How to keep on winning
Last year, the renowned Harvard Business Review treated us with another great publication on customer relationships: “The age of relevance”. In that single article they convincingly settle with the paradigm that customer relationships are mainly about brand loyalty. In the actual age of relevance, winning brands are relevant brands.
To keep winning, brands must do everything in their power to know their customers and the context, at all times. And like those smart guys from Harvard did for me; a bit of WOW-ing. But how do you accomplish that?
It starts by collecting data about customer preferences (with their consent) and placing it in the right context. Then use these insights to tell the right message at the right time, in a simple manner. With the right sentiment, of course…
That may sound complicated, but it is simply a matter of being human. It makes a traditional brand-customer relationship much more a – excusez le mot – person-person relationship.
I am convinced that this marketing and communication will change radically in the coming decade: brands can truly become personal and relevant. Causing brands to become loyal to customers instead of the other way around.
Brands must become human
Because people are more sensitive about how something is said compared to what is said, brands will have to invest as much in customer experience as in their products or services.
How do you handle that? I listed the 4 commandments for a loyal brand, with relevant examples:
1. Be hyper-personal and contextual
It starts with defining preferences and context: What is someone’s location? What was the most recent trigger? What are the most relevant and recent results within the target group? Use all available data for this, to quickly assess who the customer is and in which context he or she is.
This can become easier by using marketing technology. Like new generation CRM tools, location-based services, API’s to unlock databases in real-time, and increasingly: artificial intelligence (AI).
With this last buzz word you can think of simple A/B tests, whereby the most-clicked button is automatically shown on a website. Booking.com is constantly experimenting with this to improve customer experience during the booking process. More about this later.
2. Build trust, be respectful and honest
3. Keep it simple
Brands are increasingly unable to distinguish themselves with functional values according to Byron Sharp, a major critic of traditional loyalty programmes. Although I see nuances in Sharp’s ideas, he does see one thing well: differentiation at product level is passé. Ultimate convenience in use and communication is becoming increasingly important for relevant interaction and high conversion.
There are countless examples of brands that are doing a good job on this subject. From large online retailers to airlines that are always working on making their customer journeys as seamless and simple as possible. The “Tikkie” payment app is a good example of a service that is smart, simple and intuitive. With Tikkie you can easily ask for or transfer money without entering the account number. You create a “Tikkie” and simply share it via WhatsApp, mail or social account. Add a banking app with facial recognition and you’ve paid ór received your money in 2 clicks and a big smile. And what also makes Tikkie smart: it operates independently but under the wings of ABN AMRO bank. Making it universally applicable and very reliable.
4. Create WOW moments
The last command is one that Elvis mastered: create WOW moments and you get fans for life. And sometimes even longer ;-)
Various studies, published by Forbes and TTEC among others, show that the true WOW moments are the moments when people truly experience benefit or genuine involvement. For example, when a new product is delivered or when you are the first to try out a new cloud service. Personally, I still get excited about unpacking and switching on a new smartphone or updating my favorite apps. For the same reason, my son can easily spend an hour watching the unwrapping of Surprise eggs on YouTube.
A second major category of WOW moments is when problems are solved, which very often means positive contact with the service desk or a specialist. For example, the bank employee who last year repaid the € 250 that was transferred by me by my own mistake. It was my own stupid fault, but at that moment I was só happy. And that is usually not an emotion you often feel with your own bank.
By continuously monitoring, evaluating and improving those WOW moments as a brand, you make your customers happier and more loyal. To build the ultimate customer experience and to become relevant and loyal as a brand, all 4 mentioned commands are important. But the fourth commandment, “the WOW,” is the glue that connects everything and creates an emotional bond.
So WOW-ing it is, in 2019. I am looking forward to it!