Use Email To Overcome The Customer 'Experience Void'

A wide gulf exists between companies and customers on their perceptions of the "customer experience," according to a new study, "The Consumer Conversation: The Experience Void Between Companies and their Customers."  

Closing this "experience void" can reduce costly customer turnover by anticipating and resolving issues and building deeper engagement.

Many of the findings point to opportunities where marketers can use or improve email to reduce what the study called "the engagement void." Below are some key findings from the study and what email marketers can do to help their companies shrink the gap.

(Disclosure: My employer, Silverpop, produced the study in association with Econsultancy.)

1. Most customers are lost for reasons the company can control.


-- 49% of customers switched service providers (e.g., banks, mobile, internet, satellite/cable) in 2014.
-- 30% of the customers who switched blamed it on a bad customer experience (in-store, customer service, loyalty program, website or app, and communications, including email).
-- 59% left because another company offered them something better.



The email opportunity: These findings highlight the need to use customer cues and other behavioral data to detect customer dissent and to incorporate them into your email-messaging program.

For example, subscription-based service providers can use data to identify customers who aren't using the services they've paying for and reconnect with special email offers. This reduces service cancellations and saves the acquisition costs of continually refilling the funnel with new customers.

2. Value and relevance work together for a good customer experience.


-- 47% of companies say they deliver relevant communications, but fewer companies are confident that they know which channels customers prefer for different messages (44%), how often to send messages (37%) or knowing when customers want to receive communications (34%).
-- 35% of customers say the messages they get from their favorite companies are "usually relevant."
-- 21% say messages from average companies are "usually relevant."

The email opportunity: "Relevance" has lost its meaning, especially when you look at the gap between company and customer perceptions. Instead, consider "value," a concept that incorporates both explicit preferences and implicit customer behavior cues.

Email also isn't the only or the best channel all the way through the customer journey, either. The study highlights the need for marketers to learn and develop content for different channel preferences or opportunities as well as behavior.

3. Companies that manage the lowest points in the customer relationship are more likely to retain customers.


-- 77% of companies say they can predict when problems will arise, and 89% are satisfied with the ways they resolve conflicts.
-- 42% of customers had a problem with a trusted company in 2014.
-- 71% of those customers who said the company managed the conflict well are still customers, with 46% continuing to shop at the same level; 89% shared their experiences publicly.
-- 46% of those who said the company managed the conflict poorly are still customers, but only 13% shop at the same level, and 98% shared their experiences.

The email opportunity: Capture and use customer-service data both for specialized email messaging that deals with immediate situations and for future triggered messages that can head off complaints and call-center contacts.

One example: A home-security company identified the behaviors that indicate customer dissatisfaction and assigned a score to each behavior, such as not activating a security system, not downloading a mobile app or not accepting SMS notifications.

Customers who score high receive targeted emails designed to show value, answer questions and explain how the systems work, all in an effort to reduce cancellations.

The study highlights the need for an integrated customer and marketing database — and for programs that treat loyal customers especially well and reach out to unhappy ones before they take their money elsewhere.

Until next time, take it up a notch!

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