Disconnected customer channels: Research report

Pitney Bowes Software has undertaken a major piece of research into the current state of customer communications channels. Research consultancy Opinion Matters conducted a survey of 250 CMOs and Marketing Directors in B2C companies with 1000+ employees across the UK, France and Germany; within Financial Services, Telecoms and Utilities. The aim of the survey was to discover how well integrated marketing strategies and market channels are and how relevant and consistent customer communications are across these channels.

Technology has provided a dizzying array of new communication channels that mean that we can receive information continually - "Always On Marketing". This increase in channels is no less pronounced in the corporate world where the research tells us almost all the organisations we surveyed are engaging to some extent with social networks to reach consumers, where more are starting to use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for marketing in conjunction with traditional channels.

With this ever growing number of channels being used, the survey overwhelmingly shows that the corporate preference is to have these channels integrated. However, it also shows that while this is an active goal the majority are still some way short of reaching integration. Barriers to achieving this include a lack of strategy, concern over channel security, inability to be consistent across channels and fear of confusing customers.

As a result customers are being lost though fragmented and inconsistent communications. For example, during on-boarding large numbers of customers are lost for many and varied reasons including fragmented ownership, no pertinent follow-up, and perceived lack of customer understanding.

The survey also looked at the sorts of practices that will drive greater customer engagement. For example the survey found that only a small minority of call centres are using predictive analytics and on screen prompts when talking to their customers, therefore missing the opportunity to engage more relevantly. Furthermore less than a quarter of organisations use location intelligent systems to provide specific location-based offers and services to their customers. Operationally the majority of organisations do not use sophisticated segmentation techniques, such as randomised control groups, to measure campaign effectiveness.

In this information age customers expect to be understood by their suppliers. They have preferences not only in what they want but in how and when they wish to engage. In order to achieve this, companies must ensure co-ordinated and integrated communications to place themselves in a position of advantage in terms of driving customer satisfaction, loyalty and therefore revenue. The research, however, suggests that for the majority of companies this standard of engagement is still some way off.