One of the holy grails for marketers is to find ways to secure customer loyalty. Books have been written on the subject, articles appear frequently about it and experts share strategies about how to increase customer loyalty at conferences. There is no shortage of ideas about how to create loyal customers. In today’s mobile-centric world, I argue that one of the most vital aspects to secure customer loyalty lies in the ability to create a personalized experience.
Why is that? When a customer feels that a company knows them, understands their tendencies, recommends products and services based on their interests, and makes them feel appreciated, they will become loyal customers who also will serve as advocates for the brand.
“Personalization wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff as everyone else sees. No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behavior as the most important clue about what people want and more important, what they need.”
– Seth Godin
While the technical features of a mobile app are important, the key to creating a positive experience is based on the emotion that the customer feels when using the app. For example, what if using a mobile app makes a customer feel excited or happy? It stands to reason that eliciting a positive emotion would make the customer want to continue using the app. This is called emotional engineering. and it assists when you are trying to secure customer loyalty.
The term emotional engineering was coined in the 1970’s by Professor Mitsuo Nagamachi at Hiroshima University in Japan. Professor Nagamachi saw that companies frequently wanted to quantify consumers’ impressions of their goods or services. So, he decided to research how to develop products by taking into account customers’ emotions.
Emotional engineering is an approach that helps persuade customers to take a specific action or act in a certain way. For instance, we sat down with McDonald’s India to discuss their mobile app which was used by customers to place orders. The focus was on producing the emotion of joy and delight, which was what the company strived for with their indoor dining experience, into the new mobile app. After identifying and addressing different pain points in the current version of the mobile app, we made changes that made it easier for the user to customize their order and improved the navigation structure. Simple? Yes, but the changes resulted in a 103 percent increase in orders compared to the original app which simply redirected users from the web-based ordering system.
“Know thy customer” is a familiar term to marketing and sales executives. Yet marketers who don’t take the steps necessary to better understand their customers will not be successful. Regardless of how you gather information about customers, it’s imperative that you use the information as a basis for understanding what makes the customer tick. I believe 95 percent of companies are failing to reap the benefits of mobile app technology which could enable them to create more accurate customer personas. Having this type of information helps predict future needs or likely purchases. This strategy is based on cyclographic data which is the concept of taking factual information and using it as a basis for reasoning, discussion or calculation.
New forms of technology, including machine-learning, allow companies to better understand customer preferences and predict future needs or interests. Understanding what a customer wants, based on their history, allows marketers to personalize content to fit the customer’s need and will assist when trying to secure customer loyalty.
In today’s economy, marketing executives often need to design campaigns that can reach a global audience. It’s important to remember that an idea or image that produces a positive response in North America might not generate the same feeling in Asia. More to the point, while English is spoken in many countries, it’s not fair to assume every customer using a mobile app can read and understand English.
For example, we worked closely with Paytm which is a mobile payment solutions company that offers comprehensive payment services for customers and merchants throughout India. Their mobile app wasn’t being adopted as quickly as hoped for and so we discussed the challenges they were facing. One of the issues we tackled was the fact that there are many languages spoken throughout India. For Paytm, the decision was made to support 11 languages. But the issue goes beyond simply being able to translate text into multiple languages. Different languages and different cultures view text and images differently. For instance, most people would write one thousand as 1,000, but in some cultures, it is written with a decimal point, 1.000. For layout, some languages are read right to left and others left to right.
In order to achieve success, we worked closely with Paytm to better understand the preferences and cultural issues to properly support the 11 different languages of their customers. As a result, Paytm increased adoption in tier 2 and tier 3 cities which constitutes 50 percent of the user base.
While it’s common for companies to gather feedback from customers through a variety of channels, how is the data used? Is it fed back into the product design team? Can the marketing team slice and dice the information to improve customer segmentation and help secure customer loyalty?
We worked with Athenahealth who had implemented a medical reference app that doctors were using to check interactions between drugs. The problem was that the doctors didn’t find the app very useful. Based on the feedback from the doctors, the app was redesigned to include sponsored and original personalized content. For example, if the doctor indicated that they were an optometrist, they would see articles and updates that would only be of interest to optometrists. Another feature focused on sharing pictures of medical conditions where the doctor could rate the image. The key idea? These features helped keep doctors engaged and asking questions or sharing information, not just sending information to the doctor.
While personalization technology generates headlines, the key for marketing executives is to understand that securing data is only part of the equation. Incorporating strategies like emotional engineering, creating personas based on machine-learning, tailoring solutions to meet specific customers’ needs and preferences, and wisely using customer data are all ways that marketers can help improve the customer experience which helps to secure customer loyalty and customer advocacy.