If every brand customer experience is accessible via mobile, then you’re headed down the right path.

Mobile has become such a huge component of today’s loyalty industry, yet, some brands excel at mobile customer experiences while others struggle.

Loyalty360 sat down with Stellar Loyalty CEO Kevin Nix.

Loyalty360 sat down with Nix to discuss this intriguing and burgeoning topic of mobile customer engagement.

Mobile has been talked about for quite some time, but has really taken off in recent years. Why do you think this is the case and where do you see it headed?

Nix: Brands are finally waking up to the fact that mobile is not merely a channel for marketing communication, but it’s an actual extension of how they can do business and add value to their customers.

We have seen compelling business results from mobile when the business has invested in digitally transforming its business to take advantage of the innovation mobile has to offer, such as in the case of Starbucks and Domino’s.

We have seen widespread adoption when the brand has made the customer experience frictionless and/or immersive through the mobile device. It involves understanding what is valuable to your customer. In the case of Walmart, the retailer’s Savings Catcher app fit perfectly into the needs of the cost-conscious shopper Walmart caters to. In the case of Taco Bell, its mobile social engagement and games offer connection and fun that fit its customers’ lifestyles.

Industry by industry, we see the innovators and the laggards. In airlines, mobile has made the travel experience faster, simpler and the traveler is in charge–from check in, flight status, changing seats, boarding passes, booking etc. You have your boarding pass, flight alerts, airline club card, etc. all in one place. In comparison, there are those who have not invested in mobile and even some who charge passengers for printing their boarding passes. Customers won’t tolerate that kind of experience for long. 

Couponing is another example. The age of cutting and clipping coupons is over. On the other hand–how many coupon-related apps are you going to check before you head to the store? Imagine instead, your grocery store offering you an app that has digital coupons delivered to you showing your preferences, past purchases and/or weekly deals? A report from CodeBroker found that coupon redemption rates for printed insert coupons is on average .5 percent to 2 percent, emailed coupons is 2.7 percent. For mobile coupons, customers are redeeming them at as high as a 16 percent rate.

These are examples of how mobile is making our lives easier and more rewarding, and it’s just the beginning.

How should companies treat mobile?

Nix: Companies should treat mobile as their top priority. Customers are mobile therefore every brand’s experience needs to be mobile, too. But care is necessary. There are countless examples of mobile applications that are “dead on arrival.” The mobile experience must be compelling – either as a utility that accelerates the transaction or as an enhancement to the overall brand experience.

Why do you think many companies are struggling with the digital transformation of business?

Nix: It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “we’ve always done it this way.” Change is hard. It requires vision, daring and a company willing to think outside the box and take risks. Simply taking the same process you have now and “digitizing” it is not digital transformation. Companies have to be open to breaking the model they have and re-engineering it from the customer’s perspective to deliver something special and delightful for the customer.
This requires executive support, cross-department alignment, and a well thought out strategy that takes into account the full customer experience.
 
What do companies need to do before an undertaking like this to ensure that the backend of their respective business processes are fully and seamlessly integrated?

Nix: Companies need to start by looking at the entire brand experience from the customer’s perspective and model what they’d ideally like that experience to be–across physical, digital and even through retail partners. What can be done to make that experience more enjoyable than it is today and more enjoyable than the competitor’s. 

Once they’ve done that, then they need to think about the process steps and systems required to deliver this experience and develop a plan to put those new processes and systems in place. Next, while it’s not glamorous, brands need to do a thorough analysis of all the backend customer data across multiple systems. What data should be collected, can it be trusted, and how should it be used?

Finally, brands need to be honest in asking themselves if they have the culture to support the kind of transformation needed to drive meaningful customer delight. Is there executive support? Are employees open to and motivated to enact change?

These are important questions to start the transformation to digital.

How can companies blend the digital with the physical and across systems and platforms to achieve a truly frictionless experience?

Nix: Again, the critical point here is thinking through the entire end-to-end customer experience and following it through the customer’s eyes. Bloomingdale’s does one of the best jobs of giving customers the flexibility they want to browse and shop online, yet letting them pick their items up in-store if they like. It makes the digital and physical work together in a way that mirrors the way consumers behave.

The Kansas Lottery PlayOn app is another good example of blending the physical with the digital. The instant scratch tickets are purchased only through brick and mortar retailers. But by incenting players to scan their ticket codes with reward points, contest eligibility or a coupon, the Lottery gains insights into player ticket types, spend, store location and more. This enables the Lottery to provide both a better in store and digital experience.

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