Why Underinvesting in Your Preference Management System Is Costing You Customers
Selecting preferences is commonplace in our digital world. Users subscribe or unsubscribe from email lists, request notifications from their favorite brands, and update their privacy settings on social-media networks. It’s a win-win for both parties; consumers are supposed to be given a voice for their likes and dislikes in the marketing they receive, and how frequently companies interact with them through preferred communication channels.
Marketing teams are granted firsthand insight to unique customer characteristics and product interests — the ultimate opportunity to give customers exactly what they want and enhance relationships. Many organizations recognize the need to collect preferences, and even more so, customers now expect it, especially in lieu of strict regulations including GDPR, e-Privacy, TCPA and CASL. While preference collection is important, how a business manages that information is critical to maintaining compliance. Unfortunately, many brands still miss the mark.
Executives must understand their needs before debating whether to build or buy a preference-management solution. Not all preference-management platforms are created equal; yet, many companies try to take the easy way out, choosing to leverage an existing system (ESP, for example) that is not designed for the need at hand. A survey by DeviceBits found 55 percent of marketers collect data but aren’t analyzing patterns of behavior during customer service, and 16 percent even said they don’t collect any data at all. This means that 70 percent of marketers and brands are driving their customer experience with blinders on. They are unaware of the risks they assume and opportunities forgone by relying on a simple preference-collection webpage.
The majority of SMS and email service providers have built-in preference collection interfaces, where data is stored within the system and provides access to administrators. While this approach provides basic functionality and may meet the needs of small companies with a sole communication channel, larger companies face complex challenges, requiring more intricate technology. All too often, large companies with multiple departments and communication touch points are implementing a simple webpage to collect preferences as their “solution.” This is wherein the danger lies.
Surprising to many organizations, preference and consent collection is not a simple issue to tackle. DIY solutions lack proper governance that drives preference-management capabilities and fail to distribute information across the entire enterprise, leaving each business unit with varied perspectives of a client, prospect or customer. Without a unified view of the customer, each business unit risks sending impersonal communications to those who have made the effort to share their interests and preferences. Further, compliance is jeopardized by the systems’ inability to record consent history and track changes to preferences. In the wake of a violation accusation, customer consent and preference history are essential to defend your company. As the amount of data escalates and regulations continue to evolve, employing an oversimplified preference webpage heightens the potential for legal battles and presents more alarming issues than it attempts to solve.
Customers view companies as a single entity, but basic preference collection webpages prevent companies from behaving like one. They behave as siloed systems — information systems that isolate data from the rest of the organization. By resorting to a simple preference webpage, companies are missing out on the marketing opportunity. When customer-preference information is shared across the organization, marketing efforts can be customized to effectively deliver a personalized and consistent message. Instead, customers experience inconsistent interactions, unwanted emails and phone calls; they are turned away feeling unheard.
Once businesses are aware of the dangers associated with over simplified or DIY systems, they realize the value of robust enterprise preference-management solutions. A centrally located management system is necessary to minimize risk; integration across the whole company guarantees all business units are in-sync, listening to the customer, and communicating with them accordingly. These systems build trust, enhancing vital and customer relations and ROI. A study by InfoQuest found that a satisfied customer will contribute up to 2.6 times more revenue compared to an unsatisfied customer. In the case that compliance is called into question, experienced systems protect legal authority through following regulatory rules, recording data and providing businesses with a full history of each consent permission to date.
Many businesses build their own internal solution for consent and preference collection in an attempt to save money or retain control; ironically, they are losing money and missing the mark. When deciding to build or buy, businesses must be aware of the differences at hand. Preference webpages collect fragmented data and fail to integrate information provided by the customer to the remaining business units. As a result, businesses open themselves up to compliance violations and negative customer relationships. On the other hand, investing in an preference-management system integrates information company-wide and continuously evolves with data-privacy regulations to protect your company and remain compliant. These systems allow you to take full advantage of the marketing opportunity to optimize your communications, customer relationships and define optimal targets.
Eric V. Holtzclaw is chief strategist at PossibleNOW. He’s a researcher, writer, and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide consent and preference management solutions. Check out his book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior – “Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior” and his weekly column on Inc.com, “Lean Forward.”