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When does customer engagement end?

Adhering to the belief that “customer is king” means more than providing top-notch frontline customer service today. It is not simply about delivering the most innovative products or services anymore.

In an era where discerning customers are spoiled for choice, tactics such as discounts and price wars are also no longer a long-term solution for customer acquisition and retention. Instead, building long-lasting and profitable relationships is undeniably vital to business success today. Yet, how many companies are doing so meaningfully and effectively?

Why engage?

A well-engaged customer does not just bring about retention and revenue. With the right tools and insights to create personal and relevant experiences for your customers, there is the potential to turn them into brand advocates, creating acquisition and new sales from their word-of- mouth testimonies.

While enterprises, online or offline with customer facing businesses, such as retail, financial institutions, credit card companies, and telcos, have been trying to improve their customer engagement strategies, they are still not getting it quite right.

Many are focusing on building their entire marketing strategy around customer acquisition, and are not considering what happens after getting their business. Customers are only engaged once or twice a month when their bills are due. In this way, customers are treated more like a commodity rather than an asset, and companies run the risk of losing them easily amidst increased competition, pushing up the cost of acquisition.

What companies need is a cost-effective, innovative way to understand and engage their customers through an expanding array of touchpoints and learn to reward them intelligently. Customer engagement is no longer a one-off experience, but an ongoing dialogue to improve customer loyalty, which will in turn generate higher customer spend.

Data management in an omnichannel world

According to McKinsey, a retailer making full use of customer data could increase its operating margin by more than 60%. The challenge is figuring out the best way to leverage this data to deliver the right content, at the right time, in the right location to the most relevant end-users.

With the deluge of customer data generated across multiple mobile channels and devices today, many companies find themselves struggling to find the right platform to capture ‘relevant data’. In fact, mobile data traffic is expected to grow by 57% globally between 2014 and 2019, reaching 24.3 exabytes per month by 2019 (according to Cisco).

In order to service customers cost-effectively and create a meaningful experience for them, intelligent data analytics in a Single Customer View (SCV) is paramount in this new era of customer engagement. To achieve a single, real-time view of consumers across channels for the ability to make timely marketing decisions and develop relevant user experiences, marketing and IT must collaborate to choose a dynamic customer management database that enables real-time analysis and effective data-driven decisions.

Data to insights to revenue

With the rising mobile penetration rate in Asia today, mobile becomes a key agent for enabling proactive acquisition and customer engagement. The sensors and data pipes built into a modern phone permit a whole new level of awareness and richness that was simply not available before. A customer’s journey now starts the moment the mobile phone is switched on.

In this new world, merchants have the opportunity to engage the customer using innovative solutions. Using loyalty apps and the various customer engagement platforms allows businesses to leverage predictive analytics, geolocalisation or proximity features to direct a customer’s focus to selected merchants within an area to influence buying decisions.

Imagine this: An electronics store looking to acquire and convert sales can easily enable “push notification” so when an ex-customer walks into a particular shopping mall, they are promptly informed on their mobile of a today-only promotion to purchase a camera, where the acquired loyalty points can also be redeemed for a high-quality tripod. They are able to do so by using data, such as history of the users’ transactional and non-transactional behavior, intelligently.

Effective customer engagement is a win-win situation for consumers and businesses. On one hand, the customer feels satisfied, valued and more connected to the brand. On the other, insights into consumer behavior give enterprises the opportunity to improve and innovate thereby attracting more customers.

Engaging and rewarding customers intelligently is a great way to foster relationships and build trust towards a brand. With intelligent customer engagement platforms, proactively engaging with customers isn’t an expensive proposition anymore, but the solution to driving better business results that in turn generate increased revenue.

The writer is Anna Gong, CEO, Perx.

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