'Real-time Segmentation' maximizes returns on marketing dollars

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Consumer-facing companies invest millions to get consumers to call them, but a lot of this money is wasted. These companies are selling ineffectively because their call-center agents rarely know anything about who is calling. When a consumer telephones a company's contact center for the first time, many of these same companies are flying blind. At an information disadvantage, the wrong agents are making the wrong pitches to the wrong people and, unfortunately, the best prospects often slip through their fingers.

The caller, on the other hand, is fully armed with information, gleaned from the Internet and elsewhere, about the company and its products. It's time for consumer-facing companies to get smarter and level the playing field.

Imagine you are a credit card issuer trying to sign up subscribers to a gold card. You publish a special toll-free number in golfing and fashion magazines. When the ads hit the newsstands, the calls start coming in. Caller A has no chance of qualifying for the card, but you spend 10 minutes on the phone with him. Caller B is qualified for the card and ready to sign up, but after nine minutes on hold, he abandons the call because you took so long with Caller A. Caller C is not only qualified for the gold card, but your platinum card as well — you should be trying to sell her the platinum — but this is a phone line for the gold card.

Not very good, is it? Companies need to take all the knowledge they have about their customers, all their selling skills and all the market research available on consumers as a whole, and apply them to brand new prospects before the agent even picks up the phone.

With this capability, companies would know before calls connect who is most likely to convert and who has the highest value. They could route the caller to the most appropriate agent, prioritize callers in the queue, direct low-value customers to interactive voice response (IVR) systems and customize sales scripts — all based on the profile of the caller. In this scenario, the company would be on equal footing with the consumer, making better use of all the marketing dollars it's invested.

This is real-time segmentation, a scenario that applies predictive analytics at the point of contact.

Ideally, the process of real-time segmentation starts with an actionable consumer segmentation system that is customized to the unique needs, wants, attitudes, purchasing behaviors, etc. of your customers and markets. Using the segmentation system, profiles are created that reflect a consumer's propensity and ability to buy, along with other appropriate factors or behaviors.

On an inbound call, for example, these profiles are then integrated with your call-center systems. When a call comes in, the system identifies the caller by phone number and grabs the relevant segment that triggers a corresponding consumer profile, directing the caller to the right place with the right agent delivering the right message.

At this point, the company is no longer flying blind. Operators are marketing directly to consumers on a foundation of sophisticated, relevant and actionable information, improving conversion rates and customer value.

Every operator in the call center is now as good as the company's best agent and as savvy as the entire market research department. All the company's marketing intelligence is engaged at the point of contact, and this new point-of-contact agility can be leveraged throughout the rest of the organization, from advertising and direct marketing to strategic planning. With real-time segmentation, analytics are actionable, making the company as smart about its prospects and customers as they are about the company.

  

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