Six Capabilities of Customer Engagement
Customer engagement can be compared to hanging out with your best friend: the better you know each other, the more fun you will have and the more engaging your time spent together will be. After a while you can almost guess what’s on your friend’s mind, making your conversations worthwhile for the both of you. It’s this constant process of interacting with each other that forges a strong relationship between two people.

While wondering what requirements this would impose upon an automated customer engagement solution, I came up with a list of six key capabilities any customer engagement solution should have.

1. Ability to Listen and Collect


Every mouse click tells a story on preference, behavior and identity of the visitor. An engagement solution should be able to continuously build and update knowledge on each individual visitor. But to listen and collect is not only about data capturing, it is also about combining customer data from other systems, building a single Big Data repository of customer information.

2. Support for Cross Channel Profiles

Customer journeys can be pretty unpredictable. Customers usually navigate across many touch points and channels, using multiple devices like laptop, mobile phone and tablet to gather the information needed before making their purchase.

To create a single, comprehensive profile of each customer, it is required to identify and recognize (returning) customers and to unify their individual customer data across each of these touch points and devices. From a technical point of view, this calls for an open solution that integrates well with all customer touch points and with the back-office systems containing customer data such as CRM, ERP and billing systems.

3. Provide Actionable Insights


Monitoring and connecting your customer data helps you understand the relationships between domains, brands, channels and customer interaction streams. Doing so you will make better strategic decisions that take your customer experience and engagement programs to the next level.

As engagement goes beyond mere customer analysis, all this data should allow for immediate action -- either manual or automated -- to optimize and improve results.

4. Deliver Real-Time Decisions

Customers switch channels in real time, and demand to continue their journey in a seamless flow. This requires an engagement solution that is capable of making real-time decisions based on the pile of customer data collected so far. If we extrapolate this requirement to 10,000s of simultaneous visitors a day, each maybe making 100 real-time decisions per visit, the engagement solution obviously should offer exceptional scalability and responsiveness. Moreover, it should bring automated testing qualities to the table. As different alternatives for the same experience may be available, it is a great benefit if one can continuously test and learn which experience alternative performs best.

5. Inject Smart Messages


Engaging works best if you are where the visitor is at that very moment. This means that a solution should be able to deliver experiences -- for example a PDF file, an email, a video or a pop-up dialog -- across each of your customer touch points. Each experience smartly reflects what you know so far about this visitor, and is "injected" as tailor-made message at exactly the right time. This message injection should work across all channels, and should be generically implemented, e.g. based on a single tag, so that it is robust to future changes in your websites, apps or social channels.

6. Synchronize Multiple Channels

As each individual customer is following his or her own journey across multiple channels, it is essential to be able to continue the dialogue when a visitor leaves one channel and enters a new one. Synchronizing channels to deliver an uninterrupted experience is therefore the last key capability of an engagement solution.

Ideally, the solution is able not only to integrate online touch points, but also to weave in offline experiences such as store visits and purchases, for example using customer loyalty cards and QR codes to capture these experiences.

Title image courtesy of zphoto (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more by Martijn, see his Web CMS vs. Best of Breed Solutions