It’s widely known that brands struggle with earning loyalty and building trust among customers. It’s an age-old problem that doesn’t seem to have a clear solution despite the numerous investments into digital channels — from mobile apps and websites, to email campaigns and chatbots. Add shifting consumer expectations to the mix, and companies are at a quandary.
While the problem may be age-old, we can’t rely on legacy best practices to address it. Building consumer brand affinity used to be tethered to the amount of quality time spent with the customer, whereas today’s customers value the amount of time vendors give them back. They want relevant, timely and easy interactions that go beyond self-service. Self-service shifts the onus of work from vendor to consumer, which isn’t really conducive to creating positive sentiment because self-service drives customer disengagement — no matter how personalized a portal, chat, or app experience may be. In fact, disengagement is probably the greatest indicator for deteriorating customer loyalty and trust. To better understand how companies are solving for low consumer engagement, Relay Network, a leading customer engagement solution provider, partnered with Forrester Consulting to analyze what could be done to reverse the digital engagement curve.
Many companies are plagued by rudimentary, decentralized and episodic customer engagement strategies via email, direct mail and telemarketing. Some interactions are shallow and lack personal connections which make them difficult to draw insight from. Engagement is often sporadic, resulting in missed opportunities to build trust and provide a rich, well-defined experience. Organizations with weak digital footprints often fail to streamline operations as channel managers coordinate overlapping outreach in silos.
The companies studied by Forrester noticed they were falling short of their digital transformation goals and not positioned to deliver the total customer experience they sought. A modern and digital client communications method was necessary to shift customer engagement from one-off conversations to a continuous dialogue. By implementing Relay, those organizations demonstrated a measurable increase in return on investment and strengthened customer relationships. Herein, I’ll dive deeper into how businesses can benefit from feed technology (usually associated with social networks like LinkedIn or TikTok) at every stage of the customer journey to deliver a positive, long-term customer experience.
Onboarding customers is hard — ensuring they follow through is even more difficult. The timing of interactions during this golden stage is critical since this is when account activation and education are most likely to occur.
Consider this example: your new credit card arrives in the mail, but you put off activating it for weeks thinking you’ll get to it later. Unlike email or direct mail, feeds provided customers with a link to sign up and simple directions to activate credit cards, allowing for real-time follow through that is hard to achieve with more traditional engagement methods. Activation rates went up as did the volume of lifetime value customers (who otherwise would have remained dormant).
Apart from onboarding, persistent engagement with customers is another uphill battle for companies. Presenting relevant content to consumers on an ongoing basis is a test of resilience and timing. Whether it’s persuading existing banking customers to go paperless or to use a specific credit card as a primary payment method, brands are challenged to convert intention into tangible actions. Through feeds, organizations were able to reach higher engagement rates during the second portion of the customer journey and perform more profit-generating activities which translated to higher lifetime value.
The last, and most complicated, part of the customer journey is reengagement. Dormant customers are those who used to interact with a brand but whose engagements have waned or fallen off completely — these customers don’t just wake from their hibernation when winter turns to spring. Most of these dormant customers just need a well-intentioned nudge to pique their interest again which means relevant, timely and actionable outreach is vital. Since feeds offer a seamless way to deliver these types of engagements, companies were able to recover lost lifetime value from once dormant customers.
Cost Savings from Direct Mail
There’s a reason why snail mail got its name: postal services today are significantly slower in delivering communication to customers compared to other channels, meaning whatever the end user gets in the mail could be old news by the time they open that envelope.
Companies that accelerated digital maturity found cost savings in direct mail outreach as a positive outcome of implementing feeds. Messaging proved to be quicker, more relevant and cheaper than direct mail. Better follow through rates also cemented feeds as a superior option for companies.
Additional non-quantifiable benefits of feeds include increased customer satisfaction, improved employee productivity, more timely communications and enhanced interactions between service representatives and customers.
Frictionless customer experience through personal, relevant content led to more enjoyable interactions for both employees and consumers. Feeds also eliminated the burden of outreach, allowing employees to focus their time on higher-value activities. For example, nurses were able to reallocate their time to providing actual patient care since feeds removed the onus of outreach and follow up. During the height of COVID-19, feeds were essential to issuing urgent communications as banks and hospitals faced location closures and curtailed hours due to the pandemic. Finally, feeds became a natural part of conversations and interactions as they quickly turned into an avenue for “engagement after the engagement.”
The benefits are clear, and the math is simple. Feed technology offers one of the most authentic channels for engagement at every stage of the customer lifecycle. There’s no need for complex mapping or cost benefit analyses of different customer engagement strategies. With feeds, single touchpoint interactions naturally turn into prolonged customer engagements that organically maximize customer lifetime value and foster brand loyalty and trust.