Customer Centricity


For all the advancements in technology and communication, it’s still just a customer – a real person – at the end of all those devices. I am regularly asked to speak to our clients about their customer engagement strategies. More often than not they are concerned about a particular channel of communication… mobile, web, promotional, etc. This is always a curious conversation for me as no consumer engages with a brand in a single dimension.
My first task is to broaden the conversation to include all the ways in which a customer engages a brand. Actually knowing your customer is most important step in customer engagement. Many companies mistakenly believe that content optimization through A/B testing is the meaning of personalization when, in fact, it is a little more than a better form of guessing. That’s not to say that A/B testing is not effective at times; it’s just not personalization. Worse yet it misses the opportunity to create customer intimacy because it’s one dimensional and is a channel dependent strategy. 
I talk about “knowing” customers in three contexts …
What is their expectation when interacting with the brand?
The notion of understanding expectation can be most simply described as facilitating the expected experience. This means, creating circumstances in which the task or activity is quickly and efficiently delivered. Do they want to download a user manual or pay their bill? We can use personalization techniques, not just to optimize the content but also the UX and the UI. For a large bank we built a form that would change font size based on the age of the customer. This area is particular is underleveraged when we contemplate building systems for our clients.
What is the type and style of content they would like to consume?
Do you like watching videos on your phone? Do you read on your iPad? Or do you source social media for information? Much of our social data science work is centered around understanding the type and style of content people would like to consume. We identify characteristics of frequently shared content to better inform the content strategy. As we build our personas and customer journeys considering the basic format of the content is an important part of delivering a personalized experience. 
What are the patterns of behavior that can be identified and addressed?
Some patterns are obvious: It’s bill paying time or I am responding to a marketing email. Subtler still is understanding people in context. While shopping for my daughter, I might be very fashion conscious, not very price sensitive and I will frequently return items. However, when shopping for my son, I am cost conscious (mostly because he’s 7 and he destroys most everything), not very fashion conscious and don’t often return things. In an e-commerce context, the experience needs to be optimized for two totally different shopping profiles. A good sales person at a department store would easily navigate this and provide appropriate options. Our data science practice is quite skilled in helping clients build data sets that become the basis for behavioral research and understanding.
Armed with this understanding we can begin to break down organizational barriers and silos that prevent our clients from delivering a consistent messaging across channels or devices. Most marketing departments are organized by channel, you’ll have the web team, the email marketing team, the direct mail team etc. The silos are further promulgated by the way budget and rewards are based on the performance metrics within a single channel. I consistently promote the idea that marketing departments need to reorganize themselves around audiences.
This idea, once it takes shape, becomes the basis for digital transformation and customer centricity. Sometimes I am asked what is it that Tahzoo does? Among other things I tell them we are agents of change. We encourage our clients to open their minds to new ideas and new possibilities for engaging with their customers. Those new ideas require change; we need to be excellent in simplifying and motivating our clients to embrace the necessary steps to move forward. Tahzoo is one of the few companies in the world that can provide the data science, the experience design and technology required to make this complex journey achievable.
Our evolution as a company, our success will not be measured by the strength of ideas but in the quality of our execution. The idea of a better customer experience is powerful but if we do work and don’t fundamentally change the customer experience, have we really done the best for our client? We must walk the talk… we must be the company that puts the transformation in Digital Transformation.