In my last blog, I touched upon the need to have a consumer engagement strategy and a way to measure the consumer engagement maturity model. As an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon, the SEI’s CMM is firmly ingrained in my mind. Here’s my take on levels of organizational maturity for consumer engagement, basing it on a framework similar to that of the SEI CMM model.

Level Characteristics
1: Initial/ Adhoc
  • Consumer engagement is purely reactive – dependent on customer query/ contact
  • A culture of customer service and engagement is spotty and not pervasive through the organization
  • All customers are equal – “you don’t know who you’re talking to”.
2: Managed
  • Consumer engagement is reactive. Customer databases are available for marketing/ promotions and consumer outreach
  • Consumer communication is primarily mass email/ direct marketing
  • Customer transaction history is available to front line employees
  • Each interaction is viewed as a separate episode
  • Loyalty programs exist in basic forms (e.g.: store card, membership card)
3: Predictive
  • Organization has customer segmentation available, and has a sense of their buying patterns
  • Consumer engagement is still “mass” – with marketing communication targeted by segments
  • Loyalty programs and rewards well understood (e.g.: cash back, airline miles)
  • Ability to reference customer value and longevity (e.g.: has been a silver member for 3 years)
  • Ability to create consistent outcomes based on customer category
  • Integrated view of customer across lines of business
4: Adaptive
  • Consumer engagement starts getting proactive and targeted
  • Marketing programs and outreach based on customer value/ customer segment
  • Marketing programs designed by customer segment/ loyalty
  • 3600 view of the customer (“stage in the life of…”)
  • Personalized offers and content based on buying patterns and history
  • Adaptive pricing based on customer loyalty/ value
  • A culture of consumer engagement is pervasive front office/ customer facing roles
  • Relationship view vs. transactional view of the customer (customer value vs. single transaction)
5: Anticipative
  • Consumer engagement is proactive and personal
  • Marketing programs based on narrow segments
  • 1:1 personalization: products, prices, promotions
  • Predictive models based on buying patterns
  • Integrated view of customer based on public profiles, social media, and buying history
  • Personalized marketing and communication based on buying history, patterns
  • A culture of consumer engagement is pervasive throughout the organization
  • Paradigm defined by customer lifetime value and relationship

©Abhijeet Pradhan Nov 2013

Most of the businesses today are probably in a combination of levels 2 and 3. The challenge for everyone is to get to the next level – where we can get to an Adaptive engagement model. This is where there is significant potential to leverage the power of big data/ analytics to segment customers based on demographics and buying patterns. Organizations start narrowing the broad segments and instead of sending out that generic email blast to inviting everyone to view their fares, organizations can send selective communication based on loyalty tiers.

Organizations could now start piecing together information from their loyalty programs, customer service calls and sales systems to create a complete view of consumer experience.

Maturing consumer engagement and loyalty at Level 4 could very well be the foundation for moving on to Level 5 – where organizations can start having 1:1 conversations and a very immersive consumer experience. In my opinion, we’re still a way out from getting there.  My take is that it might take us a while to settle in and mature at 4 – and in about 2-3 years from now, we might see some of the leaders take early steps in Level 5.

So where do you start? Lets start by figuring out where you are on the maturity scale. What changes do you need to make to systems and processes to get to the next level? How do you align these into meaningful initiatives? What is the value, benefit and the ROI of doing this? And finally – how do you get these prioritized and funded? This could provide you a framework for where to start and how to proceed.

As I said in my last blog, a lot of this is not easy. In fact, it can be pretty difficult. But as we all know, every company is trying their best to improve loyalty through effective engagement. Chances are that if you don’t do this – your competition probably will.