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Include those three topics in your action plan for 2018

The plan for 2018 involves self-service that adds value. We will show you how to put your customers in the centre of the customer journey through content mapping, marketing automation and the use of chatbots.

Self-service: Real added value

The Internet is the self-service paradise for customers: The promise was to give users more transparency, self-determination, autonomy and independence in decision making. However, appearances can be deceptive: In many places, the web creates information overload and complicated, less transparent processes rather than convenience.

Many companies provide all the information they have about products and processes on the Web without asking themselves which customers will need that information and at what stage of the customer journey. The customers are confronted with a mass of content that does not really meet their current needs. They have to look for the best way through the information jungle themselves.

That is why, in 2018 the focus will be on placing the customers and their needs during the customer journey in the spotlight in order to create real added value with the self-service. We have identified three topics that you should address in 2018 and have analysed how they contribute to truly valuable self-service.

Content mapping during customer journey

In the past, companies invested a lot of time and resources in valuable content. However, this content is often provided to the customer without any purpose or regard for the customer’s needs. Based on the content strategy, it is therefore necessary to structure the content. Put yourself into the customer’s shoes: What content does the customer need at a given moment and in what form? Start with a layout of the content that you have and assign it to the corresponding stages of the customer journey. That way the customer feels accompanied during their journey and not left alone.

Possible approaches include content clusters, for example, according to the topic cluster approach or customer guidance according to the «Next Best Click» rule (NBC). The Topic Cluster Model is a way to organize individual websites as part of a more aware website architecture. A single website acts as a «central» one for a comprehensive topic and connects several pages with content with one other. The «Next Best Click» is a visual element that unites all the calls for action on a given website. For example, get in contact, subscribe to a newsletter, or download a document. Thus, delivery of content by target group and context relevance can be wonderfully integrated along the conversion path of the user journey.

This topic promotes self-service in the following ways:

  • Continuous, guided lead nurturing
  • Increasing the customer's decision-making security and thus building their trust
  • Increased customer loyalty through relevance of the content
  • Increased conversion rates

Contextual relevance through marketing automation

Automation of marketing processes is still in its infancy in many companies. Skillful algorithms can quickly identify patterns of behavior and execute appropriate marketing activities. The relevant content is played on the corresponding touchpoints in real time and across all channels using intelligent solutions and state-of-the-art technologies. This will turn strangers into friends: Collecting and analyzing customer data provides a detailed picture of their behaviors, needs and attitudes. The assignment of such a profile to a defined user segment is the basis for a personal approach and targeted, individual measures with context-relevant content. The goal is to guide the user through the decision-making process.

The prerequisite for Marketing Automation is to identify common patterns of a successful customer journey. Identify a specific application area and analyze all the steps of the customer journey and the conversion points.

This topic promotes self-service in the following ways:

  • Context-relevant address of the user
  • Increased conversion rates
  • Strengthened customer loyalty through optimized customer experience

Real-time service through chatbots

Conversational user interfaces in the form of chatbots are being increasingly used for communication between companies and customers. Chatbots bring a whole new quality to self-service: The customer is no longer looking for the relevant information in an unmanageable information offer of a company; instead, they formulate their need and (hopefully) receive a specific answer. In order to optimize the conversation between the human being and the machine, chatbots need a personality and should be designed as a learning system that learns and grows with each interaction.

In 2018, gather experience on the subject of chatbots. Experiment with your own and «third party» chatbots. With this experience, you will learn how to properly design, use and continuously improve chatbots. The application scenarios for chatbots are very broad. The biggest challenge is that the level complexity very quickly increases. That is why the paradigm is: Have courage to leave gaps. It’s better to start small and gain some initial experience in a clearly defined area of application, rather than try to develop the perfect chatbot right from the start.

This topic promotes self-service in the following ways:

  • Development of a 1 to 1 communication channel with the customer
  • Orientation to customer needs
  • New sales channel

How do you tackle these topics?

The days when it was possible to develop a comprehensive solution that covered all aspects of the problem are over. Now it is wiser to start from clearly defined application scenarios, learn from them and gradually expand them. The ongoing development and the continuous flow of knowledge will become the new paradigm.

Design Thinking is a methodical approach that starts right here: It strives to solve the right problems in a new way. Design Thinking is based on two principles: a thorough understanding of the problem to be solved and a constant review of the solution offered to a given customer or user. This allows for the development of solutions that offer real added value.