5 Big Reasons Big Companies Fail at Effective Customer Engagement

It’s great to be the big kid on the block — fat budgets, top talent, vast infrastructure — all that goes with being an established, enterprise-class company.

Yet with all of that clout, national brands struggle with building and sustaining meaningful customer engagement. That’s because with all their technology and talent they don’t really know how to connect with individual customers, learn from the interaction, and make that knowledge available to other parts of the organization.

The result? Too many communications, communications about the wrong topic or no communication at all.

On its most basic level, customer engagement comes down to listening, learning and giving people what they want, when they want it. Seems simple, right?

But the way to accomplish that is the strategic management of customer consent and preferences - collecting, storing, and leveraging unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference, and frequency of communication. It is a complex challenge for big companies with multiple business units, departments, communication channels, and databases. Big companies never really address it — they just plod forward with half-measures and band-aids owned by different groups within the organization–with predictable results.

The top five reasons big companies fail at customer engagement?

1. It’s hard to organize and synthesize customer information when it flows through so many different channels.

Small companies can rely on a single website preference center or an ESP (email service provider) opt-out solution. However, large companies are faced with dozens, if not hundreds, of customer-facing systems and interfaces.

For big companies with multiple (and expanding) customer touchpoints, the solution must be a unified preference management system that connects to all channels and seamlessly aggregates information to present a holistic picture of the customer.

The customer doesn’t understand, nor care, about the divisions within the company’s walls and they want to provide their preference once and have it impact across the organization.

2. Each individual consent and preference collection point must be optimized for its unique situation.

Effective collection of preference relies on recognizing where the interaction is taking place.

In other words, a 22-question form performs miserably on a mobile device and is a detriment to customer experience, while a three-question cycle at the conclusion of a successful product support interaction may not be deep enough.

Large companies must develop a preference management that takes into account the distinction between each channel and type of interaction in order to deliver effective engagement intelligence.

3. Data can’t be siloed.

A big problem facing customer-centric enterprises is the necessity to centralize customer and preference management data and integrate with marketing databases, CRM systems, and third-party vendors in order to empower the organization for true customer engagement. This is easier said than done in an enterprise with legacy infrastructure that segregates information by department, product, region, and more. It’s not uncommon for these siloes to be further impacted by noncompatible technology.

Effective customer engagement relies on a single repository of customer and preference data and intelligent distribution to all appropriate parties within the enterprise.

It must take into account separation by time zones, languages, interaction categories, and more.

4. Preference and customer data must be collected and stored in line with evolving compliance requirements at the state, federal, and international level.

Hello GDPR!

In addition to building a technology infrastructure for preference management and knocking down the siloes that stand in its way, large companies must have the ability to collect, manage, and archive privacy choices for state, federal, international and industry regulations.

To compete in virtualized global marketplaces where overseas regulations — for example, GDPR — are every bit as relevant as domestic privacy and data security measures. The only way to assure compliance is by centralized control and management.

5. There is no “quick fix”.

Here’s an all-too familiar scenario: senior leadership recognizes the need for better, more efficient customer engagement and listed it as a priority and handed to IT for a feasibility and cost study.

The study reveals the preceding four challenges and returns with a gloomy report that it is prohibitively expensive, requires an unreasonable timetable, or is deemed impossible given the enterprise’s current infrastructure. Discouraged by the result, senior leadership shelves the initiative, only to return to it during the next budget/planning cycle. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Taken together, these challenges can delay or even defeat an earnest attempt to listen to and learn from prospects and customers. The key is an active recognition of the challenges that come with large-scale preference and consent management and a willingness to consider a holistic approach to addressing the problem.

Dojo Master and Chief Strategist at http://ligerpartners.com