The greater the extent that a customer is prepared to spend time with a company, the more chance that they are likely to become loyal, profitable advocates for your brand. And it’s this focus on customer engagement that is becoming an increasingly important for marketers. A recent report conducted by B2B Marketing and the Telemarketing Company revealed that 81% percent of respondents consider it a top priority.
How can organizations improve this engagement and start to build a relationship with their customers that is more beneficial to both parties? For many, the emphasis is on creating real-time experiences that prioritize customer service, add relevance through personalization or an enhanced level of convenience. Essentially, being available whenever a customer needs them, whatever the device they are using, with information that is relevant to their needs.
While many major brands already have manned Twitter accounts for a rapid response to customer queries and complaints, others are employing alternative methods to connect with their customers and encourage a more emotional connection with their organization.
In Canada in 2014, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) set about trying to boost ridership and retain its customers. At the center of its new reward and recognition program was STM Merci, a mobile app that used personalized experiences to encourage people to use its public transport services. Integration with the Opus travel card – which had been collecting data about its customers’ travel habits for several years prior – means the Merci app is able to serve up rewards relevant to passengers’ tastes (such as museum discounts for art students), while geolocation technology delivered promotional offers based on their distance from a nearby retailer.
Earlier this year, Australian convenience store 7-Eleven launched its 7-Eleven Fuel App, a customer engagement program it claims to “the first app of its kind”. Created by real-time mobile analytics platform VMob, the app allows customers to identify the lowest prices for petrol at their local 7-Eleven store and pay that price at any store location within seven days, using their pre-pay loyalty card. Not only does this app provide value for customers, a use of real-time analytics encourages customer retention.
Elsewhere, food delivery service Zomato became an early adopter of in-app customer support. For businesses that run primarily within a mobile app, Zomato provides real-time support messaging for engaging with customers, enabling the business to resolve queries without them having to go outside the app and communicate via other channels, such as phone or email. This helps keep the context of the query readily available and allows for quick and seamless resolution of the problem.
In the automotive world, the customer experience used to focus almost entirely around product based interactions. Later in the year, Ford Motor Company will launch its new customer-centric program, FordPass, which is already predicted to be “as revolutionary [to the relationship between car manufacturers and customers] as iTunes was to the music world.”
FordPass aims to engage with customer at many more points during their lifecycle. Along with allowing them to spec new vehicles, the app can book and pay for parking spaces, access loyalty rewards, receive live chat help with virtual personal assistants, arrange car rentals and more. Not only does this offer many opportunities for real-time engagement with customers, it will provide Ford with previously untapped streams of useful insight.
Moving away for a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to marketing with personalized apps like this helps create new and emotive connections with customers, encouraging retention and developing enthusiastic, satisfied consumers who are eager brand champions.