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How Technology is Changing Customer Experience and Engagement

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Marketing Director, Americas , Emarsys

Constant technological innovations are clearly changing and evolving the nature of relationships between brands and consumers. The number of channels, it seems, increases daily. Competitors clutter the landscape. There are more technology solutions within MarTech, AdTech, CRM, and Analytics than ever before.

However, is the expansion of automation and technology solutions creating a better, higher quality customer experience?

I was lucky enough to spend some time at a recent conference in London. US-based Zendesk was in attendance, as well as Emarsys’ European clients and leading brands from retail, finance, and utilities, including disruptors like Deliveroo, were also there.

The conference opened with a simple message from Mikkel Svane, CEO and Co-Founder of Zendesk: “Successful brands see customer experience and customer service as drivers of business growth and innovation.” Amazon, Tesla, Netflix, Everlane, and Deliveroo are disruptive and innovative brands not only because they’re fanatical about customer engagement, but they consistently provide an experience their customers don’t expect. By maintaining this high level of customer service, they see repeat business and acquire new customers at a lower cost.

A few key customer retention points to note:

  •   Satisfied customers are 60% more likely to recommend or promote a brand. This means both new and repeat business.
  •   Detractors are 70% more likely to tell people about their negative experience, typically via social media or review site. This means no repeat business and tougher acquisition.

These facts are further backed by a recent survey conducted global research firm Econsultancy entitled, “Enterprise Priorities in Digital Marketing”, that states 62% of digital marketing leaders rated “improving customer service” and “customer satisfaction” as a top priority. They also called out a favourite statistic – the average spend from repeat buyers is five times higher than that of one-time shoppers.

As Svane put it, “We’re entering an age of customer retention.”

In an age of social media and real-time interaction, our modern consumer is demanding and short tempered. For 2017, the number of smartphone users in Hong Kong is estimated to reach 5.6 million. That’s 5.6 million Hong Kong residents with immediate access to the internet to communicate quickly and effortlessly, and when they don’t get what they want they tell EVERYBODY! As demonstrated by Kevin Smith in his, “I don’t need two seats”, tweet to Southwest Airlines.

Andrew Hui, head of marketing at Starbucks Hong Kong and Macau, pointed out how Starbucks uses data collection to create customer profiles they can then use to create better customer programmes and experiences. “A lot of brick and mortar stores find it difficult to capture data,” Hui said. “The good thing is that we have started already. We launched our mobile loyalty programme two years ago and have established one-on-one marketing to make sure we are sending messages they’d like to receive. But then there is more to do in terms of integrating different data sources. So, a unified customer profile is necessary down the line.”

Hui said a survey from Starbucks US showed 47% of its customers favoured Starbucks because of the connection between staff and customers and the experience provided.

At the conference, there was also talk of chatbots and artificial intelligence; however, the common consensus was that for businesses to succeed, they need to look at how they’re using that technology to provide better experiences. But just as important is to find out when customers are not having a great experience by asking via surveys, ratings, and feedback, and to act upon it accordingly – especially early on in their customer lifecycle.

For more information regarding the customer lifecycle, read our recap of our webinar highlighting the results from Econsultancy’s Understanding the Customer Journey in Asia-Pacific report, produced in association with Emarsys. The report looks at how organisations map customer journeys and their understanding of them.

Our team at Emarsys is also seeing more customers within our own client base integrate NPS (Net Promoter Score) into their marketing efforts to understand if a customer is going to be a promoter or a detractor, and leverage that information accordingly. Our client, Runtastic, the world’s leading fitness app provider, leverages our Mobile Engage functionality to trigger in-app messages and gather feedback via NPS at specific points of the customer’s lifecycle. That rating is used to determine the customer’s future path, including rating and review requests which drive new downloads and organic growth.

One of the biggest use cases for integrated SMS and offline interactions is to ask new customers for feedback after their first purchase. Shiseido, one of the world’s largest cosmetics brands, talked recently at a customer event in Hong Kong about how important it is to act on feedback if a brand wants to drive repeat purchases. They have seen huge increases in conversion rates to repeat purchase by having their call centre team call customers who haven’t had a great experience in store. Properly handling bad experiences can actually make money for the company!

Regardless of channel, utilising automation is critical to improving the lives of customers and provide them with great experiences. Perhaps just as important is finding out whether a brand is achieving that goal and addressing it accordingly, via the channels that suit customers the best.

Final Thoughts

Just how key the customer experience is to driving growth was echoed in a great quote from the CEO of Ryanair, the man who once said, in print and in public: “You’re not getting a refund so f*ck off… What part of ‘no refund’ don’t you understand?” He said of his company’s recent focus on improving customer experience to drive growth: “If I’d known being nicer to customers was going to work so well, I would have started many years ago!”