Consumers are more connected than ever, leaving organizations to determine the best way to engage with the digitally empowered market. Nielsen reports that the average consumer now owns four digital devices and a 2014 Bank of America survey found that smartphones fall below only the Internet and personal hygiene when ranked by importance to people’s daily lives.
As a result, we’ve seen companies across industries prioritize a digital-first initiative to meet consumers on the channels and devices they use most frequently. By redefining the attributes of their ideal customer profiles, companies can use digital mediums to compel an average customer to adopt the behaviors of that ideal customer profile – that is, a customer that’s more engaged, spends more, costs less to serve and is more likely to refer their friends.
So how can you influence customer behaviors and encourage digital actions, such as paperless billing, or help to reduce negative interactions like calling customer support? It comes down to a human engagement challenge. The customer journey consists of many touch points, both digital and non-digital, and every touch point is another opportunity for you to engage the consumer.
The more you can communicate with an individual in a personally relevant way with calls to action that resonate, the more effective you’ll be in driving the desired behavior shift.
Many companies are well on their way to implementing a digital-first strategy. Here are three lessons we can learn from their efforts.
1. Using Personalized Video to Compel Digital Actions
We’ve helped many of our customers take a non-digital transaction, for example a customer service phone call, and use it to trigger a communication that educates customers about why it’s easier and more efficient to complete that transactions via a digital channel next time.
The challenge is that if you communicate the message ineffectively, you risk frustrating your customer. Using video as the communication vehicle helps mitigate that risk, as the medium captures the customer’s attention and can visually and verbally convey messages in a manner that is easy to understand.
It’s even more effective if you add personalized storytelling and deliver a video with an engaging message that is unique and relevant to each individual.
Take a look at some examples of how companies can use personalized video to explain the value in adopting digital channels first, in order to change the customer’s future behaviors:
A company in the telecommunications industry can send a personalized video to follow up with a customer who called a service representative. The video greets her by name and includes a welcome message from the customer support representative who spoke with her before recapping the recent transaction and confirming the details to avoid a repeat contact.
Then the video continues with an explanation of how to complete that transaction via digital options in the future to save time.
A hotel or resort can use personalized video to communicate with guests before they arrive for their stay. The video includes a personalized message highlighting the resort amenities the guest is most likely to enjoy, and encourages him to download the mobile app or digital concierge service to use during his stay.
For example, Atlantis Paradise Island, a luxurious tropical resort in The Bahamas, delivers personalized video stories embedded in emails at three different touch points between trip booking and a guest’s arrival. The videos recap accommodations and trip package, then encourage guests to use Atlantis’ online planning tool to add activities to their travel plan, make advance restaurant reservations and upgrade their rooms.
By personalizing the video scenes, content and creative assets for each viewer, Atlantis ensures high viewer engagement and ultimately, can drive the key desired actions.
Retailers can use personalized video ads to promote omnichannel initiatives and drive sales. Personalized video ads are tailored to each individual shopper based on key data attributes. A brand can target a consumer who browsed for a new appliance online, but didn’t purchase, with an ad that shows that product with the current pricing and an offer to buy online and pick up in-store.
2. Incorporating Digital into In-Store Experiences
Forrester Research predicts that by 2017, 60 percent of all retail transactions will involve an online interaction at some point along the customer journey. Think about how you can add digital touch points within physical store locations to blur the lines between the physical and digital experiences.
In addition to using personalized video to communicate omnichannel promotions, educate the customer on the benefits of shopping online while they’re physically in the store, or use digital channels to improve the in-store service experience.
Take Apple’s most recent product launch for example. The tech giant encouraged customers to order their new Apple Watches online in an effort to end the long lines that form outside stores ahead of product launches. Apple’s head of retail, Angela Ahrendts, acknowledged that this is a significant change in consumer mindset and requires considerable work to train customers to choose a digital channel over the physical stores.
In support of this digital-first shift, Apple educated customers on the benefits of shopping online, and also incorporated digital interactions into its in-store experience. For instance, U.K. shoppers were required to place their Apple Watch order via an in-store kiosk, and the watches were then shipped to their home.
AT&T is also extending its digital capabilities to in-store experiences. If you visit an AT&T store, you’ll find employees armed with tablets that use the same mobile technologies AT&T’s customers use. Employees can assist you in-store with the same digital experience you’d get from your AT&T service or device.
The tablets provide visibility into customer data, making sure employees are completely informed about each customer’s history and needs. Customers benefit from a better experience that crosses digital and physical divides.
3. Prioritizing Digital Customer Service
Companies are finding that more and more customers are turning to digital service channels. In fact, Dimension Data found 68 percent of respondents preferred a digital channel for simple customer service inquiries. Realizing how customers are turning to social channels to give feedback, ask questions and look for help, Comcast is also beefing up its social support team.
Says Tom Karinshak, senior vice president of customer service, the mission of the @ComcastCares team is to “provide care and support to anyone who needs help, wherever they want it.”
Meeting customers on the channels they prefer is important, but to ultimately compel customers to use digital service channels first, you need to ensure that it is easy for the customer to get the answer or problem resolution they’re looking for. Karinshak notes that Comcast’s social team has access to the same tools, resources and appointment scheduling capabilities as other support teams, making social media a go-to customer service resource for customers.
How to Become a Digital-First Organization
As I noted earlier, we’ve been watching AT&T make major digital moves. The company set an ambitious goal of moving 80 percent of its customer interactions to digital channels by 2020. Thaddeus Arroyo, AT&T’s chief information officer (CIO), pointed to the 76 percent of AT&T customers that prefer digital experiences – a majority subset of which prefer mobile experiences – as reason to blur the digital and physical customer experiences.
To truly blur the lines, you need a firm grasp of how to use your customer data to tailor the customer experience to the individual across all touch points. Arroyo says, “What we’re striving for by 2020 is to capture, integrate and interpret data in a way that directly impacts the customer experience. They shouldn’t have to tell us what we already know. We want to extend this intelligence to the physical and digital boundaries.”
If you want to create a seamless digital experience at every touch point, as AT&T plans to do, you need to secure buy-in from across the organization, from marketing and advertising to customer service and support. You need to inform your brand communication at every customer interaction with data that supports customer preferences, transactional history and other contextual references.
This alignment allows you to realize the true value of a data-driven and digital-first approach so you can engage with consumers through the channels they use most.
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