What is Preference Management? – 11 Benefits and Best Practices

New technologies continually give customers more options to communicate with their favorite brands. Phone calls. Emails. Texting. Push notifications. Even older channels like fax. But what is preference management going to do to help manage all those channels?

February 20, 2019

To create the best customer experience (CX), you may have to support many or all of these channels. But that doesn’t mean you have to communicate with every single customer on each one. By understanding your customers’ preferences, you can save money, improve CX and discover 11 key benefits for your business. But first, what is preference management, and why do we call it that?

What is preference management?

Preference management is the ability to communicate with customers at the time and on the channels they prefer. It flips traditional brand communication on its head and puts the recipient in control. So the customer decides when a business sends them a promotion or notification, not the other way around.

With preference management, you empower customers not only to communicate the way they prefer. But you also ensure it’s done in a legal, compliant way.

So with that in mind, here are 11 benefits and best practices of a complete preference management strategy.

1. Identify high-ROI channels

Preference management allows businesses to offer different types of communication channels for their customers. Whether it’s text, email, phone, push notification or something else, customers choose how they want to be contacted. Then, you learn which channels are most popular for your customers and focus your dollars in developing those channels.

2. Provide personalized service

Stats are powerful. Like in our consumer survey, where 82 percent of people chose email as their first choice to receive notifications. But what about the other 18 percent? Emails and text messages are short and sweet and always available on our phones, but understanding customer preferences lets you make the best impression with nearly 100 percent of customers.

3. Match the message and channel

While email may be someone’s first choice, it’s not best for every situation. For example, gate-change notifications work well through text because customers in the airport need the information now. But billing reminders can wait in an email for a few days. Also, coupons or customer care information is often a good fit for mobile so customers always have access.

4. Improve your contact rate

All customer service managers know how frustrating it is when customers don’t answer the phone or respond to a text. With preference management, you have information about the channel they prefer and the time they want to be contacted. With that level of data, your messaging becomes more convenient, and your successful contact rate rises.

5. Cut costs with self-service

About 50 percent of smartphone users would prefer to try mobile self-service before making a call. There are many ways to improve self-service adoption, but preference management makes it easy to identify that 50 percent and focus your efforts. Preference management requires self-service by definition as customers select communication options, so even adopting preference management tools is a great step toward self-service adoption.

6. Learn more about your customers

Today’s customers don’t just want to buy goods and services. They expect their favorite brands to understand who they are and what they want. By collecting customer preferences and adding them to a single customer view, you not only gain a picture of your customer base as a whole. You also get insight about each individual buyer. That data is invaluable for many areas of your business.

7. Collect unlimited data

With the right preference management tools, you never have to worry about running out of data storage, even for large enterprises serving millions of customers. Whatever data your customers trust you with, store it in a geographically redundant, cloud-based system where you can trust it to be available whenever you need it.

8. Generate loyalty and good will

Consumers interact with many brands, and more and more businesses are putting extra focus on customer experience. Now that your customers have experienced multichannel communication and preference management from other companies, they come to expect it from all their favorite brands. Give them an experience they expect to create long-term loyalty.

9. Differentiate between multiple users

Depending on your industry, you may have several users on the same account. For example, a family on a cellular plan. Use preference management tools to define contact strategy for different numbers or email addresses, and even define the best contact order — who to contact first, second and so on.

10. Share data enterprise-wide

A primary goal for any data management solution, including preference management tools, is to break data out of silos and share it across your organization. By sharing data, preferences are recognizable and current across business functions. Every department understands your customers and can communicate in the most effective way possible.

11. Keep data up to date

After collecting preferences, don’t assume that data is valid forever. Let customers update their preferences at any time, and confirm current contact info and preferences every once in a while. And be sure to offer an option to send updates whenever a customer’s preferences are updated. While it’s not a reliable solution, it can even serve as a pseudo-security measure to notify someone that their account has been accessed.

Benefits of Preference Management Tools

These are 11 of the most common answers to the question, “What is preference management going to do for me?” But by adopting preference management tools, you may find several other benefits of your own.

But no matter what, preference management will always be a great way to communicate with customers, generate ROI and improve your brand image.

Of course, learning how customers want to be contacted is only one step in an outbound campaign. Learn how to develop exceptional proactive campaigns with our blog post, 5 Steps to Creating Proactive Engagement Strategies. And feel free to talk to one of our communication experts at 800.841.9000.

If you’ve never used preference management strategies, there’s no better time to get started. But if you have, use these tips to get the most possible benefit from your preference management tools.

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