Ahead of the Curve
Taking this a step further, he notes, is the optimization of communication across all channels, so it is cross-functional. For example, says Schmitt, do you make an offer to a customer who has defaulted on payments? Or, what type of offer should you send a customer who may have recently registered a complaint with the customer service center? "This is part of the promise of CRM," explains Schmitt.
2. Real-Time Applications
A key piece of the marketing equation that has for the most part remained elusive is when to market, points out Muller, who anticipates leading technology vendors will start working on this part of the equation.
Event- or trigger-based marketing tools initiate contact with a customer according to predetermined business rules, and are becoming more sophisticated and complicated. Muller says he sees more marketers moving to embed these technologies within their current infrastructure to turn opportunities into sales. For example, say a customer has purchased a specific product on a monthly basis. A month goes by and no purchase is made. This period of inactivity triggers an e-mail message to the customer that may promote a special offer, or simply remind him that his product supply may be running low.
Real-time decisioning is an automated system that compares incoming data with predefined business rules or decision strategies to determine a rapid response, while interacting with that customer. This enables marketers to determine the optimal offer for each individual based on a combination of demographics, sales history and behavior.
Schmitt provides an example of how the technology works: A customer initiates contact with the customer service center. The marketer now has an opportunity to make the best offer using information it currently has about the customer in its database, as well as the information it is gaining during the actual transaction in the call center. A real-time decisioning system will feed the call center rep the most appropriate offer for that specific individual from a pool of offers, as determined by pre-set business rules.