Loyalty marketers mine customer data, searching for unique insights that can be used to tailor a personalized customer experience.

Executing that on a consistent and seamless basis can be quite difficult for many loyalty marketers.
Loyalty360 caught up with Imagine Experience founder and CEO Bill McCoy to get his assessment on the state of Customer Experience.

Customer experience is viewed as the great differentiator among loyalty marketers. In your opinion, what is the key to engaging people with memorable experiences?
McCoy: Personalizing experiences to meet the needs of the customers being engaged is what matters today. Everyone wants to collect experiences and memories as we go through life. Having an experience that’s tailored to the needs of each customer, and not offering something that is broad and cookie cutter, has proven to have the best ROI and level of engagement. Thanks to millennials and the younger generations, this mentality is now expected in our culture.

Many people will even pay more for a better experience. How do you define a memorable customer experience and has that definition evolved at all in recent years, given heightened consumer expectations?
McCoy: We understand that we have the power and responsibility to help people make memories that will stay with them for life, and we can’t get it wrong. Knowing this forces us to be very detail-oriented, and the customer’s experience starts when we first design the experience for the guest. Regardless of the length and budget, we create our experiences to tell a story, just like a book or a movie. Their flow is important, and we consider the introduction, rising and falling actions, climax, and denouement to strike the desired emotions for the guests. To create a memory, our emotions need to be effected. Our format ensures that we positively impact those emotions, resulting in a positive experience and memories made by the guests.

What is being done well from the CX side and where do the challenges lie?
McCoy: Adapting to the CX landscape and the changes of the past decade continue to be a slow evolution for many brands. Today’s customer is primarily concerned with collecting memories through experiences. They purchase tiny homes, they leave their jobs to travel the world, and they’re interested in community-based initiatives, as evidenced by the success of Tom’s Shoes, Airbnb, and Uber. The challenge lies in understanding how to reach customers to engage them. Loyalty programs that give customers the opportunity to do something cool and fun that they’re interested in doing and to make memories to share with their friends on social media are getting it right.

Personalization is touted widely as a crucial piece of the customer loyalty puzzle. What is the key to delivering effective and impactful personalization?
McCoy: Listening and understanding what the program’s goals and objectives are is key, as is having a clear knowledge of the details about the target audience. If you don’t have these answers, then you can’t effectively personalize. One of the things we offer is to personalize an experience after the guest has selected it. We may have provided an experience that hits 80 percent of the guest’s goals when they chose it, but learning about their interests with a phone call allows the experience to be further tailored to the guest. The result is an experience exactly how he or she would plan it themselves, and that creates the win-win with the guest having a positive experience and the brand receiving loyalty from their customer. 

Why do you think many brands are still struggling with providing effective personalization?
McCoy: When brands have a broad reach and large customer base, that’s the opposite of personal and specific. Listening to customers is something all brands do, but it’s how your messaging is delivered that makes all the difference. We customize our experiences to meet the needs of the customer. We listen closely to the details and the objectives of our clients and collaborate directly with them. This ensures that we hit the mark in executing unique experiences that the customer wants to do, and they feel well cared for by the brand. The result is building and enhancing the affinity and loyalty that the customer has for the brand by embedding an incredible memory for the rest of their lives.

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