Customer Engagement Trends for 2017

Bah Humbug! It’s the Holiday Season. As the festive fun gets into full swing we’re kicking off with a vision of the future for marketers. Ebenezer Scrooge the miser was visited by three ghosts, past, present and future, and consequently chose to change his ways for the better. It’s a simple choice for marketers in 2017: Invest in customer relationships and customer engagement or face a bleak mid-winter and beyond. You simply can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to your relationships with your customers. Here’s a short story to help brands who value their customers to give something back.

The Ghost of Customer Past

Do you remember what the C and R in CRM stand for? CRM has gone back to its own roots and original mission, the customer relationship. You can have all the technology and gizmos in the world but if the customer relationship isn’t central to your values, culture and organisation, then you won’t improve those relationships. The brands who will be successful in 2017 have already stopped paying lip-service to the idea of customer centricity. They have been making the commitments and organisational changes necessary to place the customer at the centre of their brands. They have adopted a true outside-in perspective spanning all silos and touchpoints. They are already focused on long-term customer engagement and value.

If you’re not already, make 2017 the year to focus on the customer relationship, you’ll find it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

The Ghost of Customer Present

Every business is a Service Business now. Mainstream businesses in 2016 have come around to the ideas embodied by so-called disruptor brands like Uber. They have grasped the fact that customer relationships, and therefore understanding customers, really matters. The days of flogging products have gone. Your brand now only exists to serve your customers.

If you’re not already make 2017 the year your customers are being served, not sold to.

The Ghost of Customer Future – Key Themes for Customer Engagement in 2017

Your brand name on a gravestone? Your customers, like Tiny Tim, fading away to nothing? It doesn’t have to be that way. Scrooge changed. Tiny Tim did get to eat a lovely dinner after all. You and your customers can enjoy a merry 2017.

  • Customer Experience is the battleground – In 2017 Customer experience will become the battleground for competitive advantage. What’s your Battle Cry going to be? Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!
  • 2017 is the year of the customer journey. In 2017 the Year of the Rooster will be calling in a new dawn when the customer journey will become the primary lens through which businesses evaluate and measure customer experience.
  • Management of consumer data in 2017 will become a competitive advantage for brands who fully embrace how they manage customer preferences, privacy and customer data ownership. Driven by enlightenment as much as legislation, brands will stop seeing management of customer data as a burden and instead will see positive outcomes in terms of marketing performance, customer loyalty and brand engagement.
  • Marketers will become accountable for the end-to-end customer experience in 2017. A turkey doesn’t make a festive feast, it’s the whole spread that makes things Ding Dong Merrily. The remit for Marketing will move beyond traditional campaign-based marketing to incorporate the complete customer life cycle. Marketers will be judged by new metrics that reflect retention, engagement, and Lifetime Customer Value. As a result, CMOs will become responsible for any customer metric, not just sales and leads. These will be the Torch-bearer CMOs.
  • Engagement Marketing will be another string added to the Marketing bow in 2017. Marketers will add engagement marketing skills to their traditional campaign marketing CV. These ‘2-speed’ marketers will zoom ahead of those stuck in one gear. This is marketing in the context of customer journeys, where campaigns become invitations to a conversation with a brand, and marketers will be capable of both campaigning and engagement marketing. Be the Bradley Wiggins of Marketing, get out of a single gear.
  • Customer Engagement will become the front line of digital transformation in 2017. Businesses will begin to understand that customer engagement and digital transformation are inextricably linked, and that, in the digital economy, every business is a service business, as we’ve already said.
  • In 2017 the penny will finally drop with smart advanced tech. Remember Hal from 2001 Space Odyssey? “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Well, in 2017 marketers will finally grasp dumb machines are just that. The value of so called “intelligent” technologies (machine learning, AI, predictive technology, natural language processing, etc) lies in how it can transform business’ ability to understand and serve their customers better, working with them to meet their wants and needs and building long-term customer engagement. Trying to use this smart technology to coerce, collude and manipulate their customers’ behaviour, particularly through digital marketing and advertising, will nolonger be considered the right approach by enlightened brands.

Take heed. When it comes to customer engagement and customer relationships stop with the bah humbug. Learn what your customers really want and need. Serve that to them. Give them something they’ll value every time they come into contact with your brand. Just like The Grinch, you’ll discover it’s the strength of relationships which delivers the most rewards.