Originally published on LinkedIn
The world has changed dramatically over the past decade: consumer-to-consumer engagement has gone from voice phone calls to text and instant messaging. However, business have lagged behind rather embarrassingly: business-to-business and business-to-consumer engagement are still primarily based on voice and e-mail.
It’s time for businesses to adopt real-time experience (RTX) as a philosophy when engaging their customers throughout their customer journey. RTX is what we all as consumers prefer, and it’s characterized by the following five traits.
1. Mobile for Customer Engagement
This one is pretty intuitive to most of us; there’s one device that nearly never leaves our sides: our mobile phone. It’s our wallet. It’s our multi-channel communication device. It’s our entertainment source. It’s our security blanket. Is it any surprise that it’s our preferred method of communication?
Action: engage your customers over their mobile device as the primary form of contact.
2. Asynchronous Communication for Customer Engagement
We’ve all become multi-taskers; we don’t like activities that force us to single-task in a “synchronous” activity. A phone call or an in-person meeting are both “synchronous” activities: they force us to be actively-engaged in that activity for its duration unable to (politely) engage in much else.
Instant messaging, on the other hand, is an “asynchronous” activity: we can engage in it while doing other things. These days, we tend to prefer asynchronous channels of communication (e.g., text messaging). If you don’t believe me, try calling someone’s phone number and, after they send you to voicemail, try sending them a text message. Nine times out of ten, the person will respond via text relatively quickly even though they couldn’t (or didn’t want to) answer your phone call.
Action: engage your customers over an asynchronous channel so they don't need to single-task.
3. Personalization for Customer Engagement
The term “mass personalization” has been in marketers’ vernacular for a few years now. We like to feel like we’re being engaged personally in a very one-on-one conversation instead of as part of a large one-to-many campaign. And this goes beyond just our name being listed on an e-mail: if we’re based in Brazil and prefer to speak Portuguese, it’d be great if the companies with which we engaged could do so in our native language.
Action: engage your customers in a very personal, one-on-one way, and in their preferred language.
4. Non-App/App-less Customer Engagement
Please don’t ask me to download your proprietary app unless your business is one I engage daily, weekly, or monthly. For that reason, like most, I prefer to use existing channels that are already on my phone—text messages, e-mail, or 3rd-party instant messages.
If you send me a text, I’ll notice it immediately and respond as soon as I can. If you send me an e-mail, I’ll notice it within an hour and perhaps respond within a few days. Just don’t bombard me with either.
Action: engage your customers without trying to get them to download your app; instead, engage them over widely-accepted 3rd-party messaging platforms (e.g., text messages, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc.).
5. On-Demand Customer Engagement
It’s not just the Millennial generation. We all appreciate on-demand service. We want to ask for help, when we need it, get answers on the spot, and not have to wait on hold for anything. To provide on-demand service cost-effectively, we’re okay with a combination of automated chatbot and human-assisted conversations, as long as what we need is taken care of for us.
Action: engage your customers with on-demand responsiveness with a chatbot covering the expected and a human the unexpected.
Bassam Salem is Founder and CEO of Mindshare Ventures, which developed AtlasRTX, a platform that enables companies to engage their customers in real-time experiences.
In North America? Give it a try by texting your name to 929-29-ATLAS (28527).