The Google Retail Advertising Blog has three tips for online retailers:
- Align your business around a single customer across many channels rather than a channel by channel experience.
- Build exceptional connected experiences across devices that let every unique individual know your brand understands what interests them at that right moment.
- Ensure that your brand can deliver what a customer is looking for regardless of the device, location or time.
What does this advice mean? What does it mean to say that you need to “align your business around a single customer?” Let’s take a closer look.
If a business brings in customers in different ways, should it only take note of the immediate route that each customer comes in by or should it locate every other channel that the customer may have used to get to know the business better before ultimately making a purchase decision?
Businesses have had to struggle with this problem for years now. While they do acknowledge that each customer could approach their business repeatedly through different channels, they have struggled with how to pull together all the information they have about each customer, to arrive at a unified picture.
We live in a time today when customers can seamlessly switch between approaching a business through multiple channels. If it’s a website such as NextDayLenses, for instance a customer could arrive through a device like a smartphone app or browser, a Facebook page, a blog recommendation, an email newsletter or a search engine recommendation. Businesses succeed when they manage to offer their customers the same kind of service the matter how they are approached. They need to make sure that their marketing messages are targeted to the individual customer so that the customer sees the same kind of business and product no matter how he approaches the company.
How do businesses align themselves around their individual customers? It takes help from complex analytical tools to help a business keep track of all the customer data that their online marketing activities generate. It also takes a new approach to marketing.
According to a recent Forrester Research report, improving customer relationships through creating universal customer history records will be a top priority to businesses now. One way to do this is to shift responsibility for marketing to customers away from the marketing department and towards the customer service department. Unified marketing requires human intelligence that can look at every kind of touch point that each customer has made use of in the past. A human customer service representative can sense of loyalty, eccentricity, personal preference and other human qualities into account and make direct suggestions customized suggestions.
Depending entirely on the customer service department rather than automated systems makes complete sense. Customers expect that a company should keep them in mind – contact them on the phone, for instance, right after a Twitter interaction. Only humans, at this point, can arrange for this to happen. This dovetails neatly into the next recommendations by Google, too – offering a seamless experience is the consumer.
Of course, not all the efficient customer contact will make sense if a company is ultimately unable to deliver. Delivering the product or service in as short a time as possible is vital.