In August this year, a McDonald’s customer ordered his usual from a hospital in Dubai. To his surprise, the brown paper bag did not just carry his order but had a surprising note inside. The message said, “Hello! We’ve seen that you’ve placed your order from the hospital. Hope you’re keeping well! Your order is on us.”
This post fueled a chain of reactions on LinkedIn. It is a classic example of how brands can achieve more by leveraging their real-time customer data to create more personalised customer experiences by adding a human touch to their CRM mix. In the age when consumer behaviour is changing – acquiring, retaining, and engaging customers has become more tricky for marketers.
Personalisation is Ace
Personalisation has become an essential ingredient of the CRM mix. Brands are collecting data to engage with consumers more deeply and deliver specific experiences after analysing where customers are in their journey and what they want or are looking for. Such a personalised approach helps brands retain customers and transform them into brand ambassadors.
A classic case study is how American breakfast cereal brands invest in loyalty programmes. Kellogg’s is allowing its customers to utilise their love for the brand to gain a range of monthly rewards. The Kellogg’s family rewards programme was launched in 2012 and aimed to drive cross-portfolio sales, and capture first-party data.
A few years later, the American multinational reported a decline in participation leading to a low generation of first-party data, which is incremental for optimising media buys and driving brand loyalty. This challenge called for the urgent re-imagination and modernisation of the brand’s loyalty strategy.
The need of the hour was a holistic CX for connecting consumers to the brand. Kellogg’s needed personalisation backed by robust strategy, systems, and data. It overcame this challenge by integrating with the Epsilon Loyalty solution to ramp up its operational and technological efficiencies. Publicis agencies and solutions helped the brand create customer engagement across channels.
Segmentation will bring Accuracy
Without proper customer segmentation, the efforts for creating personalisation are likely to be in vain. Mistakes like releasing discount codes after customers make their first purchase can prove costly to customers and may drive them further away from brands. More brands are adopting real-time segmentation to create relevant engagement moments and personalised digital customer experiences.
Paul Wallis, Director of Growth at Epsilon MEA, advised brands to segment their customer base even if they have limited data. He says, “At times, brands get stuck in inertia chasing highly sophisticated segmentation. For more mature programs going beyond traditional segmentation variables such as tier, spend into engagement variables such as digital engagement and redemption behaviour.” Wallis also said brands need to ensure that segments derived are understandable for the marketing team to devise a suitable engagement plan. Periodical revisits are essential to ensure that segmentation is still stable.
To win at personalisation, many marketers prefer real-time segmentation, leveraging the data to understand the audience’s actual state and what they want. With this type of segmentation, marketers can be more relational, observant, and informative and effectively analyse customer behaviours and attributes.
What do the Customers Feel?
Having a state-of-art tech stack solution to capture customer feedback, and feed those insights into the system is essential for any brand for dynamic upgradation of CX. That’s why brands are focusing on creating stronger feedback loops.
Wallis adds, “We have seen programmes capture feedback in multiple modes – directly through periodic member opinion surveys and polls, and indirectly through analysis of social media conversations on owned properties or call centre data. These inputs influence short-term activities such as promotions and longer-term changes in the program value proposition.”
Aiming for Seamless CX
Many brands are investing in delivering seamless customer experiences these days. AI-led personalisation is a tool helping them find what their customers love and make them come back more often.
Seamless CX begins with seamless product discovery followed by a contextual walkthrough across the channels driven by interactive media. More brands are following the WhatsApp route to send relevant notifications to consumers. They are doing away with in-app messaging and email marketing as part of their overall customer engagement strategy.
Hyper-Personalisation for Retaining Consumers
When it comes to investing in a loyalty tech stack, a strong CDP and analytics dashboard are key elements, in addition to integrations that tie up with communication platforms and internal systems. According to Paschalis Petalas, Head – CRM & Service Delivery at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, “Customer data and analytics is a key driver in the design and development of the loyalty tech stack, as better customer analytics will enable improved decision making, personalisation and – combined with agile development – the provision of innovative loyalty offerings for the organisation.”
For example, online shopping giants like Amazon and Walmart suggest products to consumers based on their browsing history.
AI is essential in accumulating, analysing, and evaluating customer data in real-time. Using these insights from data intelligence, brands can conclude if they witness a shift in consumer sentiments. CDP, along with AI and ML, can help brands create a highly personalised UX that has the potential to transform customers to brand ambassadors.
Customer Identity Loss
According to Wallis, customers subscribe to multiple loyalty programmes but are active in only a few. While investing in various tools that create personalised CX, brands need to be mindful of customer identity loss, as it has the potential to cost a slice of their revenue.
“Personalisation is a key driver of member engagement and activity. Loss of identity or failure to build progressively richer member profiles hurts two fronts, first, in loss of opportunity of spending growth on disengaged members; second, in lack of returns on investments made in loyalty liability,” he adds.
Sustaining and flourishing will be a tough battle for brands in the future without personalised loyalty programs. Traditional rewards programmes that ignore customer data will be ineffective in the long run. Brands must put personalisation in the front seat to nurture a customer into a loyal one.