July 2008 - Channel Crossing: Online

Understanding Customers’ Digital Mood

By Charles Nicholls

How individual customers feel about the brands they choose to do businesses with can be best described as their brand temperature or mood. In an online environment where much or all of relationships are defined digitally, brand attitude towards the online channel can be thought of as a ‘digital mood.’ Digital mood is not completely detached from a customer’s brand temperature, but it has the advantage that it can be easily measured.

Digital mood is important since it affects customers’ propensity to buy and ultimately influences their loyalty. It is a fickle thing, changing dynamically based on the latest experience, but influenced by the customer’s unique past experience with the brand, as well. Thus, a customer’s attitude at any point in time needs to be taken into account in the tone of any communication with the customer.

If your business is to provide a service over the Internet, then you have a richness of experience data not found in other channels. Online retailers and marketers can precisely track the experience of customers and measure how effective their service is.

Recognizing an individual customer’s potential value to the business is also important at this stage to determine which channels to use. The opportunity to offer a higher quality of service to a potential premium client early on in the relationship can be very profitable.

For example, let’s say a prospect is online applying for a new account. After several steps, he abandons the process. This is a very common problem that can impact as many as four out of five online applications. If you’ve designed your new account opening process well, then you’ve captured both the e-mail details early on and key value indicators that allow you to classify the potential value of the client.

It’s obvious that you need to follow up with the prospect, even though many sites don’t. For example, you could automate an e-mail that automatically follows up on abandoned new account openings, with a link suggesting they complete the process. This will help, but it is far from optimal.

How you follow up depends on why they abandoned the process, and who they are. If the prospect experienced a sequence of page errors, or poor website performance during his or her online application, then sending a link in a generic e-mail for that person to try again is unlikely to be effective. In practice, a more effective technique is to recognize the customer had a bad experience and switch channels, perhaps by triggering a chat session while he or she is online, changing the site content or offering the individual a customer-service-based call to complete the process.

Measuring it enables you to prioritize resources, fix problems and to identify which customers were affected. Measuring it is one thing, acting upon it is another, since you effectively have to track experience at an individual level and be able to act in real time. After all, there’s no point in trying to take remedial action days or weeks after your customer experiences a negative or positive event. Thus, taking appropriate remedial actions quickly is very effective in converting customers and in winning hearts and minds.

Charles Nicholls is CEO of SeeWhy Software, a developer of real-time business intelligence software based in the United Kingdom.


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