The Reality that is Customer Contact Fatigue

Monday 15th, February 2016

tired people photo

Every business wants to communicate with its customers – trying to sell their products, any which way.

So much so, that it has reached a point where it has ended up making customers sick and tired because all they seem to do is face a barrage of messages touting irrelevant products and services and a sea of marketing messages that they are quite happy to do without.

To optimise relationships and counter communication issues, most businesses have invested in Customer Relationship software. According to Gartner, companies spent as much as $22 billion on customer relationship management (CRM) software last year. Through this enterprise software (which includes a broad set of applications and software), businesses are able to manage customer data and customer interaction along with automating marketing and customer support. All this to make meaningful one-to-one interactions with customers a reality. But some say that all this has done is to help companies disappoint their customers faster and more efficiently—anytime and anywhere!

Avenues and opportunities are seemingly endless. Companies can engage with their customers through the Web, Social media websites such as Facebook, smartphones, text messages, etc. Every new technology opens up a new avenue – a new way to connect with customers – to sell, serve and strengthen relationships. But all this seems to do is to add complexity and cost for many organizations.

To make things worse, poor execution leads to unpredictable and less acceptable results. Content that is created may not be suitable or fit all channels. What was created for one mode may be “forced to fit” another. It doesn’t give the customers the flexibility to interact in a channel of their choice. Many times, customers receive irrelevant, redundant or out-of-sync messages.

And customers just don’t like it – who would? Do you blame them?

  • Companies need to re-think this whole process of communicating with their customers. They need to move from a “communicate with” position to an “engage with” one.
  • Companies need to re-engage with customers – not by “creating a communications campaign,” but by spending time trying to understand what your customers are trying to say to you. You think about the people who use your products or services. You begin to see that their need for a certain product or service is actually intertwined with their desires for certain types of experiences.
  • Once you truly understand the customer, you can start to make them happy. Not by chasing after them with pitches and advertising but by teasing them into chasing after you. This is the first step.
  • It almost seems as if companies have forgotten how to talk to people, and are now almost forced to interact with them through machines. And while all companies collect consumer data, not everyone has a complete understanding of the customer as a human being.
  • And the customer of today is very sophisticated and smart. They can see right through manipulative ad campaigns. So much so that even straightforward pitches are sometimes viewed with suspicion.
  • Channels are growing and with it, customer touch points – there is the physical store, the web, mobile, catalogue, phone orders, partner sales (such as in flight duty free shopping) and vending machines. The big issue is to maintain a consistent communication with the customer across all channels.

According to an Economist Intelligence Unit study, 38% of respondents felt that it was a problem managing differing pricing and margin strategies over varying channels. Over a third of the people had trouble communicating and interacting coherently and consistently with customers across channels. All this results in confusion in the customer’s mind, erosion of customer loyalty and declining sales.

There needs to be a total paradigm shift when it comes to customers. No longer should they be seen as targets to sell things to, but as human beings to engage with. Know your customers. Really know them. Understand them. Know what they like and what they don’t. Know when they would like to talk to you and when they would rather be left alone. After this kind of understanding is achieved, and only after it is, can companies avoid customer contact fatigue and send the right message at the right time to the right customer.

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