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Kim Welther has but one bit of advice that she shares with her clients: always become your customer.
As the Vice President of Marketing Strategy at Baesman, she encourages brands to duplicate as much as they can what the customer is going through when they interact with the brand from a digital experience.
“Make sure that you’re giving the same kind of experience that they have in every channel,” Welther says.
“Brands need to understand where the hurdles are, and where the frustrations are. You really have to bring that to light.”
Welther recently told Loyalty360 CEO Mark Johnson in an interview that some brands get so tied into the process and strategy of customer engagement and loyalty programs, that they neglect to see things from the other side of the transaction.
“I think some brands forget to take a minute and become the customer,” she says. “You can’t improve the experience unless you understand it, and you bring it to life in the brand around those challenges.”
Making Sure To Have A Roadmap In Place
Welther leads Baesman’s loyalty, data, and strategic initiatives, and her task is to drive client growth, customer acquisition, and creating data-driven retention strategies. She did that before joining the Baesman team when she spent more than a decade at Victoria’s Secret in their direct-to-consumer campaign strategies and analysis.
Jeremy Riga, Baesman’s Vice President for Technology, told Loyalty360’s Johnson, his main piece of advice to clients is to make sure they have a roadmap in place to get out of any technological backlogs they may have and to execute against them quickly.
“What COVID has shown us is that when adaptation is required quickly for survival — and for growth — that brands can move very quickly and adapt very quickly,” Riga says. “Elevating some of those technology projects that cause hiccups and customer experience issues is a place where people should focus a lot of effort.”
Over his almost two decades as a technologist, Riga says that the biggest challenges he sees with some brands are what he defines as ‘technological debt’ from legacy systems companies are continuing to utilize, but that prevent them from upgrading to more cohesive systems.
“It’s technological debt that’s been carried forward from previous generations,” he says. “It could be e-commerce or POS systems, but those things really begin to water down what are otherwise great intentions that have been set aside inside of a brand to foster a strong relationship and grow loyalty.”
Testing and Adopting New Customer-Facing Technologies
Riga says that brands run into problems when they can’t invest in research and development of new systems, or test and adopt new customer-facing technologies quickly enough to be effective.
“What they end up doing is sitting on a legacy system and getting passed by as new companies are coming along who are technologically native,” he says. “They’re starting on stronger platforms and without the legacy debt that carries forward, and doesn’t really hold people back from doing the things that they want to do for their customers.”
Welther says the Baesman group is aware that the pandemic has caused some brands to rethink their 2020 budgets, which includes technology upgrades and new platforms.
“Of our two biggest challenges, number one is always budget and trying to do more with less,” she says. “Budget is always the marketer’s challenge, and really trying to understand the profit centers that we currently have and maximizing those.”
Building the Right Experience
She says the second challenge is new technology, and that Baesman is seeing constraints for marketers, especially within program experience and strategy, and not having the ability to build the right experience or have the right strategy in place to make the differences they know need to be made.
“If the technology isn’t easily integrated into a client’s web or their POS and all of their customer channel experiences, then it’s going to be a problem,” Welther says. “We have to eliminate those customer hurdles that bad technology keeps putting up.”
Riga concurred, saying that some companies are utilizing a POS system that was purchased up to 15 years ago.
“If you are still running on that type of system today, it’s going to be very difficult for you to think about next-generation business opportunities,” he says. “So when I talk about technical debt, that’s really what I’m referencing: older platforms that inhibit brands from making the decisions they want to make for their customers.”
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