Anticipate the Want:
The ability to identify the customer wants before one even realizes it. That is the key point of creating an unmatched customer journey: not a straight road down the sales funnel, but rather a way of suiting personalized needs, creating the tailored wants, which must go close or even beyond the customers’ expectations.
Going back in history, we can discover that the very first iterations of loyalty programs surfaced back in the 17–18th centuries. Back then, different retailers started to issue copper tokens with which to pay off future purchases. Though metal tokens proved to be were expensive, and soon were replaced with stamps and coupons.
Nowadays, many huge brands utilize loyalty programs aimed for customer retention, including such as Amazon Prime, Starbucks Rewards, or Starwood Preferred Guest. The fundamental idea behind such programs has not changed much over time. However, this practice has evolved — now it includes mobile applications and maps. They all give companies the ability to track customer spending habits and generate data for future marketing campaigns.
Although loyalty programs became more common, they also started to be burdensome for customers and businesses. Clients tend to have a lot of applications simultaneously — even up to 4 or 5 at the same time.
Companies often send promotional offers that either become effective or are useless. Consider the example of an airline offering urgent low-cost flights at the end of September to fill seats in a quiet period for the carriers. This offer is useless for parents who cannot take their children from school until the next holiday season. Sure the airlines have a strategy to fill seats in low seasons but does this affect the LTV (Lifetime Value) of an important customer segment of families with children?
Such problems lead to low activity in loyalty programs, because customers cannot keep up with various plans and, therefore, cannot use their benefits and rewards. In this case, the company also cannot receive the full benefit of maximized LTV of a customer if the customer fails to evaluate the offered rewards and promotions. Besides, programs can be quite expensive for companies.
Modern personalized customer journeys are created to offer better customer experiences since everything you send them is relevant to their specific needs. For now, most companies believe that email personalization can improve marketing performance. Moreover, the positive effect of using artificial intelligence in e-mail marketing by companies last year states that revenue increased by 41 percent, and CTR was higher by 13.44 percent. The number of email users worldwide grows, and, being estimated at 3.8 billion users in 2018, this number could rise to 4.4 billion users in 2023.
Customer Journey Reshaped:
Recent statistics clearly shows the expected benefits from making by the customer experience journey as good as possible, as reported by decision makers with involvement in customer experience at organizations in the United Stated in 2018. During the survey, 61 percent of respondents cited cited increased revenue as an expected benefit.
Personalization nowadays is more than a trend or feature. It’s the key objective for survival in the current market condition of harsh increasing competitorship. The real examples of success lie in disrupting the existing market, offering something much more than others can.
Current leaders such as Amazon, Uber, and Netflix are the known for their superiority in different industries, but all these corporations have one very thing in common: they did not make any inventions or produce the unique product to the market. What they managed to do was creating services that go ahead of expectations. The common fact is that people do not know what they want until you show them. Advancing technologies help to perform transformation faster, offering more and more convenient and mobile solutions.
These brands reshaped people’s perception on how can every sector work, pushed ahead confidently and first despite the negative initial forecast. Moreover, with each advancement grow, expectations rise within not each industry but the very CRM are at large. Modern businesses success proves the point that the best approach to become #1 is having a foresight of customer expectations.
Not Number One Anymore?
Legacy corporations have been challenged in their market leadership due to being unable to engage quickly in personalized customer journey trends. With Amazon having 45% of e-commerce retail market share in 2019 (compared to 34% back in 2016) under their fingertips, Walmart, for example, has only 10% within the same online segment (though Walmart has made great strides of late).
To cope with existing competitors, older brands like McDonald’s started work on their CRM approach. Pretty much Like Walmart, with the introduction of a localized strategy, McDonald’s had shown that even the most successful, recognizable franchises cannot ignore evolutions in how customers perceive businesses.
Moreover, McDonald’s is a perfect example of the legacy business that has managed to integrate new technologies such as CRM and mobile (ordering app) into their business model successfully — company used software which provided improved data capture, real-time reporting, and fast issue resolution. For this case, a PowerCentre software program was provided by Astute Solutions — it handles data capture and information database which can be used to monitor and measure the customer relationship throughout the brand. With it, the relevant data is passed through the company quickly, providing key results. With direct access to restaurants by region, or even individual ones, McDonald’s can quickly spot potential customer relationship issues and resolve them before they become a significant problem.
Smaller existing brands need to do the same to survive and increase their presence in CRM to survive and thrive… Customers will benefit in such case: the more options and more companies are presented on the market, the better the customer experience gets at large, and the market is reduced in creating monopolies.
How can we get there? By establishing truly transparent and easy access to overall data through multiple channels. The big data segment is growing, so does the blockchain presence worldwide. The info from channels, kiosks, mobile apps, we have to inform and personalize the customer journey.
What’s the approach of solving day issues with blockchain? A few years ago, Deloitte consulting company published a report covering the blockchain project industry and many topics related to it. Among many points such things are discussed as how DLTs can solve many customer loyalty programs issues — for example, shared infrastructure can help reduce the administrative costs of these programs when they are launched. With customer data registered in the single blockchain, each brand can free itself from burden to waste time for centralized customer data collection and to focus fully on targeted marketing campaigns and promotions that benefit a particular customer segment.
Moreover, some major brands have already begun full-scale implementations of their blockchain-based reward programs. Back in 2018, American Express had upgraded its rewards program with Hyperledger, which allows creating personalized reward programs. Next decent example is Singapore Airlines which released a blockchain wallet for KrisFlyer airmail users that helps unlocking the value of KrisFlyer miles to enable everyday spending at retail partners.
Although there are already established brands in the fast food industry, such as Pizza Hut or McDonald’s, a huge number of individual operators is also present in the sector who usually do not have access to any complex technological rewards platform.
Individual corporate programs are not limited to those infrastructure benefits identified by Deloitte. That’s the primary reason blockchain startups had shifted their aim to he loyalty program market, and some managed to establish blockchain platforms designed for use by several companies from different sectors.
Just the Beginning:
Loyalty programs on blockchains benefit everyone. Though one can say, that loyalty programs have become a victim of their own success, creating difficulties and fragmented experiences for customers, although initially intended to bring value to them.
Blockchain can help to organize a unified infrastructure using a single user interface, and thus eliminate the headache of data management for loyalty programs.
The forthcoming years rise in different technology developments will create more opportunities for smaller brands to compete with major ones. A single united data control point and easy entry for decisions and interactions may result in efficient technological frameworks for pushing CRM and the ability to scale a frictionless customer experience as the company evolves. Only then can a company be in a position to deliver superior customer experiences.
In summary, we should always remember that as exciting as these developments are for emerging brand’s ability to compete with their larger rivals, growth and in particular the data collection process that comes with it can bring added scrutiny. A.J. Bosco is an attorney in New York City who specializes in privacy, blockchain and fintech issues, warns that governments around the world are increasing their regulation of private company’s collection and use of customer data. He advises that companies should have up-to-date privacy policies in place before releasing new loyalty apps that collect any personal information.