Guest Blogger Justin Honaman: The Relationship Imperative -- Measure, Learn, Act...Quickly!

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Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
If business is all about relationships, how are you managing the "swirl" that is our economic climate today? And how are you measuring customer behavior and leveraging these insights to maximize your customer interactions in these heady times?

If business is all about relationships, how are you managing the "swirl" that is our economic climate today? And how are you measuring customer behavior and leveraging these insights to maximize your customer interactions in these heady times? Until recently, one-to-one marketing was focused on creating customer transactions - buy a pair of pants from an outlet, receive an offer for a matching shirt and shoes; marketing technology (email marketing, campaign management, personalization engines) has evolved to help make the process more efficient. In today's volatile economy, integrated marketing initiatives must be focused on optimizing interactions versus driving transactions.

Strategies and resulting solutions must be effective at optimizing relationships as well as efficient at automating them. This requires the ability to create insight about customers, to provide it to decision makers quickly and in a meaningful format, and to leverage that insight at the point of customer interaction. This means that analytic and data mining capabilities must be in place to collect, clean, and interpret actionable data across the organization or set of linked business entities.

Analysis and Understanding - Insight Speed Is the True Measure
The database, data mart, or data warehouse is key to receiving and managing large volumes of customer interaction and sales data. Although the data management infrastructure is critical, it is the front-end reporting user interface that truly allows the data to be leveraged for creating effective segmentation and cross-sell offers, improving retention, identifying strategies for pursuing new customers, and personalizing online and offline media communication messages.

With changes in the economy and cost pressures taking shape inside of most organizations, channel decisions are receiving increased focus as decisions regarding investment in direct mail, telemarketing, email, TV, radio, and print advertising are evaluated for cost-benefit.

Marketers need the ability to react quickly to market conditions, no matter how much data they need to work with. Marketers must be able to receive data in a timely fashion (daily, weekly, monthly) and be able to access it quickly through tools that are capable of applying analytics.

Integrating data sources in Excel or Access is absolutely inefficient and requires significant time for marketing analysts to process the files and make sense of the insights. Unfortunately, many organizations continue to develop high-octane, mega-spreadsheets and Access databases with GUI front-ends. The result is disparity in numbers, disagreement over insights, frequent miscommunication as numbers are rolled-up for higher-level reporting, and, of course, campaign inefficiency. Even more significant is that many organizations have lay off individuals who developed "one-off" analytic solutions leaving the manager or next analyst trying to figure out a set of spreadsheets or confusing database with no ability to report, analyze, and act efficiently. This can impact campaign velocity. Organizations are not able to deploy as many campaigns as would be possible due to lack of timely insights and analysis. The result is fewer campaigns and potentially lower ROI on campaigns that are deployed as the regularity decrease leads to fewer lessons learned from earlier campaigns.

Now Is the Time to Act
As strategic investment decisions are being made in a tighter financial economic environment, consider investing in tools, techniques, and the right people to generate insights and take action to win. Those companies that act quickly will be around tomorrow. Those that don't will quickly be left behind.

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Justin Honaman is the business development director, sales force solutions, for Coca-Cola Bottler Sales and Service, as well as a 1to1 Media Editorial Advisory Board member. Honaman recently authored Make It Happen! Live Out Your Personal Brand.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION