Customer data and the right technologies helping to create consistently personalized experiences across all channels.
RETAILERS are constantly searching for and developing ways to communicate more effectively with their customers in an attempt to engender deeper trust and loyalty. And, considering the digital revolution happening today combined with the number of data sources and technologies that can be employed by retailers to achieve this, the options can be mind-boggling.
Canadian Retailer recently sat down with Andrew Armstrong, Chief Customer Officer with omNovos— an omni-channel customer engagement solutions provider—to talk about personalization and customer loyalty and the ways retailers can leverage the data that they already have to create strategies that will result in truly personalized experiences for their customers.
CR: In today’s digitally-connected world, how important is it for retailers to offer personalized engagement across all channels?
AA: Personalization is critical. But I think it’s equally important for retailers to understand what personalization really means. Our industry is under siege with messages from vendors touting their own definitions. And it’s hurting retailers. It isn’t about profiles or segmentation. Personalization is about the individual. Every customer is unique. Each has very specific goals when it comes to shopping. And each customer does it differently. Some like to touch and feel. Some shop online, preferring not to leave the comfort of their home. There is no commonality—no set path that any two customers will follow—and the reality we all have to accept is that the customer is now the journey. There’s no set path that any of them follow.
CR: What role does technology play in helping retailers create a personalized experience for their customers?
AA: Technology that is available today allows retailers to target specific shoppers with messages that are relevant to them and tailored to their unique needs and wants. As an example, a grocer could develop personalized digital flyers containing products that are relevant to the specific recipient—omitting those that do not fit in the pattern or past purchases are known to be “no-go” areas based on dietary restrictions or allergies. If you know your customer is vegan, the fact that Prime Rib is on sale at a great price is irrelevant to them. You’ve wasted their time and that interaction. The digital world has provided us with an opportunity to leverage technology and the customer data that we already have to treat each individual customer as the special people they are. And as you get to better understand a customer that’s shopping more frequently with you and spending more with you, you’re able to move that customer up the value chain by making specific offers or content available to them. You can do amazing things by leveraging data and information about the customer to serve them better, reward their loyalty and create a fantastic, one-of-a-kind experience for them.
CR: How can retailers achieve this level of personalization with customers?
AA: When you can connect the information that you have with the activities, behaviours and transactions that are happening across all channels—online, in-app and in-store—you can create a consistent customer experience. When you understand your customer, you can make recommendations to them, upselling and cross-selling. True personalization is the result of a retailer knowing who the customer is, what they want and how they like to shop.
It’s also important for retailers to understand that omni-channel customer engagement isn’t just one product. It’s not just about the database, or fulfillment, or personalized message or scan-and-pay. It’s about putting all of these tools together to create a fully-featured, world class customer experience.
“You can do amazing things by leveraging data and information about the customer to serve them better, reward their loyalty and create a fantastic, one-of-a-kind experience for them.”ANDREW ARMSTRONG
CR: Loyalty can be viewed in a number of different ways. How do you view loyalty and how does it tie in to personalization?
AA: True customer loyalty is not about dollars or points. It is an emotion. It’s about the love that a customer feels for a brand based on what that brand stands for, how they make the customer feel when they’re in the store, and how they provide that extra level of service that makes the customer feel special, like their business truly is valued. That is Loyalty with a capital ‘L’. Loyalty that focuses on your existing customers will always pay dividends. It is enduring. That kind of loyalty endures the good times and the bad. So, when you look at things in this light, omni-channel customer engagement is really about driving true customer loyalty. After all, loyal customers are as much as nine-times more valuable to any retailer’s bottom line than prospects. So, customer engagement strategies should be about moving customers up the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) chain.
And that’s where we come in. We are not about Customer Acquisition. Our entire focus as a company is on helping retailers drive existing (i.e. known) customers further up the value chain. Turning occasional visitors into fans and fans into advocates. And that’s how data and personalization will drive business going forward.
BY SEAN C. TARRY