Wednesday, 16 July 2014

CEM in the age of mobile

As the Indian economy grows, competition in almost every industry is also growing, making it difficult for companies to retain customers and remain profitable. It has become difficult to influence customers through the traditional ways of push marketing as there has been information overload of all these mass advertisements. Thus, people have become immune to these marketing tactics. The solution to this problem is establishing sustainable competitive advantage by implementing comprehensive Customer Engagement Management (CEM) strategies. CEM tries to create an emotional bond with the customer by providing positive and personalized experiences at every touch point.  But, just the realization of this concept by companies does not automatically result into a solution. Customer expectations are changing rapidly with the increase in the number of options and there is an urgent need of a CEM solution that truly focuses on the customer.
There has to be a shift in the age old mindset of ‘spray & pray’. Monetary resources that are not being used productively in traditional marketing approaches like TV commercials, newspaper ads, billboards; etc could be utilized more effectively by putting them towards engagement programs that tend to deliver the desired results. Engagement program becomes more important when you consider the fact that cost of acquiring a new customer is approximately 5-10 times more than selling to an existing customer and the existing customers spend 67% more than a new one according to Inc. Magazine. 

Engagement domain, despite coming into focus recently, is itself having a paradigm shift. Most of the surveys are suggesting that for CEM, a continuous touchpoint is needed as a main communication channel. In today’s world, I don’t believe that there is an engagement channel which is more personalized & instant than a mobile phone. Thus, mobile phone becomes a prime option in the list of preferred customer engagement channels. Mobile penetration is rapidly growing in India with customer base of around 773 million active subscribers according to TRAI. In fact, India is only next to China when it comes to the number of mobile subscribers.  As mobile becomes the easiest way to reach a customer, it would play the centre stage around which all Customer Engagement Strategies will be built. With Smartphone penetration in India hovering around 10 percent and quickly growing, it will also play a major role in the scheme of things in the future. Presently, SMS should be the preferred communicating channel for different engagement programs being run by the company along with the usual emails and web portal. The SMS should contain personal identifiers so that it becomes more engaging and cuts across the plethora of SMSs that the customer gets on his phone. SMS could be used to keep the customer updated about various parameters of the engagement program such as - start of the engagement program, targeted offers, points earned and redeemed (if it’s a points based program) & many more aspects. The program could also use inbound SMSs to register the previously unknown customers into the program. For example, say an electrician buys an electric fan and SMSs the a unique code pasted on the box to a specific number and in this way he is registered in the engagement program run by the fan company.
There are many aspects that constitute a successful engagement program. Different engagement stages like enroll, engage and encash should work together seamlessly and should provide excellent user experience. The enrollment process should be frictionless so that there is no attrition at the enrollment stage. There should be unique journeys for all participants and their experience should be gamified for maximum engagement. Also, the participants should be able to choose the rewards themselves from a catalog which can be both online in the form of a web portal as well as offline like displayed as posters or given as a booklet. By sending personalized SMSs and providing the flexibility for the customers choose their own gifts from the points earned, the engagement program becomes highly personalized.
Customers here can be both internal such as employees and external like channel partners (dealers, distributors, retailers etc.) and influencers like mechanics, painters and electricians and of course end consumers.
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