Tuesday 2¢: Customer Engagement is not a Website

The next wave of customer engagement is not about how wonderfully personalized our websites are, it’s going to be more than that. In this Tuesday 2¢ I contend that we need to learn the lessons of personalization and truly engage our consumers on the channel of their choice…

Personalization has a bad rap right now, marketing has shot itself in the collective foot with privacy, but when you chat to consumers about what they think of personalization, to share their stories the complaint isn’t about the abuse of privacy, it’s about the experience.

Consumers are now driven by convenience, the reason why those related items, “other people who bought this also bought this” are so prevalent in e-commerce is because they work. It is convenient for us to find products in this way.

When this goes wrong, people notice, everyone has a funny story about what Amazon has recommended to them. The popular lament is that they should know better.

In its 20 years of reducing our high streets to a parade of charity shops and barbers, through product recommendations, funny or otherwise, the e-commerce experience itself has not changed so much, but it’s been a revolution, disrupting the product supply chain, requiring many companies to fundamentally change (or die) in that time.

Today, the drive is to engage the consumer, to create a conversation, make it more convenient for them to find stuff without searching and to get service. You’ve seen the bots, it’s conversation marketing and selling – but a bot on your website doesn’t help if your consumer prefers What’s App.

As a consequence, in the same way that the automation in the act of commerce liberated itself from its cage of the opening hours of bricks and mortar, consumer communication is making a gasp for freedom from the constraints of switchboard opening hours, to email, chat, SMS, WhatsApp, social, whatever the consumer has to hand, whenever they feel like transacting.

Organizations that needed to optimize the back-end product supply chain and automate the web-based experience to survive, have a similar challenge with orchestrating and automating consumer contact across all these different sources.

Orchestrating a conversation that has to be consistent across all these channels, using the same data, the call centre knowing what your online behaviour means, or that the social account knows that you are sitting on one of their planes right now.

And each interaction has its own SLA in the consumers mind, if they send you an email you’ve got time to reply, if they tweet your name, you need to react instantly, not with a platitude from the social media marketing team, but from someone who can fix the problem or make the transaction happen.

This is customer engagement.