From marketing automation to the phone call that seals the deal

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Guest post by Luke Rees: In this “always-on” digital age, where we spend more time on the internet than we do sleeping, it’s easy for us as marketers to get swept along by the “always on” culture, trapped in a frame of mind which says that customer interactions only happen online.

It’s true that the online world allows brands to engage with their customers like never before and gain highly specialized insights into their behavior. But it’s not wise to only focus on the online experience. In fact, Google research shows that when making an online purchase, 61% of consumers state being able to pick up the phone and call a business as the most important aspect. When we consider that Brits spend £582 million online each week, and the overall US spend online per year is $240 billion, we can see how important it is to respond to customer needs in person.

A key factor which businesses have started to appreciate is that even though customers like to research products online, people still want the option to speak with a real person before making a decision. Research from ResponseTap, a call tracking software company, shows that despite living in an always-on digital world, human interaction is still highly valued by the modern customer: in fact, 64% of people get frustrated when they are only able to interact with a company online.

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Consumers do most pre-purchase research on their own initiative and interact with a brand when they are ready to buy. However for many businesses, getting through to a sales rep or contact centre agent is the point at which the brand promise does not live up to the customer’s expectations.

The human voice should offer a vital element in constructing brand identity, as a reassuring voice helps to develop a bond of loyalty between a business and the customer. However, too many businesses are failing to meet the expectations of their customers when it comes to offline customer service.

At a time when marketers are using sophisticated marketing automation software and gathering detailed customer insight through web analytics to create brand-enhancing customer journeys, this should not be happening. CRM and contact centres need to be working together in order to deliver the best customer experience, which will help attract new customers and retain existing ones.

Creating a seamless experience should be the holy grail of marketing automation, and for the first time, brands have the resources to build a complete view of the customer; they can offer the caller the information they want when they want it, build brand equity with the consumer, and increase sales conversion rates.

To do this, brands need to present themselves as one ‘on-brand’ body, so that voice (the contact center) and message (website / branding) match up. This means the end of ‘press 1 for x… press 2 for z…’ as we start to understand all the parts of the business that impact the consumers’ online journey.

Marketers will know they are doing their job right when a customer browsing for a product picks up the phone and is instantly rerouted to an agent who understands their specific needs. After speaking to that well-informed sales rep, the customer will make their purchase more quickly and with confidence.

About the author: Luke is a digital marketing executive from London who writes extensively about technology, the online customer experience, and search marketing. You can contact him through LinkedIn and Twitter.

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