Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Service Providers are Failing Personalization Needs

 
Why do so many of today's service providers still cling to legacy mass-media marketing practices, when they know that there's an alternative? It's puzzling, especially to those who track current marketing trends.

eMarketer reports that service providers in several industries are not meeting customer needs for personalized offerings, or even fulfilling relevant communication needs, according to a recent U.S. market study.

Customers are increasingly frustrated a lack of basic personalization or targeting and believe that many businesses simply don't care about their preferences. In fact, despite the wealth of options enabled by digital media channels, most internet users are dissatisfied.

Research from customer engagement firm Thunderhead found that the banking industry was most likely to use a customer's preferred digital channels -- with 54 percent of respondents reporting positive experiences.

But just 27 percent of internet users said gas companies communicated with them through preferred channels, and other vertical industry marketers fell somewhere in between.

Overall, 42 percent of respondents said preferred digital channels were being used at least "fairly well" by their service providers. That's disappointing, when you consider that personalization is considered a mainstream marketing concept.

The lack of effective personalization extended to the content of messages, not just their delivery channel. At least 45 percent of respondents for each vertical complained that marketing communication materials were poorly targeted.

And about half or more said they would be more satisfied if service providers referenced their account information in communication, making messages more meaningful. Is it possible that savvy customers now know more about digital media applications than the typical marketer that reaches out to them?

"Today's consumers are much more technologically sophisticated than they were even five years ago, and they are demanding tailored and personal communications from those companies with which they do business," said John McGee, president and COO of Thunderhead.

Segmentation and targeting will improve marketing results. In contrast, impersonal messages can damage existing customer relationships. That said, why do service providers -- that often have a wealth of data about current customers -- fail to treat their customers as individuals? It's truly puzzling.