The Future of Marketing and Customer Engagement – Introducing the Emerging and Rapidly Growing Practice of the Customer Defined Experience

Did you ever consider the following questions related to the future of marketing and customer engagement?:

  • What are the levels of progression of an organization’s customer engagement and marketing capabilities – from the most basic to advanced?

  • What percentage of companies fall into each customer engagement & marketing capability level?

  • What is beyond the current advanced level of customer engagement and marketing capability and the wave of the future?

  • How do you simultaneously and significantly reduce the overall cost of customer engagement and marketing delivery while also significantly increasing your overall customer engagement and marketing effectiveness?

  • What does the future look like in terms of increased customer engagement and marketing ROI?

  • What is the most effective method for creating maximized customer engagement?

If you did, then this blog is for you as it succinctly answers these questions and more.

Future Leading Practice: The Customer Defined Experience
Future Leading Practice: The Customer Defined Experience

The above chart depicts the 3 primary & existing levels of customer engagement sophistication as well as the wave of the future which is The “Customer Defined Experience”. These four (4)  levels of organizational customer engagement capability are as follows:

1) Level 1 – “Shotgun Customer Experience”, very unsophisticated, yet inexpensive. Practiced by approximately 25% of companies.

2) Level 2 – “Segmented Customer Experience”, somewhat sophisticated and moderately expensive. Practiced by a majority of companies, approximately 70%.

3) Level 3 – “1-to-1 Customer Experience”, very sophisticated & expensive, Practiced by <5% of companies.

4) Level 4 – “Customer Defined Experience  which is an emerging leading practice, only practiced by <01% of companies, but the number of companies that are moving toward this capability level is growing fast. I am predicting that this will be, by far, the most effective method in terms of both ROI and cost effectiveness.

The Customer Defined Experience, Marketing Illustration

The Customer Defined Experience Using Marketing as an Example

We will now isolate marketing as a functional example (vs. customer service, sales, etc.) to illustrate how the customer defined experience will be different than traditional marketing practices. The above chart depicts the traditional levels of marketing sophistication and the expected ROI of each level. The newest trend in marketing and customer experience is also revealed in future level called “Customer Defined Experience, Marketing”. Each level consists of the following marketing practices:

  • Level 1: Primary focus on “Shotgun” marketing (approximately 25% of companies). In this approach, companies  send the same offer to as many people as possible with the hope that some of them might take the offer being put forth. With this practice, companies send the same offer to customers and prospects, regardless of their unique interests, needs, wants, history, etc.

  • Level 2: Primary focus on “Segment Marketing” (approximately 70% of companies). This approach models the behavior and history of customers in order to group them into unique ‘tagged’ needs groups. They are then sent offers that appeal to that distinct segment group.

  • Level 3: Primary focus on “1-to-1 marketing” (<5% of companies). This approach combines sophisticated modeling techniques and artificial intelligence to ascertain the unique needs of each customer or micro-segments (depending on the level of marketing technology sophistication, pure 1-to-1 marketing might not be able to be achieved). Companies that use this level of sophistication are few and we can point to major credit card companies, Amazon, Google as models utilizing this type of approach.

  • Level 4: Future Emerging Practice “User Defined Marketing”. (<.01% of companies, but growing fast) Companies like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Marriott and Southwest Airlines are headed in this direction with the increasing querying of their customers on preferences, needs, wants, likes, etc. The extension of this is to allow customers to define their own experience – how/when they would like to be marketed to, by which channel, which content/tone they prefer, etc. As evidenced by increasing numbers of customer insights groups, this is the trend of the future. Instead of expending all of the effort in modeling/AI/etc. to attain 1-to-1 marketing which attains a 80+% match, why not ask your customers what they want/prefer which will ensure a 100% match to their needs nearly 100% of the time? Research I have conducted has indicated that 72% of customers want a more interactive ‘relationship’ with the companies they do business with, including defining their own customer-company experience – across all of their company touch-points: sales, marketing, customer service, warranty claims, etc. More on this point later in this article.

 

Customer Defined Experience, Marketing Example

Customer Defined Experience, Marketing Example

The above chart is arranged by the levels of marketing sophistication across the top with the following categories arranged on the left for each marketing level:

  • Primary Marketing Focus – What marketing activity do organizations at this level of capability primarily focus their efforts?

  • Marketing Proactivity, Analysis Main Focus: For each level of marketing capability, how proactive is the marketing organization and what is the major focus of their marketing analysis?

  • Primary Marketing Technology Enabler: For each level of marketing capability, what are the primary technology enablers in order for them to achieve their marketing goals?

  • Main Marketing Metric: For each level of marketing capability, what are the most important marketing metrics?

  • Expected Marketing Approach ROI: For each level of marketing capability, what is the expected ROI and return on marketing for following this approach.

Level 1 Capability -Shotgun Marketing

Level 1 Capability – Shotgun Marketing

Shotgun Marketing Practices

Shotgun Marketing Practices

 

Let’s examine the first level of marketing capability, that being Shotgun Marketing. These organizations have the following organizational characteristics:

Primary Marketing Focus: The primary focus for these organizations is to expand their pool of those who will receive their marketing promotions so that there will be likely someone in the mix who will be interested and respond to their canned & generic offer. I heard a comment from a marketing organization I worked for whereby the general manager (overall leader) of the business actually said to me – “just widen the list and I don’t care if Mickey Mouse is on the list, as long as we have 1,000,000’s of folks to send our e-mail to.”

Marketing Proactivity, Analysis Main Focus: The main orientation and focus for organizations at this level is generally a reactive,  whereby the main focus is post campaign execution analysis and ‘seeing how we did in terms of number of responses they had to their offer(s)’.

Primary Marketing Technology Enabler: As you would expect at this level of marketing capability, technology  is generally very basic, rudimentary and inexpensive and would typically include simple and flat file (i.e. Comma Separated Value (.CSV) files) list generation using MS Access or Excel for list generation and very similar and simple spreadsheet type tools for post campaign analysis.

Main Marketing Metric: Since the focus noted above is reactive and post campaign focused, the main metric almost obsessed on by organizations at this marketing capability level is response rates (vs. true sales lead creation rates and actual conversion rates).

Bottom Line with Shotgun marketing organizations: With approach you save $$ by relying on very unsophisticated marketing personnel, processes, technology but this approach rarely produces a high marketing ROI with response rates generally in the 1-2% range due to the inherent high outbound volume. This approach also annoys customers and marketing recipients with mostly irrelevant offerings, products, services, etc., customer risking opt-outs, complaints, ignoring any/all offers by customers/prospects from the same (annoying) company, etc.

Level 2: Segment Marketing
Level 2 Capability: Segment Marketing
Segment Marketing Practices

Segment Marketing Practices

The 2nd level of marketing capability, is Segment Marketing. These organizations have the following organizational characteristics:

Primary Marketing Focus: The primary focus for these organizations is to ensure that the right marketing and sales offers are deployed against the appropriate segment group in order to ensure a marketing lift vs. shotgun marketing practices. An example of this is sending the frugal buyer segment offers for saving $$ by buying quantity of product or by sending offers for products that are discounted (i.e about to be discontinued products) vs. full price products.

Marketing Proactivity, Analysis Main Focus: The main orientation and focus for organizations at this level is generally what I call a ‘retrospective plus’ organization whereby the main focus is post campaign execution analysis and determining the quantitative results (response metrics, plus  perhaps ROI metrics) PLUS the main root cause analysis as to why the campaign yielded in these quantitative results.

Primary Marketing Technology Enabler: At this level of marketing capability, technology in use is fairly sophisticated such as using SAS for building segment models and customer deciles and tools for campaign execution like Salesforce.com and post campaign analysis tools like Adobe and Tableau.

Main Marketing Metric: Since the focus noted above is quasi-reactive and post campaign, the main metric  obsessed on by organizations is overall campaign and segment level response rates as well as ROI if the organization has built a direct response attribution model for campaigns (matching campaign responses to actual customer purchases).

Bottom Line with Segment marketing organizations: By utilizing this approach you spend more $$ by relying on somewhat sophisticated marketing personnel, processes and technology.  This  approach also produces a higher marketing ROI than basic shotgun marketing with response rates generally greater than the 3% range. This approach also ensures segments and marketing recipients within those segments are receiving mostly relevant offerings, products, services, etc. in respect to their needs, wants, preferences, etc.

Level 3 Capability: 1-to-1 Marketing
Level 3 Capability: 1-to-1 Marketing

1-to-1 Marketing Practices

The 3rd level of marketing capability is 1-to-1 Marketing. These organizations have the following organizational characteristics:

Primary Marketing Focus: This strategy strives to ensure that the right marketing and sales offers are deployed against the appropriate individual customer (vs. segment groups)  in order to ensure additional marketing lift vs. segment marketing practices. An example of this is recommending a product that uniquely suits and individual customer’s needs when they are your website for another reason (customer service, billing, warranty claim, etc.).

Marketing Proactivity, Analysis Main Focus: The label is place on organizations at this capability level is generally what I call a ‘proactive predictive’ organization whereby they are recommending items to customers in real-time based on their specific needs profile. The analysis focus of this type of organization is real-time algorithmic learning by analyzing the effect of the real-time offers and then adapting algorithms to further refine the offer (e.g. slightly different product, slightly different price, better warranty coverage, etc.)

Primary Marketing Technology Enabler:  The technology in use for 1-to-1 marketing is very sophisticated and correspondingly expensive.  The goal is to use artificial intelligence for building individual customer profiles based on observed customer behavior.  Automated response engines are then used for real-time customer interactions and offer generation as well as ‘adaptive learning’ algorithms based on offer acceptance/rejection.

Main Marketing Metric: Since the focus noted in 1-to-1 marketing is proactive and real-time, the main metric is customer longitudinal behavior and associated key metrics like lifetime value, loyalty rates, etc.

Bottom Line with 1-to-1 marketing organizations: With this approach you spend a great deal more $$ up-front by relying on very sophisticated artificial intelligence with automated customer analytics and offer engine technology.  This approach does produce a much higher marketing ROI than segment marketing with response rates conservatively greater than the 8-10+% range.  This approach also ensures customers and marketing recipients are receiving extremely relevant offerings, products, services, etc. in respect to their needs, wants, preferences, etc.

Level 4 Capability: Customer Defined Marketing

Level 4 Capability: Customer Defined Marketing

Customer Defined Marketing Practices

Customer Defined Marketing Practices

The 4th level of marketing capability is The Customer Defined Marketing (& Experience). These organizations have the following organizational characteristics:

Primary Marketing Focus: The primary focus here is to ensure, for those customers who are willing to co-define their own experience with your company and brands, that there is an opt-in conduit whereby customers can self-define what type of marketing and customer experience they will have across all touch-points. Examples of this is allowing customers to define, through their own personalized ‘preference portals’, customer experience parameters such as the following:

1) Their tolerable periodicity of how often they want to be marketed to;

2) Selecting the channels they prefer for marketing, customer service, product recalls, etc. ;

3) Preferred time of day, week that they would like to receive marketing, communications;

4) When it is warranted to override their current opt-out settings (i.e. critical product defects notifications).

5) The specific types of content customers are interested in subscribing to;

6) The types of offers customers would like to receive – closeouts, higher end products, types of products/services, etc.;

7) …Many more customer defined parameters.

By enabling these customer-defined preferences above, you are approaching 100% in terms of ensuring the customer receives the right offer, by the right channel, at the right time, etc.

Marketing Proactivity, Analysis Main Focus: The main orientation and focus for organizations at this level of (future) capability is generally what I call a ‘proactive, holistic, continuous’ organization whereby the company is continuously seeking to deliver the desired customer experience with the goal from each customer is rating the company as being rated as extremely open, engaging, encouraging proactive listening, is a good and reliable brand partner, drives high levels of customer satisfaction, etc.

Primary Marketing Technology Enablers: With this level of marketing capability, the technology is not as sophisticated (or expensive) as in 1-to-1 marketing, but requires a paradigm shift back to aligning with the basic premise that the customer is always right and enabling customers to self-define their preferred marketing and overall customer experience through preference portals (enabling the self-defined experience) and through business process rule workflow engines like Pega Systems to deliver the customer defined experience.

Main Marketing Metric: Since the organizational orientation as noted above is proactive and continuous, the main metric almost obsessed on by organizations at this marketing capability level will be ongoing levels of customer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty.

Bottom Line with Customer Defined Marketing (& Experience) organizations: With this approach you spend less $$ by relying on sophisticated marketing personnel, processes, and technology.  The strategy  is expected to produce a much higher marketing ROI than all other marketing capability levels by enabling the customer defined experience and inherently having 100% accuracy rate (customer defined needs/preference = delivered customer marketing/experience).  This approach also ensures customers and marketing recipients are receiving TOTALLY (self-defined)  relevant and preferred offerings, products, services, and communications.

In implementing this solution, companies will have to take into account the following considerations:

1) Not all customers will want to opt into defining their own experience. By using lucrative opt-in incentives companies have been able to achieve nearly 70% participation rates by customers. The remaining customers can be managed by simultaneously utilizing any of the two previous capability levels of segment marketing and/or 1-to-1 side-by-side with customer defined marketing.

2) Delivering a unique customer experience, once defined, will be difficult. By utilizing automated work-flow and business rules engines in conjunction with marketing automation and service automation tools, pathways (e.g. customer use cases) can be set up to automatically deliver the desired customer experience for sets of customers with the same defined preferences.

3) The customer really doesn’t know what they want. I constantly hear  from business leaders and CxOs that the customer doesn’t really know what they want/need so why waste the time and expense to ask them. These are the same executives who are shocked when I provide customer insights or focus group feedback that consistently and totally contradicts their own perception of how the customer perceives their company and brand(s). I applaud the business leader brave enough to ask for these insights since the majority of business leader tout their great pulse on their customer base to internal stakeholders without ever validating these claims with actual customers. In addition, customers today are extremely savvy, sophisticated and aware and want to be in control of their own company/brand experience.

4) Customer won’t really spend the time to tell us what they need/want. A customer insights group I helped developed has 5,000 current members who are required to volunteer several hours a week providing a Tier 1 US bank with feedback on different pre-market launch products, services and approaches. There are another several thousand on a waiting list waiting to join this insights group to volunteer several hours a week to provide company/brand insights. Additionally, the loyalty level of this insights group toward the bank is 57% higher than non-members with members providing verbatim feedback on their participation in the insights group as follows:

1) “Finally a bank that listens to its customers”

2) “We consider bank {xyz} to be a great brand partner”

3) “{xyz} bank totally breaks the paradigm of most ivory tower banks just throwing products at you to buy, they actually care about our opinions and listen to us”

4) “They actually give us feedback on how our suggestions are shaping their future products and services – WOW!”

Therefore, the bottom line is that customers today are very eager to become a brand-partner provided you ask them, allow their direct company-brand participation.

Expected Marketing ROI Per Capability Level
Expected Marketing ROI Per Capability Level

The above graphic points to the fact that, with every increase in marketing sophistication and accuracy in providing your customers and prospects what they need/prefer, the increase in ROI also rises dramatically. The holy grail of this is the practice of Customer Defined Marketing and the abandonment of the expense and exercise of hypothesis building and refinement (iteratively guessing at what your customers want/need) and simply providing a conduit in order that your customers tell you precisely what they want/need/prefer. My research has shown that over 70% of a typical sophisticated customer base is more than willing to tell you what they want/need from your company.

Join the ranks of market leader like Wells Fargo, Marriott, Southwest Airlines, Ritz-Carlton, Bank of America and many more joining the customer defined experience future who query their customers on their wants, needs, preferences, likes/dislikes, etc.

Therefore, instead of your company spending a great deal of $$ on ever more sophisticated hypothesis building (intelligent guessing) what your customers want and prefer, just simply ask them and join the ranks of these market leaders that are participating in the emerging practice of the future – the customer defined experience.

The Basic S4 (S**4) Building Blocks to Creating and Implementing an Effective Customer Strategy

4S - Customer Strategy Building Blocks

4S – Customer Strategy Building Blocks

 

The following blog article will succinctly and effectively answer the following questions as related to developing and deploying an effective customer strategy:

  • What are the basic building blocks of an effective customer strategy ecosystem?

  • What is the function of each process in this customer delivery ecosystem?

  • What are the critical questions that must be answered by each function in this ecosystem?

  • How can you develop an effective customer strategy that delivers maximized customer satisfaction simultaneous to maximized profitability?

  • What is the checklist to ensuring your customer strategy and delivery is effective?

The Building Blocks of the Customer Strategy Life Cycle

The Building Blocks of the Customer Strategy Life Cycle

 

Above are the basic building blocks to delivering an effective customer experience.  Each process is designed to work in an ongoing continuous ecosystem (loop) in order to deliver a personalized customer experience that matches the customer’s current and future needs, preferences, etc.

Let’s examine each process and how it supports the overall infrastructure model.

  • Segment – the analogy for the segment process is that the more and differentiated customer knowledge you have, the better you will be able separate customers into unique needs groups in order to deliver a unique experience that they truly value.

  • Separate – Once you have effectively segmented your customers and prospects into unique needs groups, you can then start to separate them in order to deliver differentiated and 1-on-1 treatments that are uniquely valuable to each of those customer segment groups.

  • Satisfy – The next step in the process is to deliver content and programs that deliver value, not only to the needs of the overall segment group, but also delivers value to every customer sub-segment within the overall segment group via program sub-segment delivery structures. This is accomplished by delivering customized 1-to-1 customer programs that effectively leverage the unique customer insights gathered (history, needs, preferences, likes, dislikes, previous pain points, etc.).

  • Stratify – The last step in this foundational process is to develop program that migrate customers from low value segments to ever increasing higher value segments. The goal of this process to increase customer’s overall spend, overall share of wallet with the company and overall loyalty and brand ‘stickiness’ such that migrating to a competitor and defecting becomes increasingly difficult. In addition, the migration of customer to higher value segments should also increase the customer’s brand advocacy ranking such that there is a correlation between higher value customer segments and their likelihood to be more likely brand super-advocates {see blog on this topic titled “Achieving Market Leadership by Effectively Managing Customer Loyalty and Advocacy ” : Achieving Market Leadership by Effectively Managing Customer Loyalty and Advocacy  }

The 4S Customer Capabilities

The 4S Customer Capabilities

 

Critical Questions Answered by Each Process in the Above Customer Delivery Ecosystem:

  • Segment – What specific data elements and insights can we leverage or collect to increase our ability to develop unique customer treatment groups.

  • Separate – Which customer groups does it make sense to develop and deliver differentiated treatment strategies based on profitability models?

  • Satisfy – What are the optimal customer treatment strategies that can simultaneously optimize customer profitability, loyalty, brand advocacy and customer growth objectives?

  • Stratify – How do we deliver a progressive and tiered customer program to differentiate ourselves vs. our competitors and grow our market share?

Summary: You might read many complex articles on what a good customer strategy should be based on, but the above basic foundational building blocks are a simple way to start thinking about your customer ecosystem and what corporate capabilities need to be put in place to deliver effective customer and market success.

Managing Customer Life Stages and Events Can Super-Charge Your Marketing Effectiveness

Why Knowing Your Customer’s ‘Life Stage’ & Associated Events are Crucial to Delivering Effective Marketing

{Click on Chart for a Larger Image}

overview
Life Stage Overview

Customer Life Stage Marketing Can Help You Deliver the Right Promotions with the Right Offers, at the Right Time and Via the Right Channel

Here are some important questions to bring into perspective how important it is to track and recognize your customer’s life-stages and events:

  • Would you forget to celebrate a school graduation for an important relative?
  • Would you forget to celebrate the birthday of a spouse or significant other?
  • Would you forget to recognize the birth of the first child of a couple that is close to you?
  • Would you miss noticing the retirement of a person that is very special to you?

If not, then why would you miss these important milestones for your valuable and long-time customers as these all represent significant and extremely meaningful life-stage events for them?!

A Statement on Life-Stage Marketing to Remember: “Marketing without Considering Your Customer’s Life Stages is Comparable to Marketing to Them With A Blindfold On”

For this reason, your segmentation strategy must take into account an array of customer profile variables including customer life stages. The following chart depicts how customers follow normal life stages and are grouped into life stage segments. As customers evolve to the next life stage segment, their consumer spending evolves and generally increases until they reach the most mature life stages. {Click on Chart for a Larger Image}:

Customer Life Stage Segments

Customer Life Stage Segments

As your customers age and evolve through their normal life-cycles, their customer profile changes along with this evolution including:

1) Needs & Preferences

2) Propensity to spend at higher levels 

3) Desire for higher quality products and services

4) Growing insensitivity to higher product pricing in exchange for premium service

The next chart highlights the significant life stage events that are associated when a customer migrates from one life stage segment to another. These are the life-events you should track and recognize in order to build stronger and more meaningful relationship with your customers. Customers have reported that they feel “appreciated” or “valued” 31% more from companies that take the time to acknowledge a significant life stage event vs. those who do not recognize these events.  {Click on Chart for a Larger Image}:

Customer Life Stage Events

Customer Life Stage Events

How do you obtain insights into the above major customer life events? The simple answer is that you ask them. Customers are very willing to share their preferences and life events since volunteering this information builds the potential for a better relationship with your company. This also demonstrates that, as a company, you care and listen to your customers. 

By using preference and life event subscription portals, world-class companies allow their customers take control of their relationship with your company by self-reporting their contact preferences (preferred topics they want to hear about, maximum frequency of communication, preferred communications channels, exception events that allow you to contact them even when there is a previous “do not contact” preference set,  etc.). These same relationship preference portals also allow customers to report either known or as they occur life stage events (birthdays, anniversaries, expected graduation dates, job promotions, etc.) in exchange for being recognized and appreciated (discounts, upgrades) for supplying this relationship enhancing and sensitive information.

The next chart illustrates how customer’s needs for products and services evolves as they migrate through their natural customer life stages. By offering products and services that are right for the customer’s associated life-stage, companies can experience a much higher offer acceptance rates (8-47%).  {Click on Chart for a Larger Image}:

Types of Products Offered Should VMatch Customers Life Stages

Types of Products Offered Should Match Customers Life Stages

The following chart illustrates how your marketing promotions and offers must be in total alignment with their life-stage segment needs.  {Click on Chart for a Larger Image}:

Marketing & Promotional Offers Should Match Your Customer's Life-Stages

Marketing & Promotional Offers Should Match Your Customer’s Life-Stages

The above two charts depict how both products and offers must be in total alignment with your customer’s life-stage in order to be effective. This ensures products/services and marketing offers are at the right time, with the right content and are at the right time and via the right channel (by collecting and managing life-stage channel preferences). {Click on Chart for a Larger Image}:

Customer Life Stages Segments with Matched Products, Offers, Spend

Customer Life Stages Segments with Matched Products, Offers, Spend

Bottom-line: If you are not taking your customer’s life stages and associated events into your segmentation and marketing strategy, then you are marketing with a blindfold on and not recognizing what is most important or relevant to your customers. A large US bank where I implemented this life stage segmentation schema and associated customer life-stage marketing management program witnessed a 25% increase in customer offer acceptance as well as a 18% increase in overall customer loyalty as measured by the reduction of customer defection rates.

The 80/20 Customer Profitability Rule

Develop intelligent customer service & customer management programs based on customer value insights…

Has your business ever performed an analysis of your customer base to determine any of the following:

1)      Which customers are frequent visitors and have the greatest repeat business?

2)      Which ones rarely do business with your company?

3)      Which ones are the most valuable and profitable to your company?

If you haven’t then you really don’t have the insights necessary to really develop an effective customer service, customer management and/or loyalty program.  In performing analytics and customer analysis for nearly 10% of the Fortune 500 companies in the United States, I have found a very revealing and astonishing pattern (rule) in this customer analysis that holds true company after company.  The pattern is as follows:

80% of all company profits are derived from ~20% of your customers

Take the chart below (Chart 1) from one of the top US banks that shows 20% of their customers are responsible for 82% of their profitability and that a full 47% of customers are actually unprofitable and not worth having as customer as each transaction costs the bank more than it is worth (each customer interaction/transaction actually drives the bank further away from profitability) {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}:

80% of all company profits are derived from ~20% of your customers

80% of all company profits are derived from ~20% of your customers

When I presented this customer profitability analysis to the bank, the bank executives were amazed at the results and of the customer profitability distribution. (Note – The deciles were developed using a SAS generated RFM analytics model whereby Recency (How recent customer have visited/purchased), Frequency (How frequently customers have visited/purchased and when they visited/purchased) and Monetary spend (How much they spend and on what types of products/services they spent their $$ on). The RFM model was then used as input into a profitability model, using actual profit data for each product/service/customer using a unique customer id to match the profit data to the RFM score.)Why are these insights and analytics so important and what might the bank or any other business do to manage customer relationships more effectively?  These insights are key in developing a customer relationship management (CRM) and loyalty program that is tailored and specific to each customer group. 

Note: The 80/20 rule applies to companies that have higher transaction volumes, a diverse set of product & services and a heterogeneous customer base.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Should your company treat your best and most profitable customers differently than other, less profitable customers?
  2. Should your company develop special customer programs so that the 20% most profitable customers are not lured away by competitors?
  3. Do you think your company’s most profitable and valuable customers want to be shown appreciation for their repeat and profitable business in a way that makes them feel welcome and special?
  4. Is it in your company’s best interest to want to develop strategies and programs that turn unprofitable customers into profitable or at least revenue neutral customers?

The answer to all four questions should be a resounding YES!

Armed with the above insights and analysis a company can start to architect customer intimacy and loyalty programs such as the following:

  1. Offer most profitable customer special discounts or accelerated loyalty rewards earning rates
  2. Conduct special top customer, by invite only, appreciation events
  3. Deliver occasional special top customer gifts or recognition when they interact with you in-person or on-line
  4. Invite your top 1-5% of customers to participate in an invite only customer advisory board or insights group event every year at an exciting destination where most or all expenses are paid for by your company
  5. Develop unprofitable customer management programs such that these customers become more profitable, cost less per company transaction and/or they are effectively ‘encouraged’ to migrate to competitors.

Take the same chart above and now overlay customer treatment programs to each customer decile and sub-segment (Chart 2) {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}

Effective Customer Management Programs Based on Profitability Insights

Effective Customer Management Programs Based on Profitability Insights

Even though decile #1 (10% of all customers) has been identified as the most valuable customer segment generating 65% of all company profits, the decile can then be further sub-segmented based on further profitability analysis/decomposition.  In this particular case:

  1. The top 5% of the top profitability decile customers generated 42% of all profits
  2. The remaining 5% of the top profitability decile customers generated 23% of profits

As shown in the ‘golden’ box (#1) above and below, these top tier customers should be given special access and special attention and made to feel totally appreciated and a partner of the company. The golden box also demonstrates the types of special programs you might want to provide to this top profitability group. It is of your utmost importance to do everything in your company’s power not to lose these most valuable/profitable customers. These suggested treatments are just a sample, but ones I have developed for many clients in the past, including top tier banks, retailers, life sciences companies, telecommunications providers, etc. {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}:

Top 5% of Customers Receive Platinum Plus Customer Programs

Top 5% of Customers Receive Platinum Plus Customer Programs

The next (Green) group of profitable customers highlighted in box #2 (below) can receive special treatment as well, but not quite the golden treatment as the most profitable 5%. These next valuable set of customers would still receive top customer treatment, but not quite the platinum access that the most valuable 5% would receive. You wouldn’t want to lose these valuable customers either, so their treatment would still be special, memorable and differentiated vs. your competitors. {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}:

Next Top Set of Customers Receive Top Treatment, but not Special Access, Handling Like the top 5% (Platinum) Group

Next Top Set of Customers Receive Top Treatment, but not Special Access, Handling Like the top 5% (Platinum) Group

The blue box (#3) in the chart below speaks to customer migration programs that incentivize customers to spend more, visit your company (physical or online) more, purchase higher value items, buy in bundles, etc. {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}:

Effective Customer Management Programs Effectively Transition Customers into More Valuable Customers Over Time

Effective Customer Management Programs Effectively Transition Customers into More Valuable Customers Over Time

One very effective way to do this is to develop what I call modeled incentives. In that, if a loyalty program is to be effective there should be an incentive for the customer to model the behavior to achieve the next loyalty reward level and the following must be present:

1)      Every customer group must know what they need to do to achieve the next loyalty rewards level

2)      Customers need to feel the next loyalty rewards level is significantly more valuable than their existing level

3)      There should be prestige and/or notoriety associated with achievement of the next loyalty rewards level so that customers feel privileged, special and differentiated from regular customers.

Lastly, the red box (#4) below speaks to customer management programs that need to either turn these unprofitable customers into profitable customers or find ways to reduce the cost to serve these unprofitable segments. Some strategies including limiting these customers to self-service, providing incentives to transact during off hours, incentivizing them to seek lower cost providers, etc. {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}:

Effective Customer Management Program Also Address Unprofitable Customers

Effective Customer Management Program Also Address Unprofitable Customers

The bottom line is that, through customer insights and analytics, you will find that not all customers are the same in terms of profitability (the 80/20 rule), therefore it makes no sense whatsoever to treat all customers the same. Through a robust customer insights program you will then be able to leverage these insights and develop a sophisticated and custom loyalty and retention program in order to accomplish the following:

  1. Develop break-away tier 1 (Platinum) loyalty programs that stand alone in the industry such that your top 1-5% most valuable customers would not even consider defecting to another provider
  2. Develop programs to retain your most profitable customers and make them want to remain a loyal customer
  3. Develop a loyalty migration path for customers to want to achieve the next loyalty rewards level (Silver, Gold, and Platinum) so that they simultaneously feel more recognized/special/connected to the company while providing your company great value/profits/monetary return.
  4. Develop programs to mitigate expenses when dealing with your least profitable customers (more self-service, helping them ‘discover’ lower cost competitors, offering more limited services, etc.) (the other 80%)
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