Giving the People What They Want
In a rapidly evolving market, offering choices is key!
Think back to a year and a half ago…did anyone expect the COVID-19 pandemic to remain such a lingering problem? I sure didn’t, yet here we are. It’s a little like a “one step forward, two steps back” situation—things seem to get a little better, (people start getting vaccinated, the numbers improve, restrictions are lifted) but then we encounter more hurdles. After all this time, the delta variant poses a new threat, and some people remain reluctant to receive the vaccine. Whether we’ll ever be able to put this stubbornly persistent pandemic fully behind us is anyone’s guess, but there is no question that various forces (including our old friend COVID) continue to re-shape the customer communications market.
The New Digital Reality
In the early days of the pandemic, all of us were plunged headfirst into the digital world regardless of how ill-prepared we might have been for it. In-person encounters ceased virtually overnight and many businesses struggled to support employees and customers alike in a new, increasingly digital reality. The customer communications industry was certainly not immune to these changes, which accelerated the shift in communication strategy from reducing risk and cost toward improving the customer experience.
When COVID-19 first entered the scene, many businesses responded by slashing their marketing budgets. Some also felt compelled to re-evaluate their marketing campaigns to ensure that the messaging was still appropriate in pandemic times. It was not uncommon for firms to send communications to their entire customer base to describe how the pandemic was affecting product and service offerings.
Most firms realize that it’s often easier and more profitable to do more business with your existing customers than it is to attempt to win new business from prospects. As a result, today’s businesses are placing an increased focus on retaining the customers they already have by delivering the best possible experience. Part of this experience involves superior digital messaging. Although many consumers were already in the process of making the transition to digital before COVID hit, the pandemic accelerated this shift. Things that normally would have taken years came to pass in mere months.
One Size Does Not Fit All!
Although an increasing number of consumers across all demographics are embracing digital, print remains a key communication channel. In today’s complex communication environment, no single channel will deliver the experience that an entire customer base—or even an individual customer—demands. Consider the following statistics from Keypoint Intelligence’s Annual State of Marketing Communications Survey:
- 72% of total consumer respondents agree that they want to decide which channels their providers use to communicate with them.
- Another 59% of consumers want to engage in a conversation with a business through the channels and devices that they prefer, regardless of how the original message was delivered.
- About 58% of respondents want the freedom to respond to a marketing message via the channel of their choosing, regardless of the channel through which the message was delivered.
Rather than lumping consumers into rigid categories based on demographics or preconceived notions, savvy communication providers must develop an omni-channel strategy that treats all customers as unique individuals. Even in today’s digital age, many consumers want print to be a part of their omni-channel experience. To deliver the channel-agnostic experience that consumers expect, businesses must invest in technology platforms and/or outsourcing partnerships that can be scaled to support a long-term vision for success. Regardless of whether they are printed or digital, all communications must be timely, relevant, and customized to the recipient. Furthermore, each customer touchpoint should be maximized to improve the customer experience.
What makes the customer experience so important? According to recent survey findings from Keypoint Intelligence, many consumers are dissatisfied with the current state of digital communications. In fact, nearly 30% of respondents to our most recent transactional communications study stated that they hadn’t gone paperless because they didn’t like the digital experience offered by the provider. Another 24% of respondents reported that they had actually switched back to paper bills/statements because of concerns about their personal data security during COVID-19. It is worth noting that consumers under the age of 45 were particularly likely to agree with these statements.
|Many Younger Consumers Are Dissatisfied with Digital|
Providers Are Getting the Message
For their part, savvy enterprises have come to understand that a superior customer experience can have a dramatic effect on retention rates. In conjunction with its research on consumer recipients of transactional communications, Keypoint Intelligence recently completed a separate survey of transactional communications providers. The statistics tell the story:
- When providers of transactional communications were asked to rank the importance of various business objectives, 44% considered improving the customer experience to be extremely important to their transactional communications strategy.
- Nearly 74% of enterprises had dedicated customer experience manager(s) on staff to oversee customer communications management (CCM) and the overall customer experience. This share is up from 64% during our 2019 study.
- The vast majority of firms (93%) had a customer experience strategy in place.
Although satisfied customers can become influential advocates for a business, dissatisfied ones can prove to be a costly liability. As a result, the customer experience is more important now than it has ever been.
Accommodating consumers’ changing preferences will become even more important as time goes on, as today’s consumers have come to expect communications that are relevant, targeted, and delivered via their desired channels. To be successful, providers of marketing and transactional communications must be prepared to deliver superior communications that prioritize customer choice while also providing a consistent experience across all channels, whether print or digital.
For more information about the complete findings from our annual Marketing Communications or Transactional Communications research, please contact your Keypoint Intelligence account representative or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.