Mark Robeson, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing with VIPdesk, has over 18 years’ experience designing and managing bespoke B2B and B2B2C customer loyalty program enhancements for Fortune 500 clients, luxury brands, and other brand-conscious companies.
Over the course of his career Mark has managed outsourced product enhancements for some of the world’s top companies such as American Express, Visa, Inc., Discover Network, Bank of America, Barclaycard, The Leading Hotels of the World, Fidelity Investments, and Jaguar Cars, to name a few.
In a continuation of the Loyalty 360 Executive Insights Series, Mark Robeson shares his perspective on customer experience and engagement philosophies and best practices.
The “cauldron call” for today’s marketing strategist is engagement. How do you define engagement? What key step can best drive audience engagement today?
Robeson: Customer engagement occurs when the relationship between a brand and its customers has graduated beyond one that is simply transactional or purchase-based. When customers consider brands to be a part of their life as more than just a service provider, you have customer engagement. Engaged customers are those who are not only loyal to your brand, but also advocate for your brand. They want to continue to do business with you because they are compelled by the entire brand experience.
In our business, we believe there to be four core components required to positively engage customers: Time, Value, Service and Access.
- The first component is Time, which is very important because in our fast-paced world, time is something that is a luxury to many customers. Saving your customer time is key.
- Next is Value, specifically providing your customers with something that is a value for the price. This doesn’t mean that your service is the lowest priced, as different consumers value different things. It is your job to find out what your customers value and then provide it to them.
- Service is the third component of customer engagement. Many customers value high-quality customer service above other factors (including price).
- Finally, customers want Access to the people, places and things that resonate with them.
With the advent of social, mobile and other emerging technologies, how do brands effectively improve the customer experience and engage their audience in this challenging and very dynamic marketing environment?
Robeson: The loyalty marketers most successful at audience engagement via social and mobile channels realize first and foremost that social and mobile are two distinct things. Mobile communication tools and applications are a type of very popular technology that makes it easier for users to do things on-the-go, while social media channels allow users to keep in touch with their social networks. They overlap due to the large number of consumers using tools such as iPhones and iPads to communicate with their social networks, and the large number of social networks with a location-based component.
Brands must remember that “build it and they will come” is not guaranteed. Simply developing a social or mobile component to your existing loyalty program doesn’t guarantee success. It is necessary to provide a compelling reason for your customers to do so. Simply developing a mobile app that is a mobile version of your corporate website, for instance, isn’t enough. You must provide something of benefit that gives your customers a reason to use it regularly, which in turn makes your brand a part of their daily life.
Finally, it is necessary to give your customers a reason to continue to engage with your brand via social or mobile channels. Depending on your customer base, this could be anything from regularly engaging conversation to compelling dynamic content and perks they can’t find elsewhere, to an incentive of points, rewards or other recognition for their participation.
Six qualities that define engagement – value, efficiency, trust, consistency, relevance and control. Which term do you think the market finds the easiest to implement and what term does it find the most difficult?
Robeson: It is relatively easy to develop organizational efficiencies, ensure consistence and provide a product or service considered a good value. However it takes consistently providing value, relevance and solid service to gain the trust of your customers. Trust is easily the most difficult to both gain and maintain, because you can spend years gaining the trust of your customers and one misstep can break their trust in your brand.
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