Keeping Customers Loyal in a Unique Fashion - Loyalty360 Exclusive Q&A Interview with Aaron Roy, CEO of Wami

Wami goes “beyond the inbox” by delivering customers with personalized handwritten notes. As an engineering and marketing services partner, they recognize the need for delivering a high-quality product, specific to customer needs. In order to get out of customers heavily blasted email inbox, they have developed the technology to master the creation of handwritten notes to enhance campaigns in a quick and scalable way.
To learn more about communicating impactfully with loyal customers, Loyalty360 recently spoke with Aaron Roy, CEO of Wami. Roy provided insight into the partnerships they provide brands in the way they communicate with their customers. Roy touched on topics ranging from targeting customers through clean data, to their unique way of retaining and acquiring new customers in a communication heavy, digital blasted world.
Can you give us an introduction to your company? (ex: what do you, how you do it, industries you work with).
Wami is an engineering and marketing services company, best known for our personalized handwritten notes at scale. We have sent millions of notes for brands in luxury fashion, luxury goods, and direct to consumer. We have done a lot of work to create a physical touch point with customers in a mostly digital world. 
Can you tell us a bit about your role within the organization?
I spend majority of my time talking to our current clients, and prospective clients about the challenges they face. Our goal is to be a partner, not just provide handwritten notes. We want to be a partner that can help our clients with whatever their challenges may be, whether it is improving retention or finding a new audience to target.
What is the biggest challenge and/or opportunity you are seeing regarding customer loyalty & customer experience today? How are you addressing it?
The thing we have seen non-stop, is data cleanliness. For example, the ‘Jane Doe’ that buys a beautiful bag online isn’t always connected to the same ‘Jane Doe’ that comes in store. When building a personalized experience with personalized communication, how do you know which profile is accurate? How do you know that you’ve captured this person at each stage of their journey?
For Wami, there are internal tools in the services we provide to focus on just that. How do we clean the data? How do we understand the actual picture of who we are targeting? How do we speak to them correctly, and in a way that they will engage with?
Has this changed over the last year to 18 months?
Absolutely. There is more data than ever! There is now data coming in from ten different aggregate pipelines - that only adds to the chaos. I think it’s great we are starting to think about how we personalize based on data, but how do we capture the data and make it actionable all in a short period of time? We can’t hire more and more people to decipher and act on the data for it to become a hurdle versus an asset.
Can you give us an overview of Wami’s offering and technology?
Wami’s core offering and what we are best known for is our personalized handwritten notes at scale. We have a fleet of hundreds of robots holding pens. We have built different types of software using low level machine learning to digitize people’s handwriting. We can ingest handwriting and produce millions of variations of how that person may write. This is proprietary software for the robots to take the trained handwriting and produce notes in that style. The goal, if you are a CEO/CMO and you want to write 50,000 handwritten notes (in theory you could do it yourself with a lot of time), they can work with Wami and do it in a repeatable fashion, predictable fashion and quick. Our technology allows Wami to slide into that gap, being able to produce campaigns quickly at scale, in a beautiful manner.
How is it unique to the market or different than your competitors?
In the handwritten note space, I can compete with myself to write a note. However, we are a technology and a marketing partner, working with businesses (not a direct to consumer technology), to help brands succeed. Our question isn’t how many notes do you want to send, but what is your goal for this campaign? We craft everything we do around helping the client communicate that. For example, if the goal is to have twenty percent of the audience reengage – we share types of copy that perform best, provide stationary recommendations, and envelope or delivery mechanisms that perform the best to achieve success for reengaging customers.
How are brands measuring these efforts?
One of the keyways to measure impact, let’s imagine we sent 20,000 handwritten notes with a unique promo code, inviting customers to shop online or to come in store and visit. You have set a benchmark to measure against. The customer received a note against the test email and engaged at a higher conversion rate. Wami is also able to look at thank you notes being sent and measure the repeat shopper rate against someone who has only received email communication or standard marketing collateral. Those become the core metrics.
How do you define customer loyalty? Do you think that definition is consistent to what it may have been 18 months ago?
Customer loyalty is about moments that bring joy and make customers want to come back to a brand or tell someone they know that they had an awesome experience. It has changed over 18 months, in that the bar is higher in terms of personalization and other aspects. For a brand to deliver an outstanding customer experience now, and to build that level of loyalty, there is more they need to do in the baseline. The brand needs to know who I am, know my preferences, and have a holistic picture of what I care about. This raises the bar of what they can provide me in terms of value. 
One of the Top 4 Trends/Topics Brand Members have asked Loyalty360 to focus on in 2020 is personalization, segmentation, and cadence management. How are you looking at personalization, segmentation, and cadence management? How can your offering and expertise help brands in this area?
Personalization is table stakes. If you are not personalizing at this point and sending blast emails that get buried in inboxes, you won’t be here very long. The rise of platforms like Shopify, you have many more brands competing for the same set of eyes.
When you move into cadence management and looking at just emails, there are diminishing returns very quickly. If you are a mattress company sending 121 emails over the course of a year or month, that can be overwhelming. But if you are a fashion brand sending twenty emails over the course of a month, that might be a preferable cadence. I think cadence is specific to the market segment, with a line where it becomes overwhelming. In speaking with digital marketers, they are seeing diminishing returns in the channels they might have relied on because it is a saturated place.
For brands that have brought in other channels, like handwritten notes, it is not meant to be a commoditized touchpoint. It is meant to be scalpel, as we would not recommend sending a handwritten note to your entire email list because it would diminish the value. Targeting people who have been loyal to your brand or have the attributes to being loyal down the road, that’s when a handwritten note will perform well. There is a base that you are building on top of versus a cold touch.  
Can you give an example of something unique that a brand is using your platform for?
One of my favorite campaigns was for Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. They had general managers from different locations invite people back in that they haven’t seen in a while. It was very well delivered and specific targeting. I was always impressed with how much they cared about these groups. This was one stop along the way, but a very personal one to gain rapport for two physical locations. It was a unique and effective way to deliver handwritten notes.
If you could ask a competitor or brand one question about customer loyalty what would that be?
If I could ask one group a question on customer loyalty, it would be Supreme. For a company that takes their brand and applies it to other items, their level of loyalty is amazing. No matter what they roll out, they’ve built a hype mechanism. It doesn’t matter what it is, if they released a Supreme microphone, there would be a line around the corner, it would be sold out before it hit the market and not only are they happy about acquiring the item – they want to tell everyone they know! They have done an amazing job and would love to sit down with their team and understand their grander vision because where they are today is incredible.
What do you think is the next “big thing” for customer loyalty/customer experience?
Predictive personalization. I see what Amazon is doing with their cashless stores. Being able to walk in, swipe and walk out of the store but still be connected to who you are as an Amazon profile is bananas in regard to raising the bar for personalization. Other omni-channel retailers are going to have pressure applied. If I purchase X online, when I walk into your store, I want to have a personalized experience that matches what I consume online. That is a challenge, but the stakes are continually going higher and brands will have to meet these standards that brands at the bleeding edge are pushing.  

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