Earlier this year on CAPRAplus we discussed ensuring that the wants and needs of the consumer are put first when developing any consumer engagement program by asking the question, “Do my consumers really want this?” This time around we will look inward to the merchant to ensure consumer engagement programs fit with the organization and the brand message. To accomplish this, we will address three key questions that help ensure an efficient and impactful program delivery.
1) “How will the program fit with my existing landscape of consumer engagement?”
Maintaining a cohesive brand presence as new programs are brought to market is a crucial aspect for ensuring success in consumer engagement. Introducing a new program, especially when it involves engaging a new channel such as mobile, only increases the stakes for brand presence as consumers will be performing unique interactions with the brand.
“…the next step is to decide how you will convey that message consistently across all your channels. You want to interact in a manner that builds the relationship. ‘Meaningful interaction is both the key and the conundrum for marketers. How do you create a relationship where you are talking with your customers versus talking at your customers?’ George Schlossnagle, president and chief executive officer of Message Systems”1
The marketing groups that manage those channels and programs have to be aligned on the messaging, content and offer sets. Additionally, if there are any purposeful differences, such as accepting methods of payment specific to a channel, the engagement messaging must be tailored to highlight those differences.
2) “What are the technology implications to my retail infrastructure?”
Once the consumer engagement program strategy has been identified and the alignment with existing programs/channels determined, the next step is to understand how the existing retail infrastructure will interact and support the new program. First and foremost is ensuring that the proposed feature set is functionally capable with the existing retail technologies. Advanced data usage, real-time API integrations and multiple external connections are not always supported by brick and mortar point of sale systems. The marketing, retail operations and IT teams will need to be closely aligned on which features are available day one, which features will need further development and which features will remain unsupported without a change to the technology suite.
Launching a new program, and especially a new channel, can introduce significant incremental network activity between site-level, cloud and corporate endpoints. For example, mobile payment systems interacting with petroleum and convenience point of sale systems often utilize a heartbeat that confirms connectivity every 45-60 seconds. Although each message is small, when a scale of hundreds or thousands of sites comes live, tens of thousands of new interactions are being introduced to the network environment.
3) “What impacts will consumer engagement programs have on my operations?”
New marketing initiatives and new interactions with consumers inevitably invite mistakes, confusion and questions. While troubleshooting is often viewed in a negative sense, it is really an opportunity to utilize a one on one interaction with a consumer to solve a problem and enhance loyalty. A recent example is how Comcast is utilizing Twitter. Consumers who put complaints about their service issues on Twitter are contacted by the @ComcastCares account who will work the problem with the consumer until it is resolved. The initial complaint may not have even been looking for a specific resolution, but Comcast is using that opportunity to create a better experience.
Ensuring that retail operations has the right programs in place to handle increased consumer issues is a crucial piece of the engagement puzzle. Call centers and consumer support personnel must have the right processes to actually solve problems and the interactions must be monitored to ensure proper communication. Based on a 2012 study performed by American Express, 58% of consumers are willing to spend more with companies that provide excellent customer service2. Using statistics such as these, we can see that consumers will often accept seeing an issue without abandoning the brand if the merchant can address the concern effectively.
It is easy to think that creating an engaging program will create a successful brand experience that grows the consumer base and adds revenue. However, it is often the initial and ongoing execution of that program, where the groundwork is laid, that most influences a customer’s continued engagement with the brand.
For further discussion, contact Boyd at [email protected].
- “The 5 Step Approach to Cross-Channel Customer Engagement”. Kissmetrics. https://blog.kissmetrics.com/cross-channel-customer-engagement. 2017 Kissmetrics, San Francisco.
- “2012 Global Customer Service Barometer. Findings in the United States.” American Express. http://about.americanexpress.com/news/docs/2012x/axp_2012gcsb_us.pdf. 2012 American Express.