The second day of Customer Expo 2019 saw Eliot Hamlisch, Senior Vice President of Global Loyalty and Partnerships for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, take the stage to deliver a session entitled “Leveraging Personalization to Deliver Superior Customer Experiences.” With over 80 million members across 20 brands, Hamlisch’s organization faces a challenge in drawing insight from its vast consumer data to derive actionable insights that drive personalized and engaging experiences.
Hamlisch began his talk by playing a clip from Meet the Parents, in which the lead character, played by Ben Stiller, is asked to wait to board a plane when, quite visibly, he is the only person in line for the flight. Hamlisch noted that this bad service experience was ultimately due to the fact that the employee responsible for handling boarding did not use the available data (the absence of other travelers) to better the customer’s experience. The takeaway was that data only matters if it is used effectively.
He then spoke of how a brand in the Wyndham family, LaQuinta, had encountered a challenge communicating with consumers. Hamlisch and his team looked through the available data and found that digital communication (which was being used exclusively) did not always engage these particular rewards members. They found that a mix of digital and direct-mail communications would do more to engage these consumers and would yield a justified ROI. The mixed communication strategy successfully engaged Wyndham Rewards members who stayed with the LaQuinta brand.
Hamlisch then discussed three brands that he believes are successfully leveraging their consumer data. He noted that the men’s shaving brand, Supply, succeeded in earning his loyalty when he returned a product and received an email asking what he didn’t like about it. The conversational tone of the email made him feel that the brand was listening, and he subsequently ordered other products that worked for him.
Then, Hamlisch noted that Netflix succeeds in using its consumer data when it invests in new content. The streaming service analyzes its users viewing histories and invests heavily ($15 billion in 2019) to deliver movies and shows that will engage them. This process even brought about the hit series House of Cards, which Netlfix invested in before any filming had begun.
Lastly, Hamlisch extolled Spotify’s ability to create emotional connections. In addition to offering music recommendations based on each consumer’s listening history, the service offers each user a year-end review. The review displays the genres and tracks the listener has used the most over the course of the year. Hamlisch said that this led him to develop an emotional loyalty with Spotify. The service also has a “Time Capsule” feature, which uses listening history to offer nostalgic playlists of what the user was likely listening to in previous decades. He was impressed by the feature’s accuracy.
Hamlisch concluded with three key takeaways, based on each these brand’s uses of data. The lesson from Supply was to “Be Human” and approach consumers personably and conversationally. Netflix reminds us to “Invest Strategically” to deliver the content consumers love. And the lesson from Spotify is to “Listen and Engage,” using data to deliver meaningful, emotional experiences.

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