Cover Story: Let Customers Be Your Guide
The research revealed deep differences in how certain segments of HMS customers wanted to be engaged. Those differences can provide opportunities to upsell or cross-sell with high conversion rates and reveal ways to dramatically, improve the customer experience.
"What we truly heard from our customers," says Stein, "was, 'We would be interested in engaging with you, we will build this with you, if you do X, Y and Z.' … It was the very specific details about what customers desired or demanded from that relationship that would make it true engagement."
Roman explains, "As the conversation evolved from [consumers] saying 'Hey, it's not about tweaking the renewal series; it's about engaging with me throughout the year, starting with how you treat me and how you greet me at the very point I enroll,'" ERDM began asking in the interviews, "What does engagement mean, and how would you define value?" It found that HMS' customers really wanted communications tailored to their individual preferences.
"For some folks, an outbound phone call was a statement of huge caring and attention and value. But somebody in the next conversation could say 'I hate outbound telemarketing,'" says Roman. Some customers were interested in receiving regular emails from HMS if they contained tips about subjects that applied to them (such as maintenance tips for the type of heater they had), but not if they provided useless information (people in Minnesota, for example, did not want to hear about swimming pools). "You can't generalize that," he says. "That's an individual opt-in, profile-driven guide that has to be elicited and then captured in a contact management system and used to drive the touch or suppress the touch, per that individual."
Those results also showed HMS that its customers were willing to share information to improve their engagement with the company. "They were willing to share with us preference information—which we hadn't collected from a contact standpoint in the past—to allow us to communicate with them on a frequency and on a contact strategy basis the way they wanted to," says Stein. That level of preference went down to specifics such as, "I want to receive monthly communication from you, and I'm someone who wants to get maintenance tips." Or, the request could be for "Energy efficiency updates: Those are the things I might want to receive, and I want to receive them on a quarterly basis. And, oh, by the way, I like all my correspondence from you via email."