Making the Case for Preference Management
Rob Tate, PossibleNOW | February 25, 2015

According to a recent Accenture survey, more than 70 percent of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant1. This should come as no surprise to anyone leading an enterprise-level company in the modern age. In survey after survey, study after study, consumers around the globe are demanding personalization, privacy and the power to control the conversation with the brands that serve them.

For many CMOs and CTOs, the challenge is not in proving or establishing the need to address privacy, personalization and increasing demands for interaction. Rather, the challenge lies in establishing the best method for achieving success.

The dilemma is further complicated by language used to define the relationship between consumer and company in the digital age. The line between customer engagement and customer experience is blurry at best, and neither priority holds a clear mandate over traditional corporate structure. Is the marketing department in charge of engagement? Is customer service in charge of experience? Is IT shared by both groups or managed according to an entirely separate structure and vision?

A 2013 Oracle survey of more than 1,300 senior executives found that 97 percent agree that “customer experience” is critical to success and 93 percent indicated it was a top-three priority over the next two years. Yet fewer than 40 percent had so-called customer experience initiatives in progress and just 20 percent of those that did described them as sophisticated2.

Why? The goal is too large, too vague and involves too many moving parts. The senior executives surveyed by Oracle know they need to listen to customers and engage them in meaningful, profitable relationships. But they haven’t figured out how to break customer experience or engagement down into actionable, pieces. Without a concrete plan, it becomes almost impossible to earn approval from IT, legal, investor relations or other stakeholders for many worthwhile initiatives.

The best starting point for an enterprise is preference management: the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, channel preference and frequency of communication. Executed correctly, a robust preference management program can power the personalization, privacy and interactivity modern consumers demand. A preference management initiative is a tangible project with a specific action plan and set of goals to improve both experience and engagement.

The following pages will demonstrate how preference management can be defined to internal decision-makers, framed for budgeting, communicated to collaborating stakeholders and ultimately approved for action.

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