Last month, I introduced the concept of contact optimization. This involves expanding marketing horizons beyond simply managing the mailbox to include communication strategies that optimize customer experience across all interaction points. Customer behavior and preference, combined with sophisticated predictive analytics, are used to drive all communication decisions, including what to talk about, when to initiate the conversation and where the communication happens. The goal of contact optimization is to pinpoint the most important message to talk to the customer about at a particular point in time, and to create an environment where customer communications move from nuisance to expected and the customers actually look forward to hearing from you.

In theory, optimizing customer communications sounds wonderful. Playing customer for a moment, I can certainly attest to the delight I would feel if my bank cut out the loosely targeted phone solicitations, stopped mailing the never used (and must be shredded) credit card cash advance checks, and confined their email and Internet banking alerts to real problems such as suspected fraud or double debit of a monthly bill pay. In this environment, I would welcome communications on topics in which I have expressed interest (e.g., retirement planning). I might actually read all the communications I receive rather than attempting to guess from the packaging which are worthwhile and which go straight into the circular file. Unfortunately, despite the significant benefits of contact optimization, only a handful of leading organizations are truly reaching for communication nirvana. I closed last month’s discussion with the thought that adoption rates are relatively low because the organizational and technical hurdles are fairly high. This month I’ll focus on resolving the organizational challenges.

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