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During his presentation, “Express on the Role of Customers in the Omni-Channel Strategy,” presented at the Loyalty360 Engagement & Experience Expo held this week in Dallas, Jim Kaniaris, Vice President of Customer Experience at Express, and Lonnie Mayne, President of InMoment, discussed how the Express customer helps inform Express’s omni-channel strategy and focus on customer engagement and brand loyalty.
And it boils down to one thing: A pair of red shoes. Specifically, the red sneakers Mayne was wearing as a symbol of the faith it takes to be different, stand out in the crowd, and take risks. It’s an integral part of Mayne’s approach at InMoment and a reminder that it’s important for companies to stand out as they seek brand loyalty.
Specifically, the red sneakers Mayne was wearing as a symbol of the faith it takes to be different, stand out in the crowd, and take risks. It’s an integral part of Mayne’s approach at InMoment and a reminder that it’s important to stand out.
“The red shoes are really about a movement,” said Kaniaris, pointing at Mayne’s bright shoes. “It’s about taking all the data and adding the human element to stand out on behalf of the customer. We’ve learned that it’s not about the data – but what you do with the data that counts.”
Mayne agreed, adding: “Everyone wants to get to the same place, but very few are brave enough to get there.”
Express Omni-Channel Messaging: What the Customer Wants – Or Do They?
At Express, where the average customer is a fashion-savvy, trendy 20s something, omni-channel messaging is essential for keeping its customers informed and engaged. One of the challenges, said Kaniaris, is making sure that the messages are not merely transactional and mechanical.
“Our customer journey is measured through moments in time; in snapshots,” said Kaniaris. “It’s absolutely paramount to know them and what they expect. “
Millennials are one of the largest demographic segments for Express and the company knows that mobile is how they shop. In fact, 85% of Millennials will shop first on their phone and then visit the store for what they want.
But although surveys and data show Millennials may shop mobile, communicating with them through this platform may not be the best tactic.
“Every brand thinks they want and even needs the shiniest, newest technology, but is that really what their customers want?” said Kaniaris.
Through its work with InMoment, Express learned that Millennials will share almost all personal information with a brand, but only if it’s going to be used in the right way.
“I’ll put it this way,” said Kaniaris. “I don’t call girls up and talk to them about swimwear. You’ve got to avoid messaging that’s creepy. It’s not about doing anything for the sale – it’s about finding a balance between humans and technology.”
Kaniaris said that at Express, the company puts the customer in the center of its experience and considers the transaction point-to-point – but cautions brands not to see a person “as a transaction.” This is where the red shoe philosophy, or the human element, comes into play.
“Every customer has a story,” Kaniaris said. “We have to think about what our customers are experiencing; what their story is about – today, at this point in time.”
Listening to the customer isn’t just about creating the best omni-channel messaging platform, but also gauging what the customer wants.
“The challenge in fashion is that we must be open to innovation – and innovation starts with the customer,” Kaniaris said. “They tell us what they want – from what colors to cuts. How can you tell a fashion story without listening to your customer?”
And listening begins on the front lines with sales associates, who are trained to value each customer as an individual with his or her own unique story.
When it comes to omni-channel delivery, Kaniaris and Mayne agree that it is constantly changing – but what isn’t is the need to put the customer in the driver’s seat.
“In this business there is no finish line, nor does the data suggest there is a finish line,” said Mayne. “All we can do is lace up our red shoes and run a spirited race every day.”
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