, who scoffed at old school methods of brand persuasion. They called for a more consensual relationship with customers: “Permission marketing” was what Seth Godin called it. Eventually they were proven right, but initially the Internet was treated by marketers as a lower caste media channel. Meanwhile, the next generation of direct marketers had come along, schooled in the use of CRM data to segment customers, and they argued just as vigorously for more personalized marketing which addressed individual needs and preferences. Widespread use of e-mail to reach customers began to eclipse direct

October 2018


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YEARS OF PUBLISHING mail as the preferred communication channel. The convergence of CRM and web-based interactivity meant that marketers now had the tools to engage customers in a two-way dialogue. But most marketers—even those expert in CRM—had a tough time resisting the urge to push out brand messages indiscriminately. And it took a while before CRM could shake off its tarnished image from the mid-1990s, when many early system implementations failed due to a combination of inadequate systems integration, lack of process change and cultural resistance, particularly amongst sales people. Tipping Point: the transition to Web 2.0 and the Social Web. 3. The era of customer experience management (2010 - 2017). At the start of this current era most businesses struggled to keep up with the pace of digital transformation. Slow to embrace interactive

marketing as a grown-up discipline, brand marketers were reluctant to yank dollars out of conventional paid media, afraid to dilute their awareness-building efforts. But the tectonic shift in customer behaviour simply could not be ignored: people no longer needed a brand to tell them what product to buy or where to find it. They just wanted a better experience. All that money spent interrupting people was seeing a diminishing return. Audiences were paying less attention, distracted by their multiple digital devices. The brand differentiator was now the ease and memorability of the customer experience. As the lights began to flicker in print publishing and broadcast media, brand-building dollars began to surge into digital media, hoping to find people willing to click. Now, as the decade draws to a close, even the most lavish ad spenders (like P&G) are pulling back, seeing “one-to-one marketing at scale” as their salvation. The Age of the Customer had officially arrived.

Tipping Point: the smartphone revolution and the proliferation of digital devices. The future: integrated customer management (2018 -). Over the next few years artificial intelligence will have a climate-changing impact on marketing, helping to alleviate the burden and complexity of managing real-time interactions across multiple channels and devices. But first marketers must solve the riddle of the times: how do they encourage an open relationship with customers when the spectre of data piracy hangs over everyone? Just consider the recent Facebook data breach when 50 million profiles were hijacked. And as long as marketers are still being paid to persuade, not to befriend, they will just give lip service to the idea of relationship marketing. One thing for sure: the pace of change is about to pick up speed, pressuring all marketers to pivot toward a customer-first model.

The evolution of data science By Richard Boire

I

Richard Boire is senior vice president, Environics Analytics.

t’s almost impossible to quantify the amount of data generated daily. You have transaction data, online files, social media data and, more recently, mobility data: the list goes on. Our ability to track and store all of this information opens up great opportunities, but the real challenge is making sense of it all. That task has fallen to data scientists: who have endeavoured to keep pace. This evolution has moved from simple business rules to segmentation systems and to models to answer specific questions. More recently, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have been added to the data scientist’s toolbox to boost the predictive power of data. But rather than replacing one approach with another, each new advancement builds and complements the earlier system. So, to understand where data science is today and how it’s being applied to things like direct marketing, it helps to understand how we got here. The early days The field of data science can be traced back to the early 1950s with the advent of credit card products, as issuers needed effective ways to assess potential loss at an individual customer level. Clearly, the traditional manual one-onone approach of assessing credit risk was no longer sufficient. Organizations such as Fair Isaacs (FICO) emerged in order to meet this demand. This firm was the first to process individual customer records by computer, albeit a rudimentary one, while applying advanced statistical techniques to assess the level of risk for a given

October 2018

customer. These statistical techniques are still in use today. Direct marketing was the next major industry to take this approach. In the late 1960s, direct marketing techniques tended to focus on the acquisition of lists that would produce a higher volume or likelihood of response. It wasn’t until the 1990s that data scientists started using exhibited behaviours to infer the potential behaviour of current or prospective customers. In the early days, one-to-one marketing was viewed as being a more elite business strategy for larger organizations that had the resources to fund and perform the necessary work. With dramatic decreases in the cost of storage and computing power today organizations of all sizes can now target messages to customers at a much lower cost of entry. Still, large companies like Netflix and Amazon continue to push the envelope. Netflix, for that matter, began as a direct mail organization sending and receiving movies on DVDs to customers through the mail. Reengineering its business towards digital has reaped tremendous profits, but its success was based on what it had learned

“You don’t look a day over 29”

Happy 30th Anniversary Direct Marketing Magazine Your friends at Cover-All & CMS 416-752-8100 • www.cover-all.ca

DMN.ca ❰


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YEARS OF PUBLISHING as a direct mail company. At the beginning of my career in the 1980s, I was fortunate to work for leading edge pioneers like Reader’s Digest and American Express. In those days, mainframe computers were the only technology available to process data. Unlike the compact size of today’s laptops and mobile devices, mainframe computers had to be stored in large separate offices. Users would submit their computer programmes or “jobs” from terminals to the mainframe, which was a very slow process. In many cases, most “jobs” ran overnight, which meant starting from scratch and waiting another day to see the results if you made an error. Data science and adaptation This slow process meant testing and learning from different approaches, especially since people like me were learning the concepts of data science on the fly and simultaneously trying to acquire the requisite computer programming skills. But data scientists came up with an innovative way to deal with this challenge. To experiment more and generate results faster we started using smaller volumes of data. Instead of processing all the data, we randomly sampled a small percentage. Despite using a fraction of the data, the random selection process of the new smaller dataset was still representative of the larger files. Random sampling of data was used in virtually all projects, thereby allowing much higher and quicker levels of learning alongside quicker delivery of solutions. The PC environment The advent of the personal computer (PC) overcame some of these technological barriers of dealing with larger volumes of data in a timely manner. Data could now be stored directly on a PC. But storage issues meant random sampling was still necessary. It wasn’t until the 1990s and early 2000s that computer storage and processing power enabled practitioners to

develop models using millions of records. The notion of random samples and sample size appeared poised to become a relic of the past, but access to more data and more computing power created new challenges. Despite having access to more data than ever, there are still factors that influence the way it’s used. For example, assessing the likelihood to respond to a credit product may only require quarterly updates, while predicting the likelihood of an airplane machine defect would require real-time data. In our world of consumer marketing, updated information at reasonable periodic intervals has been very effective in building data science solutions. But adding greater volumes of data and integrating more updates can add costs and ultimately slow the process down: and for little gain. Yet, the marketing landscape is evolving as marketers consider the use of push-type campaigns where the emphasis on customer experience represents the latest marketing approach in how marketers can better engage consumers in real-time. With mobile technology, push-type campaigns can tailor their communications on the existing situation of the consumer. But it begins with data. Big Data and AI Big Data and AI have been the game changers in allowing marketers to better enhance this overall customer experience. Extremely large volumes of data can be processed quickly. For example, marketing chat boxes can communicate directly with customers given their interest in a product. But these chat boxes are becoming more sophisticated as some organizations can now leverage historical customer data, thereby allowing the use of machine learning and/or AI to steer the conversation. Meanwhile, marketing offers and communications via mobile phones can now account for customers’ locations. At the same

time, customers’ prior activities can all be analyzed once again through the use of machine learning techniques, thereby enabling even better customer experiences. The need for privacy One outcome of all the increased capabilities is the need for data governance as the growing use of data becomes a reality for virtually all businesses. Organizations need to both protect customer data as well as respect the right to privacy concerning this data. Data science practitioners need to be increasingly aware of what data they are using given what we have observed in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. Practitioners should adopt the culture and philosophy of analyzing data that will be of service to not only corporations but to consumers as well: while respecting the rights of consumers to opt-in to the use of their data as a tool for improved product delivery Evolution rooted in history One might infer that with all these changes, the data science discipline is undergoing huge disruptive changes. In some ways it is, but the technological information still adheres to the processes developed decades ago. The real changes are the ability to execute tasks in a quicker and much more automated manner. Automation and speed are the expected prerequisites within the new paradigm. Yet, practitioners still need to adopt the same data science rigor that has been used for decades. Without this data science foundation, tools and technologies are sometimes looked as solutions instead of enablers of those solutions. In this brave new world of information, data science must be a core business discipline where the emphasis focuses on developing the right data science team rather than on tools and technologies.

Contact centres: looking back and looking forward By Colin Taylor

D Colin Taylor is CEO and chief chaos officer, The Taylor Reach Group (www.thetaylorreachgroup.com). ❱ DMN.ca

M Magazine is celebrating 30 years. Wow! 1988 sounds like eons ago but somehow at the same time it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago either. In 1988, I was much younger, thinner with less grey and more hair than today. The contact centre industry was different as well. For starters it wasn’t called the contact centre industry, but rather the telemarketing industry and we differentiated between inbound and outbound telemarketing. The change to contact centres didn’t arrive until the early 2000s: before that we were the call centre industry starting in the mid-1990s. The name isn’t the only way the industry has

changed. In 1988 I was working at CPM Hull Colvey (now there’s a name from the past) and we had just replaced our “call director” phone system for a Nortel SL1 (more names from the past). The entire industry was embarking on big technological changes, with paper lists and hand-written forms being replaced by computers. In ’88, I think, we had only moved to Intel 286 PCs the year prior. Other changes included moving from handsets (the ones with the shoulder cradles) to headsets. As computerization made inroads we began to see a need for typing skills, long before keyboarding was thought of and in ’88 it began to show up on our new October 2018


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YEARS OF PUBLISHING hire applications. In ’88 we also implemented our first IVR system and used it to deliver a “joke of the day” phone number that supported the launch of Moosehead beer in Ontario. In previous years we had employed endless loop cassette tapes to deliver programmes such as the Santa Claus Hotline for Canada Post. There were no sales force automation (SFA) software or customer relationship management (CRM) platforms back then. There were no predictive dialers in place, so all outbound calls had to be manually dialled. There was no voice mail and very few answering machines so even though the process was manual the completion rates were significantly higher than we see

today. There was also no Internet, no cloud and no interactive web chat. Cell phones had only been introduced three years earlier in Canada, so few people had one. And those that did, used them only for phone calls as there was no SMS/ text capabilities. Yes, it was the dark ages. But we did have Direct Marketing News (DMN) and in each issue we could read about industry news for direct marketing and telemarketing, or call centres or contact centres. In the pages of the magazine we could see all the industry technological and operational changes unfold before our eyes. Having journeyed down memory lane, I retract my earlier comment…it was eons ago and

feels like it too. But no industry remains static. As we look to a future with chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI), intelligent virtual agents and virtual assistants that increasingly automates simple and easy tasks, and to a shifting focus toward the Customer Experience, we can watch the contact centre worker become the knowledge worker. One who solves complex problems and resolves customer issues, because complex is all that is left once all of the simple, transactional and easy tasks are automated. And I am sure we will have DMN, which has become DM Magazine, along for the journey, informing, sharing and keeping us connected to this industry for another 30 years.

Relation1’s François Gaumond on 30 years of personalization

C

ustomer personalization has been and continues to be the central element of the direct marketing story. DM Magazine recently interviewed François Gaumond, who is vice president, consulting services for Relation1 (www.relation1.com), which provides personalized marketing solutions. DM Magazine (DM): Outline the evolution of customer personalization over the past 30 years

François Gaumond is vice president, consulting services for Relation1 (www.relation1.com).

October 2018

Francois Gaumond (FG): Personalization has been around as a concept forever, starting with your local storekeeper who remembered your name, what you bought and your favourite past time. The issue is that this model is not scalable: it works only when you have a small shop with key employees that stay around for a while and who can keep notes and/or remembers each customer. Today, in a fast growing environment with a lot of employee turnover and with high volumes of interactions and transactions it’s impossible to achieve that kind of personalization without the use of technology. What marketers have been doing is to segment people and try to bucket them into groups with shared attributes and then communicate and interact with them based on that. But by doing so we lost that personal connection, the real understanding of the person itself and started to talk to the average. But no one is the average. Today, we have even more information that the storekeeper used to have. We can track every customer interaction and really understand each of them and recognize what they like and what they don’t, so we can remove the segments and be able to scale that personal touch. As this personalized shopping experience evolved to broader scale marketing, it became more commonly referred to as 1:1 marketing. Fast forward 30 years, and what’s old is new again. Today, 1:1 marketing, now commonly referred to as personalization, is powered by the enormous amounts of data and the plethora of

tools, like those using artificial intelligence (AI) we have to collect, analyze and turn it into insights we can use to better serve customers. So we can serve each one with the proper offer, content or product on the channel that they prefer depending the context. The context is influencing what will be served up. As an example, someone walking into a store would not be in the same context as someone online at home, so the offer should be different.

DM:

In the pantheon of marketing methods where is personalization and how do you see it changing?

FG:

What we all strive for as brands and marketers is replicating the individualized experience that comes so naturally at your neighbourhood merchant, at scale. With so many touchpoints and customers driving the interactions they want to have with brands today, brands need to gather the various crumbs their customers leave in order to not only understand what they need right now, but also anticipate what they might want next. That’s a monumental shift from printing a customer’s name on a flyer. The future of personalization will include a great orchestration across all the channels, including the store experience. Where the store associates would have access to the same information in order to let them be smarter when interacting with the customers on a daily basis.

DM: FG:

What are the opportunities but also the challenges you see with personalization?

There’s still lots of untapped opportunity, but it’s all about changing the way companies re-think their customer engagements across all the touchpoints and interactions. The shift to personalization comes with a great payoff, namely client satisfaction and engagement that leads to DMN.ca ❰


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YEARS OF PUBLISHING sales lift. We see a lift between 5%-10% when companies start to personalize their customer engagements. A big challenge we see with many clients is step number one, which is getting a vision for personalization. What is good personalization differs from one brand to another, so it’s key to start with the vision and the strategy and align the entire organization around it. There’s a cultural shift that needs to happen, as we will not market and communicate the same way. As no one is receiving the same offer, it’s no longer about what’s on the front page of the flyer or these vendor-funded promotions that needs to be pushed to everyone. Instead it is what is relevant for each individual person, meaning that we need to accept that there’s less human control and more AI decisioning. The machine is determining within certain parameters what’s good for every customer in the context the person is.

Then step number two which is getting companies’ data silos aggregated into single views of their customers. But bringing the data together and making sense of what they already have is the biggest challenge. There are many disparate databases and systems each built with a specific purpose, structure for capturing information and many other complexities. And for many marketers, data and technology are outside their scope of control. One of the biggest values we add for our clients is creating a forum across these various functions to align the company’s vision and help them create a roadmap to bring their vision to reality. In order to do that we follow a four step process: (1) Define the strategy and vision for personalization, (2) redefine the customers interactions, (3) assessing the technology and the operations and finally (4) prioritizing all the initiatives.

DM: FG:

Where do you see personalization going in the future?

AI is certainly already a component that’s helping drive personalization. At Relation1, our R1.ai platform uses AI for applications like product recommendations. For the marketing executive, R1.ai powers dashboards that help them make faster decisions. AI will only grow in its importance and usage as businesses become more comfortable with the capabilities and become more creative around how it can be applied in all channels, including emerging ones like voice. Personalization at its core is about experiences that are unique to each individual. The more a customer interacts with a brand, the more they expect their interactions to be relevant, meaningful and delightful. Delivering on this customer expectation is no longer a niceto-have. The tools and the know-how exist, all brands need now is the will to make it happen.

A strong history and a bright future: direct marketing in Canada By John Wiltshire

O

John Wiltshire is president and CEO, Canadian

Marketing Association (www.the-cma.org).

❱ DMN.ca

n the 30th anniversary of DM Magazine, I find myself reflecting on the history and the future of direct marketing. The Canadian Marketing Association’s direct marketing roots run deep. In 1967, the Canadian chapter of the American Direct Marketing Association broke away to form its own national entity, the Canadian Mail Marketing Association. From there, as more media channels were employed and the lines between marketing disciplines and channels blurred, direct marketing broadened and fostered new approaches, tactics and strategies. I fondly remember the early days of direct marketing. At the time, I was working on Bay Street for a financial services company that was an early and successful adopter of direct mail as a tactic for customer acquisition. List management and selecting the right premiums and incentives were the tricks of the trade back then. If memory serves me correctly, there was no better incentive than a power drill to get people to open a savings account. But this was also the era where segmentation, control groups and “lift” came into being. It was when we all sharpened our ability to draw a direct line between revenue and marketing efforts. Return on investment was a whole lot more than an educated guess. On the heels of these early refinements came a steady stream of advancements, new strategies and transitioning ways of doing business in the marketing world. It seemed like everything we thought we knew had changed or was set for change.

Not only did direct marketing survive the rush forward, it has thrived. It is now a mix of email, text, social, yes still mail and, to a lesser extent, phone-based. At the core of it all is data: and lots of it. And attached to all that data are sophisticated consumers who don’t want to be spammed and who are protective of their privacy. Today’s demands on direct marketers are clear and unforgiving. Be personable but don’t be overly familiar. Be timely without being annoying or repetitive. I don’t want to see online ads for ironing boards for three months after I buy an ironing board. But despite a continually evolving environment, small dispersed audiences and a general decline in consumers’ receptiveness to sales agents, personalized direct marketing has a strong future. Technology will continue to enable more precise and effective consumer contact at intent-rich moments: when consumers are seeking information related to purchasing decisions. While the tools may have changed, the basics of direct marketing hold true. We still aim to send the right message to the right person at the right time. Relevance and timeliness continue to be key drivers of consumer engagement, as do those age-old pillars of brevity and clarity. I have no doubt the road ahead will be full of rewarding and challenging twists and turns. And we are fortunate to have a publication like DM Magazine to host and encourage our discussions, our debates and our mutual progress. Congratulations to the magazine on this significant milestone, and here’s to your strong and bright future. October 2018



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Invest in support to grow loyalty W

Tyler Koblasa is CEO, CloudApp (www.getcloudapp.com). CloudApp is an all-in-one visual sharing platform that enables recording, hosting and sharing short videos, GIFs, images and visuals to make team conversations faster and more succinct.

hen interactive voice response (IVR) first hit the customer support scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it seemed like a service provider’s dream come true. No longer was a human representative needed for each step of the support process. Instead, customers could seamlessly guide themselves through a series of prompts to get personalized help, which was often outsourced to a contact centre in another country. The other shoe dropped on IVR quickly, as anyone who’s ever yelled “OPERATOR” at a phone bot knows all too well. It turns out that humans wanted, and still want, to interact with other humans to solve problems. An Accenture study found 83% of U.S. consumers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues1. Customers who aren’t getting the service they need have no reason to remain loyal. A plethora of provider options now exist for utilities, cable/Internet and cell phones. Fast-growing companies that aren’t aware of this are vulnerable to ruining customer relationships by forming dangerous habits, such as over-automating or losing personal touches. And with the cost of customers switching providers due to poor service estimated at $1.6 trillion according to Accenture2, it’s not a mistake they can afford to make. But customer service tech exists for a reason and can work hand-in-hand with human interaction. By following this roadmap, providers can avoid some service-related growing pains.

Customers who aren’t getting the service they need have no reason to remain loyal. Support as an investment Quality customer support starts with the right mindset. In the past decade providers thought about support mostly from a cost-reduction standpoint. Service just wasn’t a priority and customers knew it. But you could be losing out on a multitude of future business by alienating even one customer. Providers are gradually getting the message that effective support generates profits. We’ve seen the percentage of organizations devoted to customer support steadily increase. For good reason. Every touch you have with an end user is a chance to affect the customer satisfaction rating. What someone says about your company i.e. word of mouth is the best driver of future clients. ❱ DMN.ca

Knowing your customers’ technology comfort levels For B2B clients with a deeper knowledge of data and technology, interacting with chatbots to answer straightforward questions might be a realistic solution. It can be a good starting point for consumers as well; service providers can’t get on chat sessions with every single user of $10 widgets. But you also don’t want those users to get frustrated by digging around online to self-solve problems. Screen sharing and video technologies can help customers feel like they’re in the same room as a support technician who’s more sympathetic to their problems than a faceless box. For example, a user struggling with Zoom conference technology can call a help line, but they can also launch a video chat session with a live human. Rather than Agent XYZ, you have Judy or Bob. Now there’s a personal relationship where you’re talking with Bob at Zoom, who can potentially record your screen and see everything in real time. Team growth doesn’t mean larger footprints In an era of home offices and co-working spaces, growing companies are finding less need to supply every employee with a permanent desk. Customer service departments are capitalizing on this change; for example, I’ve visited car rental kiosks that feature representatives sitting in front of blue screens modified to fit the environment. These video options offer an elastic ability to deploy more agents from anywhere. At the same time there’s comfort in knowing an agent is sitting at a normal desk among their co-workers. As echo and background cancellation improve, there’s less reason to worry about distractions in a shared environment and providing customers a peek inside a provider’s office can make them feel more connected to the company. Scale security and support As the scope of technology and number of places to store information increases, including cloud-based smart home devices, so too will attacks on personal information. And while 92% of consumers say it’s extremely important that companies protect the privacy of their personal information, it’s something no one quite knows how to predict or define in practice3. This is a danger that’s at the forefront of CloudApp’s future thinking. Screen recording and video recording and screenshots allow CloudApp representatives to quickly create visual content, but sensitive information is potentially at play. We solve for this by running artificial intelligence (AI) security applications to ensure secure information isn’t being stored while building searchable video libraries. Having strong security that evolves with the threats gives customers peace of mind that helps organizations retain and grow their loyalty. 1 Accenture, “U.S. Companies Losing Customers As Consumers Demand More Human Interaction, Accenture Strategy Study Finds,” press release, March 23, 2016. 2 Accenture, “Human Interaction”, ibid. 3 Accenture, “Human Interaction”, ibid.

October 2018