Knowing customers wherever they touch your business

We have seen businesses who have been later entrants into internet and even mobile shopping losing ground as they lose customers who view such retailers as out-of-touch with their requirements. HMV was a great example where it seems their lack of investment in online in preference for diversification left a great brand anachronistic and irrelevant for its customer base and struggling for market share.
Today’s consumer wants a relationship with a brand that he or she values, trusts and wants to participate with through any channel. In return they want to be recognised as the same customer whether they engage on-line, in-store or on a mobile device.
Contact through any of these are valuable touchpoints where the relationship can be tested and data acquired, validated or augmented.
We had one client in fashion retail who were looking to stop publishing their printed catalogue since the number of orders being placed by phone or order form was declining. Analysis of how many of their best customers wished to manage the relationship across all channels was fascinating; typically they would wait eagerly for the latest catalogue and then having selected the items that attracted them they would go on-line to browse these products in more detail. Having made the decision, they would then visit their local high street branch and try the product and buy in-store. Taking away the catalogue would have had severe implications on their store sales.
The key is to recognise the customer however they present themselves to the business but ideally without the need for a loyalty card to encumber the experience as it replaces the enjoyment of shopping with a mundane device. In the work I did in the UK theme park sector in the 1990s and 2000s we shunned a ‘back-to-earth’ effect of data capture, relying alternatively on an in-context method of acquiring data which became part of the fun day out.
Once this can be achieved in retail (and I have some ideas of how to do it) the relationship can be integrated and rather than just today’s special offer being emailed or sent by SMS message, the individual can enjoy a much more tailored experience.
If any retailers would like to discuss this methodology do get in touch at mc@dmcounsel.co.uk.

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Scoring your customers

Companies must continue communicating with their customers through a consistent strategy that is driven by customer insight. Rating current customers is not solely based on how much they spend but has as its basis the classic RFM (or RFV in the UK) model that creates a score based on recency, frequency and monetary value. My recommenation is not to stop there but to add more elements such as Returns, Complaints, number of enquiries, length of time they have been a customer and create a contact plan that reacts to the dynamics of these scores.

Often we will identify cohorts of customers that represent bad business. The solution can either be to review the business process for how you do business with them, e.g. relegating them to an ‘exclusive’ on-line relationship where the cost of managing them is reduced rather than taking up the time of a salesman or telephone agent; alternatively the bullet might have to be bitten and you resign the account.

However, building segmentations or communities of valuable, profitable customers by profile and comparing their behaviour will also drive the communication; but don’t just use it to determine when to make contact. Customer insight should also drive the ‘next best proposition’ for each customer so that the sales person can be proactive in establishing opportunity. What you know about your customers can also be used to drive new customer acquisition by comparing prospects’ profiles with your customers and determining the best proposition.

Customers rate companies with whom they deal by the quality of the communications and this means relevance, personalisation and timeliness.

The extended 3-letter acronym to drive retail direct sales

Analytics software is useful, but some concept of what should be analysed is also of value. Retailers will often create a RFV model, combining Recency (of last purchase), Frequency (regularity of purchase) and Value (either total spend or average order value, for example) to create a score for each customer.

We have found that adding additional elements expands the score from the 3-letter acronym to a multi-letter acronym such as RFVRCA where you add on the instances of Returns, Complaints and Abandoned on-line baskets committed by the customer.

This score then becomes a comparitor between customers, a selection criterion for campaign or proposition and changes in the individual’s score over time become a valid measure of success of the relationship.

Applying demographic, lifestyle and psychographic profiling provides an even more granular segmentation and the ability to apply the concept to prospects, with the benefit of making relevant offers to convert them to customers.

Such models can be created without investment in analytical software and can be applied in rules-based workflow and business process, with the dynamics regularly reviewed and the model(s) enhanced.

Turbocharge automotive marketing

The key to building insight about automotive customers and prospects lies in bringing together everything you know about them. This can reveal the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ but what if you were able to add the ‘why’ factor?

 To achieve this you must also include attitudes and aspirations that drive their purchase decisions.

 Consider the scenario where information acquired through tracking response and behaviour is matched to the researched view of attitudes and aspirations to create profiles. The outcome can then be used to create communication strategies to ensure no opportunity is lost and the customer or prospect is always directed towards the best next action, driving relevant, targeted communications.

 A good example of this occurred when consulting for an automotive manufacturer. A list of potential customers for a new mid-range car was tested and ostensibly, the profiles absolutely matched the positioning of the model to be sold. However, research revealed their preference for a pre-owned luxury car with personalised plates to disguise the age of the car, as they could not afford their ideal car new. So a new mid-range car proposition would have been totally irrelevant and failed.

 Such insight can also be used to determine how best to move customer relationships forward or flag danger signs. Does recent action (or inaction) indicate possible churn? Has an enquiry been exceptionally different to all those before? Are they approaching a milestone in their relationship with the company?

 Similarly with prospects – insight can help in directing their passage through the ‘prospect funnel’ and reduce the number that are normally haemorrhaged on the way through.