As technology has advanced, digital communications have become an integral tool in the arsenal of organisations, replacing the outdated ‘one-size fits all’ approach to satisfying customer needs. From Artificial Intelligence (AI) to chat bots, smart apps to smart speakers, new technologies are allowing businesses to deliver targeted communications that can maximise benefits and drive cost savings.
Evolving technology and digital communications
Communication is about offering choice. A few years ago it was all about ‘big data’ but unless it can be interpreted and provide meaningful, actionable insight it’s just more data. The evolving technology landscape now empowers companies to shape strategies that deliver individualised communications based on the analysis of such data, creating a more insightful, intuitive experience which better meets individuals’ personal expectations.
In a crowded marketplace, by investing shrewdly in the right technology, CFOs can equip marketing directors, allowing them to better understand aspects of data that may have previously gone unnoticed or been overlooked, providing a deeper and wider perspective of a company’s customer base.
For CFOs tasked with investing in new state-of-the-art technologies, such crucial insights into each customer and being able to understand their preferred customer journey – in what form, when and how they expect to digest information – can be extremely valuable as it can have an impact on both direct costs and increasing revenues.
The benefits of using smart communications with customers
Smart communications channels offer the distinct advantage of being able to analyse huge bands of data. Through analysis companies are better able to understand their client’s needs and ultimately help them deliver their communications strategy.
Technology is at the heart of any effective strategy. It means companies can offer choice and meet the demands of a diversifying client base. From multi-/omni-channel marketing campaigns to highly targeted group offerings, repetitive activity on notable anniversaries, notifications of macro factors affecting customers or notices of industry/sector regulation changes, all are likely to have an impact on customers.
As businesses grow their client base, reaching out to a greater number of clients with greater frequency, embracing and utilising technology can allow strategies to be instigated far more effectively with a lesser burden on human hours and the bottom line. This allows businesses to focus more on the quality of their service, often a key differentiator between offerings.
Many modern communications platforms offer a modular approach. The simplicity and low cost of adding and removing options means companies can trial new services or proposition enhancements without fear of expensive failures, leading to greater innovation. Flexible architectures, also means change can be localised, reducing the cost of testing and the risk of large scale failure.
It is perhaps little surprise then that smart communications channels are proving increasingly popular as a marketing tool and for data capture across a broad range of sectors aimed at offering clients and prospects new experiences.
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In the automotive industry, whilst dealerships will employ technology to send individualised reminders and updates to clients via multiple channels, some manufacturers have created a digital experience that not only markets their products online but creates a virtual showroom where the user can ‘view’ their new car, helping to reduce inertia and expedite the decision-making process.
Regardless of how they choose to interact with a brand, customers now expect an experience that is ‘joined up’ and ‘seamless’. There are certain sectors where this is more likely to be the case. Retail, for instance, has embraced digital far more successfully than, for example, financial services with the automotive industry somewhere in between.
This is perhaps due to retailers being less concerned with big-ticket items such as a car. However, there are leading players in the auto industry who – by using well-known online retail channels to sell their products – have been able to convince clients that their purchase is less big-ticket and more commodity. One major finding from this initiative was that the average profile of the online buyers of these cars went against expectation, thus opening up a series of new opportunities.
All customers are different, and it is crucial for CFOs tasked with potentially investing in both digital and traditional communications, understand that each wish to communicate and, indeed, be communicated with in the manner in which they feel most comfortable. The perception is that older generations, for instance, are more geared to paper-based communications, as this is what they know and are used to. For teenagers, it’s about social media, Apps and smart speakers but given choice, these generational lines blur.
Servicing all customers, therefore, is about creating the perfect mix across all mediums and accepting that increased diversity brings the need for a unified, branded communications approach.
By using advanced communications technologies, and tailoring it to individual needs, companies can balance both physical and digital channels to ensure digital communications, SMS messages, bespoke Apps, social media and printed correspondence all work together seamlessly in a multi-/omni-channel strategy to deliver maximum impact.
As customer expectations continue to evolve, the speed to market afforded by modern systems is likely to become much more of a differentiator for businesses, as companies who can react and adapt to change faster than their competitors will be able to seize market share.