Optimising Marketing Channels In A Complex Digital World
In January, VoiceSage conducted a special roundtable event with our partners at the UK Contact Centre Forum on the important contact centre industry issue of optichannel
This is the first of a two-part summary of the main discussion points our invited delegates found most useful from the day
Data seems to be very much a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we have amazing new technologies coming on-stream for marketers, like BlueTooth beacons and geofencing that deliver personalised, highly-localised messages to people passing the shop, and Big Data tools like heatmaps that will be able to track with great accuracy which areas in your Mall or store buyers tend to congregate in most.
In other words – powerful ways to link customer phone and GPS data to your existing computerised picture of them to sharpen up your sales offer and keep offering ever-better propositions.
And on the other: contact centre managers busy preparing for the May 25th onset of GDPR can be forgiven for wondering how on Earth this brave new world of data-driven contact can be reconciled with privacy concerns and emergent legislation.
This is one way to understand where we are with optichannel, based on a fascinating discussion with delegates to a January UKCCF Executive Club in London.
The dividing line between generations
Participants were all professionals and practitioners from a range of areas of business, including public sector digital transformation consultancies, providers of outsourced contact centre services, CX (customer experience) experts, local authorities, Universities and the financial services sector.
The discussion centred on whether optichannel could be the best – maybe the only? – way to solve this dilemma, namely the right route to connect with customers and in a way that’s best for both parties.
At heart, the optichannel promise is that contact can be accomplished by a) restricting, not constantly expanding, your range of contact channels, b) using technology to automate as much as you can out of the process to keep it simple and c) as much as possible, allowing the customer to switch between channels so they can use the one they want, when they want it.
The rewards of such an approach could be great; imagine an increasingly paperless world where your phone is your door into highly localised, convenient services, from guiding you through a hospital visit to never having to worry about losing your ticket to a Six Nations game again (and collecting a complimentary drink at the bar via NFC (Near Field Communication), perhaps?).
But, agreed the group, the key word is ‘could’. The truth is that brands are struggling to calibrate their interactions with digitally-savvy consumers, with the biggest dividing line being the one between generations, practitioners believe.
“The CX side of customer outreach is very challenging,” said a Head of Services at a technology firm. “We are bombarding users with emails all the time. It’s not very effective.”
“That’s because we just don’t know as yet what the optimal experience is,” added a Customer Experience leader at a London council. “The pre-Internet generation are struggling with this, as they are very poor at turning off preferences and so get bombarded a lot more than younger people, who have given up on Facebook for that very reason. Older people also seem to feel they ‘have’ to read everything, which means they wade through communications that younger people just ignore.”
“Yes, younger people are much better at this – they use much fewer sites and are much more focused. There’s a ‘before’ and ‘after’ email and a WhatsApp mindset – their minds are just wired differently!” added the MD of an outsourcing company.
“I am always having to unsubscribe from marketing emails I have signed up for, whereas my son just buys from one online store and ignores all that side of the Internet completely. I worry I may be missing out on bargains and deals so devote more attention to this than he sees as at all necessary,” confessed a CX specialist at a British University.
“It’s absolutely the case that it’s more than being digitally educated – Millennials and Gen Y are much more adept at the social media world,” added a contact centre manager for a High Street Bank. “The guys coming up behind us don’t want ‘everything’ – they just want what they want.”
Less noise – more signal
While GDPR may simplify the situation and make it much easier to tune out of some of the online noise, the consequences of this digital divide supports the optichannel argument, it turns out.
That’s because as more born-digital people enter the workplace and flex their shopping muscles, they will reject brands that try too hard to reach them on every possible channel all the time, the group agreed.
“We need to move away from shotgun marketing where we send out endless messages, which we do because we only really have fuzzy pictures of our customers, and get much more detailed and accurate views to better tailor what people will actually respond to,” added a New Business Development Manager at an Internet company.
“We also have to really be honest with ourselves and ask: Are we the right people to be trying to create the right sort of online experience for a 19-year old?”
It seems that ways to cut down the noise and get more signal out to our users – which is what optichannel promises – has to be the way forward here.
John Duffy is our Enterprise Sales Consultant