Are You TRUE in Your Customer Experience Management?

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

We’re months past the winter holidays and sellers have a great chance to think about what we’ve learned, now that the dust has settled. Each holiday shopping season is an intense, focused study in what motivates customers to buy and brings many opportunities for improvement. Looking back, it would be too easy to think that a customer completing a long shopping list for gifts would be most motivated by price, but Forrester Principal Analyst Tracy Stokes says otherwise. Stokes recently blogged her advice to big-box retailers, saying that superior customer experience is the differentiator for retail marketers.

TRUE

Stokes uses the acronym TRUE to summarize the approach that she recommends, which stands for trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential. These are certainly great targets for any brand, especially one that wishes to avoid racing to the pricing bottom each season. But how does a brand interact with a customer in a way that meets those requirements both at the holidays and throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall?

Answering that question is more of a challenge than those four adjectives would imply.

Gaining Trust

Consumer expectations are rising fast in the digital age. Knowing where and when a customer wants to be engaged is an enormous part of being trusted. Unwanted or tone-deaf communication breaks trust.

Appearing Remarkable

Great marketing gets attention from the customer and, even more, makes them a brand advocate. An advocate tells their network about their experience because it was that good. But it has to be perceived as repeatable to be shared.

Being Unmistakable 

Being just another bright red flyer in the mailbox isn’t very unmistakable. For a brand to be set apart, it has to promise and deliver an experience that is very personalized and relevant.

Perceived as Essential

Being essential means there’s no competitor that can match a brand’s service or customer experience. A customer feels they have no alternative but to continue to do business with the brand because that’s the best path to satisfaction.

Savvy consumers increasingly using digital means to choose brands will channel their spending toward brands that can delivery on these concepts. Loyalty platforms are the essential tool that make being TRUE possible in a highly competitive marketplace. Are you ready to be TRUE to your customers? You have months before crunch time comes again and now’s the time to create your new plan of action.

Learn more at www.loyaltylab.com/expertise, and watch our webinar, The Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014.

 

Why Customer Loyalty and Why Right Now?

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

During a recent trip to the grocery store, I commented at the checkout that I always receive coupons for baby food and diapers along with my receipt. I said sarcastically to the clerk, “You’d think I shop for those things and they know it.” The clerk nodded and completely seriously said, “I know, right? It’s like they’re watching everything. Doesn’t it seem creepy?” I had to laugh, but not until I was out of view. Like any period of rapid change, not everyone is fully briefed on the latest events in the digital revolution.

So Much Change

The clerk’s response isn’t all that surprising in the retail world, where so much is changing so quickly. As McKinsey said recently, we’re in the middle of a data analytics revolution. Everything we thought we knew has changed, and our ability to know the customer and tailor offers and other interactions is remarkably strong. Not everyone, the clerk included, realizes that customer loyalty is the opposite of creepy. In an era where so much can be known, predicted, and acted upon, loyalty programs are the only way to help the customer to feel comfortable with a brand’s knowledge of their habits and personal information.

Giving My Permission

A brand I feel loyal to, like my local grocery story, has my permission to track my spending patterns and to make offers on the products I’m most likely to buy or be willing to try. I look forward, in fact, to seeing what discounts and other deals they have in store for me. Think back to “coupon packs” and newspaper fliers of just a few years ago, where the majority of items were unlikely to catch our interest, and you’ll see just how far loyalty programs have come. Today’s programs have outgrown the simple points and plastic of yesterday’s brand loyalty and are executed as an integrated, marketer-friendly, data-enriched, real-time system.

A Loyalty-Driven Revolution

For retail, the digital analytics revolution that McKinsey talks about is loyalty-driven—it’s that simple. Brands that don’t invest in smart customer loyalty management risk breaking trust with their customers and losing business to the competitor who does.

To learn more, download our whitepaper on Customer Loyalty Management.

Making Marketing Magic Happen

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Customer experience management is a simple term that describes both a level of effort and wealth of insight that’s never before been required of marketers. The effort is higher because a customer’s experience is very personal and connected to a wide-ranging set of information that describes every past interaction with a brand—whether online, in the store, or on their smartphone. To top that off, customer experience is also defined by the environment around a customer at the moment in which they interact. It is a perfect combination of past and present.

The Enterprise Service Bus

Making the magic happen is all about being able to see customer historical data combined with contextual data arriving in real time. A company needs to be able to capture and use this data—that makes the magic happen. This isn’t a simple affair; it requires a level of connectivity provided by technologies like an enterprise service bus (ESB).

When we talk about integration technology like an ESB, it’s really important to make the distinction between technologies that connect the entire enterprise and technologies that connect anything less. Only an enterprise-wide integration plan can pull together the many pieces of data that support a great customer experience. Marketing analysis of an unlimited set of data is what sets the stage for everything to happen.

Establishing Meaningful KPIs

Given enough data, self-discovery visualization tools create insights leading to development of triggers that allow a brand to intervene in moments of risk or opportunity. It could be a customer about to depart a loyalty program or contract, or a chance to cross-sell or up-sell a purchase. Regardless, the rules that are written to create the best brand responses need to be used in simulation to prove their value and improve their accuracy. This proof step allows KPIs to be established that will be used later to ensure campaigns are working as planned. Having KPIs planned early, when risk is low, is a very important step.

The best approach isn’t a monolithic system that purports to do it all for you as marketing-in-a-box—that would be inflexible. In reality, it all comes together as agile marketing magic when marketers access enterprise data for analytics, a simulation environment to test their insights, and a way to measure the outcomes and change course when necessary during campaigns.

Are you ready to create marketing magic?

Watch our webinar, The Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014, to learn more about how loyalty, integration, and analytics technologies are intersecting and empowering marketers.

Going Back In Customer Experience Time

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

We spent the past two weeks in Peru and had a great chance to go back in customer experience time. For people accustomed to shopping, traveling and searching for information (often while shopping and traveling), Peru was a stark contrast to what we have in our constantly connected, information-enriched and very loyalty-driven world in the U.S. That didn’t necessarily make the experience less than enjoyable, but it put obstacles in the way of having a great experience. For the brands that served us, it represented an enormous amount of opportunity wasted.

We were customers just waiting to have our experience managed.

A Great Reminder

Peru was a very valuable reminder of the power of well-executed loyalty programs. In the hectic day-to-day of running a brand’s marketing, it can be easy to forget the value of knowing your customer’s preferences and history, paying attention to the context of the moment, and communicating across the best channel and at the best moment possible for the right effect.

Without these considerations, a brand is no different than the swarm of taxi drivers at the Lima airport, each shouting to get attention, indifferent to the needs or circumstances of the traveler. Without knowing their customer, a brand is like the undifferentiated shops near Machu Picchu advertising tours with the ubiquitous “English spoken here” enticement.

Marketing Has Changed

Marketing has changed drastically in the places where the leading edge technologies are in use. Thanks to technology like integrated loyalty platforms, brands have been given permission to know where their customers have traveled with the brand and can figure out when and where they’re likely to make decisions to buy in the future. They can watch for the conditions that are favorable to communicate with their customer and send the messages most likely to get the intended response.

Peru was a great reminder that marketing today is a different game than it was just a few years ago. It was a great reminder that transactions aren’t nearly the same as customer engagement.

Meeting Your Customers Where They Are, Anytime, Anywhere

by Chris Taylor 

Many made predictions as 2013 kicked off, but one caught my eye. Forrester’s Nigel Fenwick called this new year the Year of Digital Business. As Fenwick points out, there has been a communications evolution that has many retailers scrambling to find ways to get closer to their customers with innovative new real-time marketing technology to beat the competition. Continue reading

Just Who Owns the Customer, Anyway?

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

As technology expands rapidly to manage customer experience, a subtle shift is under way in who gathers and uses loyalty and other data to manage the customer relationship.

No one needs to remind us how quickly the nature of shopping and customer experience is changing. We see signs of it everywhere and need look no further than the startups, pattern of acquisitions and alignment of technologies reported in the tech press every day.

The big question

There’s a second shift happening that might not be quite as apparent as those news reports. It involves manufacturers creating ‘direct to consumer’ capabilities that open the door to the question, “Just who owns the customer?”

This is being driven partly by infrastructure spend by the biggest product companies that serve fashion, sports and fitness, grocery and every other major category. Technology now allows for personalized, one-to-one marketing relationships from the biggest manufacturers down to the individual consumer.

This side of e-commerce isn’t about the money, necessarily – that will remain mostly in the hands of the front-end of retail. It is more about additional touch points that build trust, relationships and communication that complement retailer activities.

Retailers playing catch up

This leaves the retailers needing to follow through on the brand-building investment of their suppliers. Many retailers are still slow off the blocks when it comes to customer-facing technology. That will need to change quickly to keep pace with rising customer expectations of convenient, in-the-moment offers and loyalty rewards.

Just who owns the customer will be decided based on who has the best system to manage the new model and set and meet those expectations.

Join us on February 12 for the webinar, The New Event-Driven Marketing: Success with Real-Time, Omni-Channel Engagement.