2016 is fast approaching and this time of year presents us with a chance to reflect. How did your marketing and customer engagement efforts pan out this year? Are you keeping up with the changing customer landscape, or are you stuck in the past, doing things the way you always have? Here are 10 ways to tell if your current customer experience and engagement strategy is behind the times, so that you can make sure you’re starting the New Year with a fresh, current approach.
1) You’re unsure about what your customers really want
A customer engagement or loyalty strategy should aim to encourage customers to spend more, more often, and retain them. But to do this you need be giving customers what they want. If you think your strategy is misaligned to your customers, take some time to find out what they want. Knowing why customers love your brand, but also why they leave you means you can create a strategy to win new customers, build loyalty and retain existing customers to reduce your churn rate.
2) You’re not using insight to better understand and serve your customers
Technology is driving the convergence of the digital and physical worlds; all of which are a fantastic opportunity to start collecting more valuable customer engagement data across multiple touch points from social media, reviews, call listening to feedback surveys and wider consumer trends.
Data should provide you with the insight to understand customer patterns and behaviours. Whilst it’s easy to get swamped in a sea of big data and not know where to begin, make sure you’re only collecting data that is relevant and can be turned into actionable insight. Ask yourself ‘So what? What’s the data telling me?’ You can then not only anticipate needs but also surprise and delight customers by giving them what they want (or didn't even know they wanted). Showing customers you understand them is a major factor in growing loyalty and engagement with a brand.
3) You don’t know the ROI of your marketing spend
46% of surveyed customers admit to spending more due to a loyalty programme  and we have found for some partners that for every £1 invested they get £6 return. Are you able to demonstrate the effect your marketing efforts have on profitability and your customer base?
The beauty of taking a data driven marketing approach allows you to put numbers against engagement and better spend your budgets on the channels and campaigns that work. The ability to measure performance lets you demonstrate the ROI of every pound invested.
4) Personalisation isn’t on your agenda
Consumers are now switched on 24/7 and expect consistency and personalisation across all channels in real-time, so if you’re not offering a personalised, relevant, targeted and streamlined experience across all channels, chances are you won’t keep your customer for long.
5) Your business is operating in silos
Customer-centricity is vital to the modern business and yet many are still operating in silos - even within the marketing team. Aligning your marketing department around the channels, which they are responsible for (e.g. the digital team, the CRM team) is increasingly viewed as out-dated. It’s now time to invest in teams that focus on optimising the customers’ journey, interactions and experience across all of the different touch-points.
But it’s not just down to the ‘marketing team’; customer experience impacts on all areas of the business. From finance to customer services, it is crucial that a culture of customer-centricity is reinforced and maintained across the business to ensure that all staff is always focused on the customer. This isn’t a quick fix and might mean a huge organisational restructure; but it will ensure that you are an agile, customer-focused and forward-thinking business that can withstand the changing consumer landscape for years to come.
6) You don’t have a Chief Customer Experience Officer
Customer-centric businesses are 60% more profitable than those who don’t focus on the customer, according to research by Deloitte. Taking what we discussed above one step further, appointing a Chief Customer Experience Officer (CCEO) is essential to drive your business forward; someone who will take responsibility for customer experience and educate the whole business on its importance and benefits to your business as we touched on above.
A CCEO really knows what matters to your customers; and with this knowledge they can successfully sustain and drive your business’ future growth by ensuring that your customer experience and marketing budget is spent efficiently and effectively to deliver maximum ROI.
7) You think customer loyalty is dead
To some, loyalty is dead. That might be because there’s a new way to describe it – does ‘customer engagement’ sound familiar? Whilst the traditional loyalty mechanics of points and plastics cards may be giving way to softer benefits and other reward mechanisms, the concept of keeping customers loyal and engaged with brands is still very much alive. With more and more brands diversifying into new services and products, and the array of choices that this provides to customers, it can be even more of a challenge to keep customers loyal, but this is why it has never been more important to invest in loyalty and customer engagement. Here are three reasons why:
1) Loyal customers spend more over their ‘lifetime’ with your business.
2) They are the best advocates for your brand - your ‘Superfans’ will recommend you to their friends and families via Word of Mouth (not just verbally, but also through reviews and social media).
3) Loyal customers shop more often. There are 20% more transactions from members of a loyalty programme , which leads nicely on to the next point:
8) You don’t have a loyalty or customer engagement programme
Data driven marketing is the future; and loyalty programmes present the opportunities to collect this vital data about your customers that will feed into all business departments: from how your marketing budget is spent; to the products/services you offer; right through to merchandising or how your front-line staff communicate with customers.
You can track customer engagement patterns and behaviours with you across multiple touch-points, which then allows you to refine and target your marketing efforts; for example creating relevant content that makes your brand more ‘sticky’ to the customer.
Some of our partners’ loyalty programmes have up to an 80% penetration rate! Imagine being able to recognise and understand 80% of your customers and the impact this could have on all areas of your business?
9) You’re not delivering a consistent customer experience
Key to providing an omni-channel experience is offering the same service regardless of device; minimising customer effort and making processes and journeys more streamlined. Whether a customer is on your app, on-premise, or online; your brand should look, act, and feel the same.
Consumers want technology to enhance their path to purchase. So before you get too caught up in investing in the latest tech, think about where in the transactional process you have the best chance to influence purchasing in an easy and attractive way for your customer, whilst creating a seamless experience across all channels. Get your technology and communication balance right, and the complete process will work hard to increase profit.
10) You’re so high-tech that you’ve forgotten the basics
There’s no denying that technology presents exciting opportunities to connect with consumers and provide them with new and enhanced experiences including personalisation, and triggered & automated communications. Often brands forge ahead and invest in shiny new tech, but it has to be for the right reasons - poorly used technology could simply result in disengagement not only from communications, but from your brand altogether. Whilst you may have an all-singing, all-dancing app or in-store kiosk, customers will still welcome the opportunity to talk to a real person. Having that human touch can make proc
esses and transactions simpler, easier and more-user friendly, and is vital to maintaining happy customers and delivering an excellent customer experience.
In summary, to stay one step ahead you need to collect relevant data and apply customer insight across the business to better understand and serve your customers by putting customer loyalty and engagement at the forefront of your agenda. Invest in delivering relevant, personal communications to deliver an omni-channel customer experience. Get this right and watch your business grow.
 Source: Total Research Corp & Custom Marketing Corp
 Source: Forrester Research
About the Author:
Barry Smith is the Business Line Manager for Partners, Sales & Marketing of Ikano Insight. He has over 20 years experience specialising in data, insight and loyalty working with Experian, Transactis, GI Insight and now IKANO Insight. With an excellent understanding of multichannel marketing, marketing solutions and digital & direct marketing issues, Smith is skilled at enabling partners to improve their marketing effectiveness, expand their marketing universe, increase retention through loyalty & repeat purchase, reduce operational costs and monetise their digital channels.