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SAS World Headquarters

The idea of customer centricity in marketing is as "old as dirt" - it's probably been around as long as people have been interested in buying or selling things to each other. So why are we still talking about it, and why is it so seemingly elusive for some organizations?

The short answer is that it's just not that simple. Markets, buying processes and even the products themselves have become so complex, that sometimes the customer can get lost in the shuffle, so fortunately we have marketing analytics to get us back on track.

Key themes in today's quest for customer centricity and how marketing analytics plays a role emerged from the buzz at our most recent "Customer Intelligence Customer Connection" event. It's a special annual event where we host our Customer Intelligence customers at SAS Headquarters for a few days of interactions with thought leaders, SAS experts and other customers.

Real-time inbound processing
One recurring theme was that real-time, inbound processing has come of age. Organizations are recognizing that contact center engagements in real-time on the phone or via chat are as important as the traditional view of customers as outbound targets from the marketing deparment. What bodes well for that trend is that analytically-driven real-time decisioning has also come of age to enable the contact center to be relevant in real time - and take another step toward customer centricity.

The evolution of social channels
Another theme is that social media channels are not just for customer service or brand analytics - they are increasingly used also as marketing and information sharing channels as well. And as organizations engaged in social media make this evolution, it becomes increasingly important for them to link their social data with other forms of customer data. The customer sees you as one organization no matter the channel, so for true customer centricity, it's important to regard them accordingly.

Conversation Marketing
Finally, there was much talk about the concept of the product purchase lifecycle and "conversation marketing." The idea is that customers spend more time than ever researching purchases online - whether they buy online or in a store. So it's not simply about omni-channel retailing, but thinking about customer communications as a conversation. Marketers can no longer think in terms of simple outbound offers or inbound messages, instead thinking of communications as an entire conversation with individual customers. The "conversation" means helping with their research phase, their purchase phase, and even their follow-up support phase.  The key to have the "conversation" is both multichannel integration and also a timing aspect in terms of waiting between messages and being attuned to potential lulls, or lack of interactions, and redirecting based on marketing analytics for profiling and segmentation.

So how do marketing analytics impact customer centricity in your organization? Share your perspectives with a comment, or join us at this year's Customer Intelligence Customer Connection - details coming soon!

by John Balla

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