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COVID-19: Build and sustain customer relationships remotely

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DMS Covid

We blogged about the need to react quickly and accurately to change already as this is one of the key ways you can adapt your operations. A second is to ensure that you can build and sustain your customer relationships even as your customers are more remotely and have fewer in-person interactions with you.

The new era is going to require much more automation to support remote interactions. Customers are going to be more remote. They’re going to be under more stress too, so quicker responses will be more valued than ever. And the staff you would need to support a manual decision may be remote themselves, making manual responses problematic. Automated customer interactions can’t be cookie-cutter, though. Customers still want to feel that you know them and value them. You can’t pick between automated and personalized when your customers want both. And you still need the flexibility we talked about earlier, because all of this is a moving target.

An organization we work with recently began investing in building and sustaining customer relationships online, having for years relied on in-person interactions. When prospective customers start looking online at information about products, this organization makes sure it presents the right first product. Using everything it knew about the prospect, it presented targeted (and compliant) “first best offers” to these clients. Engaged customers could buy the product online but it was a relatively complex product to buy so many would choose, in the end, to talk to someone. So now the lead, the initial offer and the partially completed application are all routed to the right point of contact. Rapid feedback on customer behavior and flexible automation let them keep the initial conversation feeling personalized and relevant even as products, marketing campaigns and the day-to-day business context changes. The automation meant that customers could choose to no people when automation was what they wanted and could be routed to the right person when it wasn’t.

This organization applied this same mindset to helping its agents in this new, online engagement approach. Agents used to in-person meetings are threatened by digital channels, and by fully online direct-to-consumer competitors. Helping agents manage their customer portfolio, identifying opportunities to engage with existing customers around special events or campaigns, and helping the agents target customers and prospects precisely all help agents add value to the customer relationship, even as it becomes an increasingly electronic one.

To deliver systems that engage remotely with customers in this way requires automation of the underlying decision and the targeted application of machine learning. You can’t just look at the data though, you need to combine what the data tells you with what your expertise tells you and filter all this through the current (changing) state. The analytic insight you develop must be in service to the customer treatment decisions you are trying to make. Decision modeling will frame up the analytics you need and, integrated with business rules, deliver targeted customer treatment across all your channels.

We have a proven, established way to build systems that will engage customers remotely and we’ll be posting regularly on ideas and approaches and producing some great content. To stay up on it, sign up for our newsletter.

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