a.k.a. Do You Wish You Were a Mind Reader?
When you run a company, the bottom line is forefront in everything you do, and part of that is to know and understand your customers and clients. What they like and what they don’t like, why they do or don’t do business with you, and what the decision making process is, not to mention demographics, buying trends, etc. For years, marketing managers have chased down figuring out what makes customers tick, ways to improve products and services, and how to stay cost efficient based on those results.
As a CEO, you care about the bottom line, market trends, your employees, and how to stay ahead in a crowded marketplace. From surveys to social media, companies have sought ways to understand their customer’s buying habits and satisfaction level. Surveys can be useful, but people get fatigued seeing them over and over again, plus they’re driven by the company, not the customer, and are often overlooked. Social media has certainly and profoundly changed the landscape of customer feedback, but it’s just that, social, and typically for the world to see rather than kept private. The difference with using real-time engagement to attain this information is evident in the name. The engagement happens in real time, as in the customer is engaging directly with the company. When this occurs via social media, it’s typically visible to the public, but when companies utilize this process via real-time engagement technology, it’s private, anonymous for the user, and the data that matters gets funneled directly to the company. It’s this data that is highly valuable to brands because of the cumulative and customer driven nature of the process.
All of the above feeds right into the well-known principle of “know, like, and trust”, which leads to loyalty, growth, and revenue. This is key. People may buy with emotion and logic, but WHO they buy from is associated with who they know, like, and trust, with trust being the predominant winner of the three in many cases. So how does a company earn trust? The obvious answers are quality products and services, going the extra mile, consistency, etc. But the added factor is transparency. Consumers are savvy and they don’t have time for smoke and mirrors. They’ll be on to the next thing before the ink is dry if they’re not treated right. Companies need to be mindful of their believability factor, as it’s widely known that consumers don’t always believe what a company says about itself. The more consumers are being treated honestly and openly by a company, the more apt they are to trust them. Going back to real-time engagement, this matters at the exact point of purchase. Whether a loyal customer already, a new purchaser, or someone who is skeptical about the product or company, capturing customer’s emotions at the moment of interaction with a brand is the quintessential moment of VALUE that can benefit a company. That’s the secret sauce for companies, something so organic, immediate, and direct, it trumps surveys and social media. Information and data are moving faster as we move forward in time. It’s inevitable that businesses will need to operate in real time to compete.
Being smart about data collection is a big differentiator. “Smart data” is just that; it’s the smart way of collecting data and reliably interpreting the results of that collected data. Today’s smart data can be found at the intersection of mobile, real-time engagement and capturing emotion in the moment of engagement with brands. The predictive analytics resulting from this data is truly unique, with potentially immense results. Mobile technology is innately personal, leading to high confidence of the feedback, as emotional feedback is visceral and directly correlated to the brand. A customer-centric engagement platform enables people to engage with brands at will, based on their own personal experience. Garnering emotion from willing participants as they engage with brands provides organizations with the elusive “WHY” people behave the way they do with your brand. This prized data is the fuel for providing organizations with effective forward-looking customer insights. Interpreting smart data correctly takes the mystery out of knowing and understanding customer behavior. When companies listen to this high confidence feedback from engaged customers and use the smart data to implement improvements, changes, and other forms of positive customer service throughout the company, it creates a win-win result, positioning companies to grow their brand in sync with their customer’s experience.
Let’s talk about another principle of marketing. There’s an old adage that you can’t have all three when it comes to “fast, good, and cheap”. If it’s fast and good, it’s not cheap, and so on. So let’s break it down. These days, when it comes to our smart devices, that old rule is being challenged. Apps had better be fast, or users will be on to the next big thing, right? Typically, apps are also cheap, or free, for the most part, and with standards being high among the millennial crowd, they had also better be good if they want to have happy customers. So does that leave “fast, good, and cheap” in the dust? Not exactly. In fact, utilizing real-time engagement in an app format may not be cheap for a company to put in place, but it is definitely cost-effective, as the value of the information outweighs the cost to implement.
Instead of the question, “Why WOULD you want to utilize real-time engagement for your company?”, when you realize the power it has, it’s more like, “Why WOULDN’T you want real-time engagement for your company?” Yes, social media provides information back to companies. Yes, good old-fashioned surveys still work in certain situations. But none of that has the same impact as real-time engagement. One of the best features about real-time engagement technology is that it can be as custom as any company wants. From basic to advanced, information is collected anonymously by the user who voices their experience, which is then transferred to the company. The value is most apparent when the data adds up collectively. Real-time engagement can be customized to work with everyone from new customers to loyal followers, brand ambassadors, and influencers, where trust is already established. Incentives can be put in place within the technology, and companies can establish their own proprietary packages of specific information they are seeking, plus the range of emotions associated with customer buying habits. When done right, the goal and outcome of a real-time engagement campaign can be music to a CEO’s ears.
Written by LisaBeth Weber.
LisaBeth Weber writes marketing content for Artful Decisions, a real-time engagement company specializing in mobile technology for brands to understand the emotions and real-time engagement of their customers. Her freelance work with clients such as Artful Decisions brings knowledge forward for companies to learn about cutting-edge technology to advance their businesses in a competitive marketplace. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.