While recently making a retail purchase, I was asked by the sales associate to sign up for the company's "Thanks for Sharing" program -- an effort to raise millions of dollars for charity. After a $25 enrollment fee, you get 10 percent back on purchases through the end of the year. Sign me up! It's a win-win for the charities, the retailer, and my own pocketbook. Unfortunately, my ongoing experience with this program has left me feeling more confused than appreciated. Let's start at the beginning.
My customer journey started off well. The sales associate said today's purchase counted toward the program, meaning I'd already earned back the $25 enrollment fee. Great! She encouraged me to track my rewards progress on future paper statements. A week later, I went back to the store, and the same associate couldn't find any record of my enrollment. I assured her that I had signed up just one week prior and went home to await my paper statement to verify.
I was looking forward to seeing all the rewards rack up on my paper statement, but when it arrived in the mail, there were no rewards, nor any acknowledgment that I was enrolled. There was, however, an advertisement for the "Thanks for Sharing" program. It dawned on me that maybe I wasn't enrolled after all.
I logged into my online account hoping to find some answers, but there was no mention of this program. I needed to make a phone call.
After being forced to listen to 13 different phone tree options, I finally got through to an agent who informed me that I was indeed enrolled in the program. However, the large purchase that had inspired me to join in the first place wasn't eligible because the sales associate had signed me up before the program officially began. What? Given that it's a charitable cause, I didn't have the desire to debate the issue.
To satisfy my curiosity, I looked at my inbox to see what emails may have come from the retailer. I was surprised that the only two emails from the past 30 days were:
• Thanks for your recent payment
• Your statement is ready to view online
No "Thanks for Enrolling" email acknowledging that I had joined the program or promotions of any kind. I was beginning to feel un-thanked for sharing.
The moral of the story
It takes a certain level of planning and sophistication to successfully orchestrate a marketing campaign across multiple channels. While some marketing snafus can be humorous, others can send the consumer reeling.
Because today's consumers have a "get it now" and "get it right " mentality, marketers need to provide both. As such, we need unprecedented visibility and access to relevant data about consumers and the context in which they are shopping. So what do marketers need to gain the insight and contextual understanding required to enable the creation of sophisticated cross-channel customer experiences?
Marketers need a powerful and nimble system of record
A technology infrastructure that will support an integrated approach to marketing strategy, development, delivery, and measurement -- across the marketing mix -- is necessary. Carefully assess your current capabilities and develop a plan for investment in marketing technologies that will ensure you're in a position to leverage customer data in real time across multiple platforms and devices.
Marketers need to get collaborative
Organizations need to be more collaborative in how they plan and optimize campaigns. They must bring together individuals from different business units, such as IT, product development, and marketing. These groups need to work together in new ways to collectively understand consumer decision journeys and design experiences that will meet consumer demands.
Marketers need to design interactions that enhance the customer journey
Understand how customers interact with your brand and look for opportunities to enhance the experience across their journey by leveraging data and context for real-time response and dialogue.
A sophisticated marketing program can drive significant ROI. Because it is not feasible to manually act in the moment a consumer is making a decision, marketers need automated campaigns that are skillfully orchestrated across channels. Skillfully is the key word here -- we need the right technologies, people, and processes in place to meet the consumer's present tense demand for marketing.
As the call center representative said, "Thanks for calling and have a great night." (It was 10 in the morning.)
Amanda Hinkle is a senior digital marketing strategist at StrongView.
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