Analytics and real-time in customer communication: The Moment of Truth
Real-time in digital customer communication? Is that just an illusion that customers have been led to accept? On the contrary! Real-time information processing can be a great opportunity for businesses, if used in the right context, at the right time. With help from analytics, this vision could soon become a reality.
“This may interest you too!” Customers of online platforms are familiar with these words. They see them as soon as they buy a product from a seller or browse on the platform for a while. It could be a jacket, a book or a suggestion for a vacation hotel. This product recommendation is generated automatically using a database that runs in the background and stores a history of the customer’s activity, such as what was looked at and what was ordered. Customers often get this suggestion for additional purchases a week later on their screens or via email — and see advertisements for products that they were interested in yesterday but not anymore. Is this the real-time customer relationship management that we expect in modern-day customer communications? “A successful use of real-time information would be if the algorithms used in analytics immediately recognized what the customer was searching for at the moment, what item he would buy at what price, and based on this knowledge, provided him with a specific, customized offer. With the help of analytics, this could be possible in milliseconds, and solutions of this kind could be used for all industries and channels,” explains Dirk Schäfer, Managing Director Analytics at Arvato CRM Germany.
Sophisticated automation functions, big data and analytics already enable highly customized customer communication in real time across channels and devices. “What’s required for that is the appropriate technical infrastructure and the willingness to implement it,” says Schäfer. If both are available, then offers could be shown in real time via face-to-face channels like the internet, tablets and smartphones, or through call-center agents and service terminals in branches. Both parties benefit from this immediate interaction — the business and its customers. The company benefits because, by communicating in real time, it can find out why a customer was interested in that specific product or service at that particular time, for example. So the company obtains more information about the context, life situation and needs of its customer at that very moment. With that information, it can make immediate decisions and state next best actions. Google describes these moments as moments of truth or “micro-moments” and distinguishes four categories:
The “I want to know” moment: This is when the consumer is searching for information about a product. That’s why it’s becoming more and more important for businesses to make the relevant content easy to find and user-friendly when such a moment arises.
The “I want to go” moment: This involves data on the location and movement of the customer. Businesses can improve the customer experience by enriching location-specific data with information on available stock, airline departure times, wait times at doctors’ offices or tables available at restaurants.
The “I want to do” moment: This is when customers are looking for instructions on how to use a particular product. Interesting and easy-to-find content can significantly increase brand loyalty.
The “I want to buy” moment: This is when businesses have the best chance of making a sale. These moments exist in all channels, but the use of mobile devices is of crucial importance: 93% of customers who use their tablet or smartphone to search for something also go on to buy it, according to results from Google’s “Mobile Path to Purchase” study.
For each particular context, a micro-moment arises: when the customer is researching something, looking for location-specific information, needs practical instructions, or is making a purchase. This is when the company should interact with the customer in real time. “But this isn’t possible without modern analytics,” Schäfer says. It is only through analytics that it is possible to determine when, where and which real-time offers should be presented to the customer in the first place. This will lead to better knowledge of customers, a closer relationship with them, higher sales, more follow-on business and quicker responses to changes in the market. But for this to happen, companies first have to recognize the moment of truth so they can then respond in real-time.