Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why Real-time Reactions Make the Difference

Here's a true story: A couple of years ago, I used to borrow DVD's from a local DVD machine, after borrowing about a dozen I got a phone call from the local Block-Buster store that owns the machine, they said that they see i have been borrowing about a movie a week and offered me a 35 movie membership ticket that would save me 50%.Do you want to guess what happened next? Was I offended? Was I angry that someone saw what I was doing?
NO, I was quite happy and bought the membership card. Their offer was relevant, focused and on time !

One of the main changes that the online channel has brought along is a change of pace. Everything is at our finger-tips, we jump from one subject to another in a flash, from one web site to another in a click - our concentration span is narrowed. Heck... I will probably check my email 4 times and surf to 2-3 sites while writing this post.

This short concentration span and our accelerated pace of life requires immediate responses - when we surf to a site looking for info, service, products or whatever we expect to be served immediately. If you (the site owner) have something special to tell me or sell me, something relevant to ME (based on my behavior or history) you better have it ready and serve it hot. I won’t be here in 2 minutes and probably won’t remember what I wanted. You have to hit the iron while it’s still hot. By the way, this is what inbound marketing is all about - Its what you do when the customer is at the door.

These days, companies usually have some historical data, specific to users or more general in nature that helps them decide what to offer the customer or how important it is to provide him with VIP service. The big problem is - How do you leverage this information in time?

How do you make efficient use of what you know about me and what I am doing now?

The answer lies in real-time reactions. If you can react in real-time to who I am + my history with your company + my current behavior then you have a much better chance at selling me you product, improving the service I get etc.

If you take a moment and think about it, this idea of real-time reactions is not so innovative, we are quite used to it in the offline world. When you enter a shoe store, the salesman will detect your entrance followed by your behavior in the store. He will react with the relevant offer when it is relevant (hopefully :-). If he sees you are interested in running shoes and points to the current New-Balance sale he increases his chances in closing a deal. The "real" salesman can also detect which customers are behaving more potentially and react to them. This way he maximizes his resources.

But our friend, the shoe salesman, doesn’t usually have the privilege of a customer history database or high-potential behavioral patterns. Web sites, however, can be connected to CRM and BI systems, so the potential is there. The question is, can they use this information in time? And can they correlate it with what the user is doing right now?

There many applications that deal with customer history and define what should be offered to them and how they should be treated. Various campaign management and BI systems offer features such as Next Best Offer and Next Best Action. What they usually lack are two critical abilities to leverage those abilities in the online world: Detecting that a customer is in our web site to actually deliver the offer to him and detect his current behavioral pattern to verify whether that his behavior aligns with what we knew/thought or perhaps shows that the offer should be different. Thats what we had in mind when we developed ActiveInsight - providing real-time, value-based reactions to online behavior.

Just think of yourself and your own experience as a customer - how often do you get irrelevant offers in sms, Email or phone? How often do you get relevant offers too late? And what an impact is it when you get a relevant offer on time...