Six ways to make every customer contact count

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Andy Roussel
Andy Roussel

Today's marketers are struggling with many issues, including media, postage, channel selection, and the pull vs. push nature of marketing today. Perhaps the biggest pain point for most companies is having enough data to create relevant messaging to audience members, says Andy Roussel, director of marketing at Pitney Bowes. Roussel has more than 25 years of experience in developing customer communications management solutions for a wide variety of companies in many industries, including insurance, financial services and healthcare.

“Although targeting tools are well-developed, it can be difficult to use those tools if the insight about individual audience members isn't developed enough to be translated to relevant offers,” Roussel says.

Here are six ways you can make every customer contact count: 

Establish relevance through data quality

Ensuring every customer contact is relevant and provides an opportunity for business growth is dependent on the quality and quantity of customer data. Roussel says it's tempting to partake of third-party information, such as generic profiles based on demographics. The profiles are helpful in some ways, but they simply don't yield information about your organization's customers and members. Effective communications rely on insights gained from a company's own customer base, and that data is crucial for customer retention, relevancy, and ultimately, business growth.

Extract context from customer contacts

“As a company trying to engage customers, I need to be able to extract information from my interactions with my existing customers,” Roussel advises. “Then, I append external data to that to complete the view of those customers so I can build an analytics model that can shape the communications I send out to audience members. Doing that, one can send something targeted, something that will resonate with the audience member on an individual basis."

Build relevance for results

Among the benefits of tailoring customer communications in this way are higher response and stronger engagement with the customer, and improved response drives sales and revenue. When only relevant material is being delivered, the cost of distributing these communications is reduced and that is also good for customer satisfaction. Who wants to receive communications that aren't on target with their needs? Above all, marketers should avoid what Roussel calls “the old Sears catalog level of information.” Send communications that are based on that customer's data and the analysis that's been conducted against the data, whether it's company-collected or third-party provided or both.

Understand the data you already possess

Roussel advises organizations to profile current customers first to understand what data gaps may exist. Then, look for ways to fill the gaps with information already on hand within the organization or locating the information from third-party providers. Analyzing the data will help determine channel preferences, meaning how the audience prefers to receive communications from your company.

You had me at the front cover

“If you send something out that's going to resonate right from the front cover, or on the outside of the envelope or immediately on opening the envelope, then you've got it right,” he says. "That's the start of the engagement.”

Roussel adds, “The recipient will stay with that piece longer and will be more likely to respond to whatever the call to action is than if they have to sort through a lot of information to find out why your offer or communication is somehow relevant to them.”

Fine tune through testing and analysis

Make testing a part of the marketing process. As you enter new market spaces or geographic regions or as you launch new products and services, test and analyze customer response. That way, Roussel says, your organization can continuously refine its customer communications while also keeping your customer intelligence up to date and accurate.

“The way customers engage with companies is changing constantly,” Roussel says. “Making sure every contact counts — now and in the future — is dependent upon how well you know your customers.”

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