->How has the digital landscape impacted customer expectations in the last few years?
Customer expectations continue to rise with emerging tech – the newer generation of shoppers are looking for instant gratification and more relevance. This has encouraged brands to be more nimble in the experiences they offer customers – from a consistent and easy omnichannel cx to a more channel agnostic buying experience. Both parties are aware we’ve entered into the age of the empowered customer where convenience and the relationship with a brand are key decision makers for consumers. It’s important for brands to respect the value exchange they have with their customers. As we opt-in to give brands more and more information about ourselves, we expect them to know us and to deliver content and experiences that make sense at every interaction we may have with a brand. At this point, with the sophistication of the tech available, brands have more opportunity than ever to market not around their product – which tends to alienate consumers – and instead market around the consumer.  
->Has any industry been immune to the shifts in consumer demands associated with better technology? Is product adaptability the new norm within all markets, regardless of brand prominence?
Most industries need to wrangle in their tech to better serve their customers. But, as in any business, a brand’s success starts with a high quality product, and we’re hearing from many that lack of differentiation, heavy discounting and high competition has cut into margins, which leads to lower quality products. Many retailers have lost their way and their brand message by diminishing margins – and it’s time for them to use the technology and the data they have to grow their customer relationships and increase their bottom line.
Shifts in consumer demands have affected nearly every industry, and customers are starting to show their frustration with businesses that fail to adapt to the new tech. This is easy to see across a number of verticals: retail, FI and even telco industries, where brands have daily interaction data on every customer, yet they’re primarily focused on new customer acquisition. This leaves little reason for customers to be loyal, when they know changing providers or switching banks will give them better offers. With the amount of data these industries have, creating differentiated experiences through tech would greatly increase retention, as well as the positive emotions customers feel for the brand.
Some industries have been better at adopting emerging tech than others. Recently, we’ve seen retail brands integrating the in-store experience – for which there’s still a demand – with the digital experience and becoming truly channel agnostic.  An example is Sephora with their virtual makeup artists or Neiman Marcus with their magic mirror dressing rooms and the “Snap. Find. Shop” feature through their app.
However, brands shouldn’t feel the need to innovate for the sake of innovation. Where the tech can streamline the customer experience and enhance the product offering is where they should be looking. For highly prominent brands that have already become lifestyle habits for their customers, don’t change your product offering for the sake of technology.
->Technology creating content overload seems to be a newer problem within the loyalty realm. How can brands find a healthy balance between personalized marketing and being an annoyance to consumers?
Finding that balance between relevant messaging and annoying your customer starts with knowing who your customer is. Loyalty is one of the best tactics for building out deep customer profiles off transactions and interactions – what we call the Golden Profile - because it asks consumers to self-identify at each touchpoint. Aimia’s customer-centric SmartJourneyTM methodology then takes these deep customer profiles of transactional, behavioral and emotional data to create unique journeys across certain milestones measured against industry and internal benchmarks. From there, strategy, communications and analytics professionals determine the best messaging and experiences to appeal to the members at that stage in their journey. Through this process, our CMO clients know the value of each of their customers at any point in time, which allows them to make sound business decisions in terms of growth or the right timing to bring in additional technology. And ultimately, this 6-step process to individualized loyalty journeys allows our clients to become customer obsessed and best serve their members.
->Decreased customer attention has been a major factor associated with some of the shifts in the last few years. With fewer time being spent by consumers listening to brands, what can brands do to quickly capture the attention of consumers within today’s landscape?
Rising above the promotional fray certainly is a challenge for many brands. Consumers are inundated with messaging across more mediums than ever before. As mentioned above, knowing your customer is the key to speaking to them. We’ve worked with some brands in the past who used multiple emails daily with broad offers, thinking a certain percentage of their customers will take advantage of it. Instead, they probably ended up in more junk folders than not. After walking through the steps of the SmartJourney methodology, one company identified several top key segments of customers – including a complete perception change on who their highest value customers were. From there, they automate targeted messaging and offers to lift sales 14% in the first 90 days of their new campaign process.

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