A young woman wearing a brown winter jacket reacts happily to a message she received on her phone.

Less Is More: 3 Ways Contextual Notifications Improve CX

Notification overload: it’s happening. Brands are sending the same message, multiple times, through email, text, voice and social media. They’re trying to move consumers along in their journeys, whether it’s nudging them to complete their online account registrations or reminding them to pick up an item they ordered to a store location. 

When customer journeys aren’t progressing at a satisfactory rate, however, the instinct is often to send more notifications—which brands are definitely doing. We saw a 950% YOY jump in SMS notifications that businesses sent to consumers in 2021, and a 270% increase in voice notifications over the same period. That’s how much more competition is out there for consumers’ attention. 

So now the question is, how do you break through all that noise to not just capture consumers’ attention with your messaging, but get them to act on it? Answer: By prioritizing message quality over quantity. 

But by message quality, we don’t just mean how well-crafted the message content is, but also its timing, channel and relevance. It doesn’t matter how grabby a promotional email’s subject line is if the promotion itself isn’t appealing to the customer, or comes at a time they can’t use it, or they don’t even read their emails. What we mean is proactive, predictive and personalized messaging that generates more customer engagement on a per-notification basis. 

Here are three things a contextual notifications strategy does when it cuts through the notification noise, and examples of how. 


1. Flip Customer Frustration to Appreciation

Seventy-six percent of consumers get frustrated when they receive offers that are irrelevant to them. Batch-and-blast messaging is turning off customers and racking up unsubscribes. But contextual notifications that are driven by customer behavioral data should generate brand ambassadors instead of more noise. 

Track Customer Activity Type and Recency

This is how brands avoid sending the right message at the wrong time. If a cable broadband customer is experiencing a service outage, they’ll be frustrated to get a text from their provider trying to upsell them on a new TV/internet bundle (even if it’s a terrific deal for them). Brands need the ability to automate a suspension on certain communications when customers enter certain journeys, activities, account statuses, etc. In the case of the cable broadband company, the brand could send the customer real-time updates on their service outage getting resolved (which they’ll appreciate) and then resume the promos once it is (which they should, at that point, appreciate too). 

Provide Communications that Add Value

Notifications that anticipate customers’ needs will also draw a lot of appreciation. You can help ensure your communications are valuable when they can react to certain customer behaviors or steps in their journeys. For example, when your product is delivered to your customer’s door, send them a delivery notification that includes a tutorial link and how-to video. Or, if you’re a financial institution, and the customer started a loan application with you but abandoned it, trigger a message offering an FAQ or customer support for the application process. This proactive use of notifications not only delivers valuable and timely content, it also makes customers feel understood. 


2. Show Customers You’re Listening

Using your notifications in ways that make customers feel understood is key to getting them to act. For this, even a little personalization can go a long way. 

Pay Attention to Their Channel Preferences and Remember Them

Trying to hit customers with messaging across every channel to “cover all the bases” is an easy way to overload them. Your notifications systems should be able to limit communications to the optimal channel(s) for each customer, either by a preference they set or have demonstrated by their engagement data. It should also be able to adapt when those preferences shift. 

Tailor Message Timing Based on Their Habits

Not every customer gets things done on the same schedule, even for regular occurrences like paying a monthly bill or refilling a prescription. Some wait until the last minute versus weeks in advance; some get their personal tasks done during business hours, and others save it for before/after work. Companies can set notifications to send at different day/time intervals for different individual customers according to their habits or behavior. For example, a healthcare system or pharmacy might note that a patient typically refills their medication every three months, and then sends them a text reminder to refill it 30 days out. If your notifications can account for these preferences, it not only increases the chance customers will act on them, but it also signals that you cater to their schedule.


3. Create More Opportunities for Brand Loyalty

When you’re not using batch-and-blast communications that cause customers to tune you out, and you’re instead using more targeted methods, you’re giving your brand more chances to solidify relationships with customers. 

Predict What the Customer Is Going to Do Before They Do It

You likely have the data to know what factors drive many customers to buy another product or service from you, or leave you for a competitor. (If it’s difficult to glean those factors from your data, you might need to look at how to break down your data silos) But can you orchestrate contextual notifications using those factors as triggers? For example, sending a retention package offer when a customer becomes a churn risk, and before they call to cancel their service, is more effective in maintaining brand loyalty.  

Stay in Front of the Customer Without Being Pushy

Brands will often send notifications to customers at a regular cadence to stay “top of mind” with them—regardless of what each customer’s actual engagement is with that brand. A one-cadence-fits-all approach is sure to overload a portion of customers who are already visiting your website regularly, making purchases, etc. You can use contextual notifications that identify when customers haven’t engaged or made a purchase for a set time, and communicate new products or offers that will bring you back into their routine.


Don’t Add to the Noise

How do you make these contextual notifications possible? The key is to take your digital messaging solutions (that deliver email, SMS, voice and other messages) and connect them to a journey orchestration solution. In a nutshell, that’s how you use an intelligent decisioning engine to automate notifications that are proactive, predictive and personalized. 

There is of course more to it than that. If you want to learn more examples of using notifications to improve CX, as well as how to implement them, you can download this free guide: Context Is Key: How To Break Through the Notification Noise To Drive Customer Engagement.  

Headshot of CSG marketing director Robin Opperlee.

Robin Opperlee

Executive Director, Digital Marketing