Real-Time Interaction Management–also referred to as RTIM–is the capability of providing an optimized response in real time to a customer event. Forrester has defined RTIM as: “Enterprise marketing technology that delivers contextually relevant experiences, value, and utility at the appropriate moment in the customer life cycle via preferred customer touchpoints.”1 The main applications of RTIM today are in the generation of contextually relevant and personalized messages and offers, within the context of a customer interaction.
There are a few best practices that brands should follow in order to be successful at RTIM. In this blog post we’ll explore those best practices and key strategies for applying RTIM in order to connect with consumers and influence their buying choices.
RTIM Best Practices
Full Integration Across Channels in Real Time
Integration with all relevant customer touchpoints is the most essential requirement. Without this foundational piece in place, brands cannot succeed at RTIM.
Integration into Data Sources that Can Provide Context
Successful real-time interactions require integration with data sets that could be external to a brand but help inform context. For example: by ingesting data on the weather in every US ZIP code every 15 minutes, a coffee chain could determine which drink to showcase depending on whether it’s hot or cold out.
Deliver Personalized Experiences Across Channels
The ability for an RTIM system to integrate across email, SMS, push, and mobile inbox is a good starting point, but also requires that the opt-in state for each of those channels is communicated and respected through your system. For example: a brand knows that a customer buys the same pair of basketball sneakers each season, so they email the customer an offer with a discount on a pair of basketball shorts. However, if the RTIM system observes that the customer has broken a geo-fence at a specific store, and the brand’s offer management system is inventory-aware, the brand can send an offer that’s very unique or specific to the customer in that moment at that time.
Features of a RTIM Tool
Unique Identification of A Customer Across Channels
Improve the customer experience across devices with identity management, which securely identifies customers and reduces friction in the registration process. Gigya and Janrain are examples of technologies used for that purpose, enabling customers to use their social login from Facebook or Google. Customer identification is the first step when interacting with anything related to a brand. The basic profile with personally identifiable information such as phone number, device identifiers, opt-in status, email addresses, username, and password is captured in this layer, and possibly augmented with collected basic demographic data such as gender or age.
Forming and using a rich user context will trigger relevant interactions. By capturing the user’s context—before and during an interaction—and interpreting it in real time, the brand generates high-value and impactful conversations that will boost the consumer’s interest and conversion.
Enriched Customer 360° Data
Customer 360° data is comprehensive, aggregated historical data about all interactions between the consumer and the brand. It is enriched by product or brand environment data (store or restaurant locations) so that mapping can be discovered between product and/ or store locations. These mappings come from statistical analysis of purchase or browsing data and identify any propensity or affinity between the consumer and products. For example, a propensity insight would be that at a given time of week, a particular consumer likes to buy a large coffee from a restaurant chain. In the process, affinity data says that a coffee at a given time of day is often purchased with a full breakfast meal. A decision engine will then produce an offer for free coffee at a certain time for this customer.
Content and, by extension, offers are assigned to customers as a function of persona analysis. The combination of persona-based personalization and relevant context triggers the visibility of the content or offer by the customer. Offer or content assignment and actual visibility of these to the customer are two separate steps calculated in sequence, sometimes almost instantaneously. The first step is taken by the personalization engine and the latter by the decision engine.
The engine creates offers, publishes them to a Point of Sale or ecommerce system for redemption, and publishes them to a campaign engine or through a mobile app that can announce the availability of the offer to the customer. That announcement is either sent via push or email notification or an offer wallet in a mobile app.
Performance and Scalability
Consumer events are generated in very high numbers at a very high rate, especially online ordering around Black Friday, or several times a day for QSR chains. The ability to process these events in real time, collect user profiles, identify their context and apply personalization rules—all in the blink of an eye—is one of the new technical requirements for Marketing Technologists. Scalability and performance for RTIM is not to be underestimated and should be a primary solution selection criterion. Proof of concept with a performance test up front is also highly recommended.
Brands that implement RTIM technology and best practices that meet the above criteria open new possibilities for customer interactions that enhance the perception of the brand and its value to the consumer. Interactions become more relevant and personal and lead to increased customer loyalty. To learn more about SessionM’s RTIM solutions, request a demo.