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customer service

Building Customer Loyalty Through Comms? You Need a Customer Contact Framework

Calculate your ROI with this Excel-based Return on Customer Retention Estimator
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Using the Value Map and calculating Marketing Allowable puts you in good stead as you manage your customer relationships. But, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there – so we need to have some way of determining when the right messages will be sent to each customer – we basically need a traffic cop to make sure that the right message gets sent at the right time.

In our approach we call this the Customer Contact Framework or CCF.  The CCF is not one function but three different functions that continually interact to prioritise and control all aspects of the customer contact.

These 3 elements constantly interact to set priorities.

The CCF is critical to optimizing resource allocation because it controls who will be contacted, when and how.  If you do not manage this carefully you may over contact customers and waste resources – perhaps sending out messages at the wrong time, too often or not often enough.

We know from experience that there is an optimum ‘inter-communication period’ that maximises the return you receive from marketing communications. This graph shows the impact of changing intervals between emails on customer value found in a Wharton study for example;

X axis is days between emails, Y axis is customer value

Note how customer value plummets if there is too much email contact and it drifts downwards if there is not enough. Managing this is the job of the CCF.

The three elements of the CCF are:

Contact rules: the overarching rules that determine when to contact your customers.  For some organisations their entire CCF consists of just one or two golden contact rules such as “never contact a customer more that once every 60 days.”  While this is safe it is also far from optimal; it precludes wave campaigns for example. Such as when sending linked contact strings perhaps a direct mail piece followed by an outbound contact and a second direct mail piece; a 60 day rule is not useful and can be downright counter productive.

When constructing your rules think about them as an evolving set of guidelines.  Items to consider in your rule set include:

Rules that manage contacts for once-off occasions such as not contacting customers in the last week before a major election because of the high volume of election related direct material that customers are already receiving at that time.

Geographic rules that relate to state based variations in contact rules.

Rules for linking strings of contacts (campaign strings) and a governance hierarchy for this type of contact series, e.g. a campaign consisting of a string of three education contacts.

Rules that relate to annual or time of year events such as not contacting customers between Christmas and New Year because of low conversion rates at that time.

Rules that quantify the mix, number of days between, and maximum number of contacts, by medium, by segment, by cell, by campaign type (education, retention, cross sell, up sell, mandatory).

The second element of the CCF is the contact calendar:

The contact calendar is a segment by segment, cell by call plan for the contacts that a customer will receive over their lifetime with the company.  This contact calendar should include all stages of the customers life cycle: new, existing, exiting and exited.  Some of the contacts in the existing phase of the customer lifecycle may repeat but that is fine.  Where you have trigger based campaigns such as save teams or product offers make sure that you include them.

The way to construct one of these contact calendars is to follow the customer lifecycle for each segment and plot each of the contacts.  By doing this you are changing the way that a customer receives communications from your organisation from an adhoc set of contacts to a planned and managed approach – they receive the right contact at the right time.

This obviously supports your optimization efforts by ensuring  that you do not over or under contact a customer and that you receive the maximum value from each of them.

The last critical element of the CCF is the contact history.  This is a comprehensive history of every attempted, unsuccessful or successful contact that your organisation has had with the customer.  If should include the campaign and  campaign string details, channel and contact type.  It should include the outcome of each contact.  Using this information you will be able to fine tune the other elements of the customer contact.

So they are the three elements of the CCF that you need to create.  Using this approach we ensure we manage each customer contact and maximise the value received from it.

I've created an Excel based Retunr on Customer Retetnion Estimator so you can  perform ROI calculations on investments in Customer Retention. Download it Here

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