Friday, July 25, 2008

Trails and Triggers!

As marketers, our endless thirst for seeking to understand more about our customers often leads us to miss out on the information trail that a customer is leaving in her daily interactions with your brand.

There are two types of trails that are left by customers, the "Tangible" trails, distinguished by those that can be captured by your systems, and the "Intangible" trails that may be observed by your channels and customer facing colleagues.

The former would include her birthday, size of items purchased or time of shopping, value of salary credit into account etc., whereas the latter would include the details of other shopping bags she has carried into the store or the perfume she comes wearing in........

The challenge is two fold. Which of these trails are relevant for your business, and how can you act on them?

(Have come across one too many programmes in which customers receive birthday cards from brands who have not touched their lives for at least 11 months prior to that event! And even worse, these cards quite often bear signature stamps. These programmes are quite often templated and in my opinion a waste of time!)

Globally credit card issuers have leveraged "tangible" trails and defined trigger points to their business advantage quite well. Hence it is not too surprising to receive an offer for sales finance, when you've conducted a high value electronic item purchase. Now of course the challenge lies in when is it that I receive the offer? Is it an SMS the customer receives within a few seconds of the transaction or after a fortnight when the card statement is sent!

The larger challenge lies for organisations that can communicate with their customers cost effectively only when the customer walks in ( as mailing out coupons can be quite an expensive and time consuming process!)

Do you believe that systems and processes are attuned to pick up relevant customer trails, define accurate trigger points and communicate customer benefits in real-time?

Believe that a fair amount of investments are sunk into reward points and mailing costs. It would be refreshing to see business managers diverting some of those budgets into systems which would allow them to listen better and deliver greater value to their customers!

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