Constantine Kamaras Vice-Chairman of the BoD

Let's clarify something from the get-go: we at ATCOM are constant and persistent optimists - we wouldn't have created, from a miniscule start-up 20 years ago or so, Greece's leading digital business agency if we did not believe that, with hard work and clear focus, great projects can be mastered, great products can be developed and great results can be delivered.

However, we do have an issue when optimism becomes excessive or even unfounded - that is, when realism does not calibrate enthusiasm, does not guide the passion in ambitious endeavors.

And we feel that -as is the case periodically- an 'optimism trap' is emerging for businesses as the pandemic (finally) starts to subside into endemicity: in short, the potential for (assumed to be untapped) business growth may lead companies into an aggressive customer acquisition spree, a form of 'land grab' for the new, post-covid market environment. There is nothing wrong (quite the contrary) with dynamic business growth - however, we do feel that companies would be best advised to first take a step back and examine closely their retention, rather than acquisition, strategies. Only such a thorough 'health-check' can be a springboard for solid business development - for if retention has not been duly optimized, then acquisition becomes an imperfect at best, futile at worst pursuit. To acquire a customer only to run a notable risk of churn, i.e. losing him, translates eventually to higher marketing costs and lower margins, with a vicious circle dynamic not far off.

The reason we insist on Retention Optimization does not only emanate from solid business principles and common sense - it is based also on the availability of a plethora of tools and best practices yet the two most critical pillars lie at the edges of the internal value chain: at the one end, data analytics and, at the other, CX. Data can be difficult to discuss without veering into cliches but the truth is that it is not the tools that are missing but, on the one hand, a clear and forward looking architecture of actionable (as well as 'clean', namely first-party, GDPR-compliant and so on) data and, on the other, talent to extract their full value and potential - for the former, companies need a strategic partner and enabler and for the latter, they may also need to look beyond the confines of the current labor market and into academia where tomorrow's stars (the ones we don't want to see join the "brain drain") are starting to blossom.

Critically, data science and AI are the cornerstones for the other fundamental pillar, CX - there are several ways in which a superior customer experience can be designed and delivered, nevertheless, the crucial element increasingly underlying best practices lies in active (a source of valuable zero-party data) and passive (profiling after user consent) personalization. With few, if any, exceptions where it can be applied: user interfaces, content served, visual and textual messaging (including 'push' channels like email or notifications) - even loyalty programs, an activity area at times sadly overlooked or undervalued. Key performance indicators are also, at least at a fundamental level, rather straightforward, namely volume, frequency and 'diversity' of consumption, usually a result of successful, data-informed cross-promotion. And with the high retention that superior CX does ensure comes that most vital of KPIs: consumer trust. Some would argue that trust's value resides not only in sales generated but also in the data consent acquired and the word-of-mouth (mostly social) marketing it augments. We would go even further and say that it is a good in itself.

ATCOM: From Digital to Purpose