With e-commerce coming of age and new ways of purchasing goods and using services gaining popularity, loyalty is something that has often been taken for granted.
We caught up with Ashley Murdoch, founder of mobile ticketing and data sights provider, Corethree, to discuss the challenges of catering for an increasingly digital, mobile-native customer base.
How have the retail and entertainment industries changed over the last few years?
The rise of omni-channel has dramatically changed the way consumers prefer to shop and interact with brands. Today’s consumers expect a highly personalised and unified customer experience that enables them to shop anytime – whether online, in a physical store or on their smartphone – skip the queues at an event or club and be dealt with the utmost customer care.
Companies are pushed to ensure they are constantly adding value to every step of the customer journey, more than ever before. The smallest hiccup in user experience can drive consumers to competitive services or lead to revenue loss, which has led to the concept of “loyalty” turning into something cheap.
According to the state of the nation “Unfaithful Customer” report, most retail sectors have loyalty rates of under 50%, and the cost of disloyalty amounts to a staggering £147.2bn in revenues. This has put brands under increased pressure to remain fresh, and relevant, something that it is only going to get worse.
How can brands improve on their customer engagement strategies?
The first rule of marketing is knowing your customers. With UK consumers increasingly relying on digital and mobile platforms, there is an opportunity there to take advantage of data and location services to offer a mobile-concierge-type service, even before A and after B.
The power of data-driven marketing is greatly increased when the information is shared and acted upon in real time, and this happens when conversations and transactions occur on mobile devices. From providing mobile ticketing at the door, to suggesting an offer based on your favourite tipple, or giving directions as to where services are. This would have actually helped preventing the recent crisis at the FSTVL gates in East London, where festival goers were collapsing due to lengthy and archaic ways of letting people through the gates.
Can technology aid when it comes to boosting loyalty?
When it comes to gathering valuable insights on your customers, the data is only as good as the technology behind it. A certain degree of analytics is the next logical step after having gathered all the necessary datasets, whether from the customers in real-time or though databases. Machine learning algorithms are now able to let companies find the needle in the haystack in real time, whilst tracking consumer shopping habits and make predictions about which other items a customer would be interested in.
AI-powered applications can now predict why customers are calling in or complaining, with real time feedback on supply chain, operations and processes at large. Another innovative technology that can help companies dig into their customer data is mobile ticketing. As part of a bespoke mobile application reflecting your brand, mobile tickets allow brands to gain valuable insights into each individual customer, therefore functioning as a gateway for some extremely targeted engagement and better crowd control.
What advice would you give to those marketers wanting to capture the tech-savvy consumer?
Team up for collaboration when you can. Where mobile ticketing for public transport already exists, there is a massive opportunity for brands to use mobile apps as a common ground to sell services and be more visible. The festival example rings familiar here, where every kiosk could potentially broadcast its location and offerings to customers. But it doesn’t stop here. Open APIs are seeing banks providing tickets to local attraction or services, to boost reputation and customer engagement outside their financial services remit.
But more importantly, companies need to start capturing customer data to bark at the right tree, at the right time for greater customer satisfaction and retention. A prime example is the work carried out by the UK’s largest nightclub operator The Deltic Group – owner of more than 55 clubs from Aberdeen to Plymouth – which aimed to deliver personalised marketing across multiple entertainment brands through bespoke mobile apps. The digitalisation of their marketing platforms has put the Group in a position to understand which drink clubgoers are most likely to buy during their night out, or what food they most likely crave when they leave the bar, a trend that is taking the world by the storm.
To survive and stay competitive in the digital age, it is essential for companies to start addressing customer retention and satisfaction. Locking customers into loyalty programs by providing discounts and rewards is no longer enough to make them stay connected to a brand. Companies must ask themselves a couple of simple questions if they want to stay relevant and build strong, lasting relationships with their customers.