Ernan Roman photo 2013 PNG1journalThe following is a guest post by Ernan Roman (@ernanroman), President, ERDM

We believed that with tighter targeting we could increase engagement. By acting on insights from Voice of Customer research, we were able to go far beyond our previous segmentation strategies and now use in-depth self-defined life stages and attitudes toward certain product categories. As a result, we are seeing significantly improved responses in a category that has low consumer engagement and inertia.” Kris Gates, VP, Consumer Experience Marketing, MassMutual Retirement Services.

True Personalization is a 2-Step Process: Listen & Respond

Findings from the latest B2B and B2C VoC research conducted by our firm, ERDM, indicate that the key drivers for achieving deep customer engagement are self-defined life stages and attitudes toward the company and the product categories. So, today more than ever;

  • Marketers must listen to customers, understand their individual needs and build experiences and products that are competitively differentiating.
  • Use customer insights to understand how your different customer segments define engagement and positive experiences. Then put those insights into action to improve the customer experience across every point of contact with your organization.
  • High quality experiences must be maintained and experientially adjusted throughout the relationship to remain relevant across the individual’s ever-changing life stages. This applies to B2B and B2C customer life cycles.

Here’s an important insight from Mike Rude who is responsible for innovating the freight solutions customer experience at FedEx, including FedEx Freight and FedEx Express Freight. He co-authored the original article upon which this blog is based, “Human data: The powerful differentiator for FedEx, MassMutual and Gilt.” The article appeared in the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing, Vol. 3 No. 1. Download the article by clicking here.

According to Mike, “We work hard to first understand the needs of the customer. This enables us to ensure that technology deployment will focus on delivering the optimal customer experience at every point of contact and every channel important to our customers. Focus on understanding what the customer wants and how to use technology to deliver on those expectations.”

Gilt, a respected online retailer, also uses customer insights to drive deep personalization across all channels and all touchpoints. Results of these efforts have netted the company increased orders, decreased unsubscribes and higher repeat-purchase rates. “Gilt’s commitment to a personalized experience [starts at] the home page of the web site or mobile app ” states Welington Fonseca, former VP of marketing and digital analytics. He continues, “All communication is personalized…Sales [are presented according to] the highest affinity to a consumer’s past behavior and preferences (browse, purchase, favorite brands, wish list) with all other sales ranked according to relevance based on previous shopping behavior and collaborative filtering.”

Elements of Human Data and 4 Levels of Trust

Factors in acquiring actionable human data include the following B2B or B2C opt-in self-profiled information regarding;

  • Key issues, needs, expectations of that individual.
  • Decision-making process, roles and titles of influencers and decision makers. This applies to B2C and B2B customers.
  • Messaging and media preferences.
  • And critically, self-described personality types, attitudes, life stages.

However, in order to acquire the precious human data necessary to achieve true personalization, your company must be seen as worthy this information. Four Levels of Trust emerged from the VoC research:

  1. Do what you promised: Deliver on your fundamental brand promise.
  2. Treat me fairly: Fair and customer focused pricing and customer service policies.
  3. Protect my information: Explain the reasons for the opt-in information requests and assure me of the privacy and safety of my data.
  4. Improve my experiences: Use my stated preferences and aversions, to dramatically improve my experiences.

In Summary

A deep understanding of how different customer segments define high-value, personal experiences with your specific company and products will enable you to learn what human data customers want you to use to significantly improve their customer experiences.

The numbers from MassMutual say it all. Following are the results from initial pilots run by Kris Gates and his team using human data versus the control groups;

  • 94 per cent higher open rates
  • 1,062 per cent higher engagement with content
  • Zero Unsubscribes
  • 100 percent deliverability
  • 400% increase in response.

Best wishes for success with your customer experience innovation. For 12 takeaways to help you implement your own human data driven customer engagement strategies, click here.

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