As more consumer data is available to brands than ever before, you might think that brands would be able to capitalize on this, and know their customers better than they know themselves, and in turn inspire increased brand loyalty. You'd be wrong, however.
Earlier, we looked at a new study from IBM and Econsultancy, which found that businesses think they know their customers pretty well, while consumers strongly disagree. Considering that consumers are the ones who get to make the call about whether or not to be loyal to a brand, that's probably the side you should be listening to.
"Researchers asked consumers if they had changed providers in the last 12 months," explains IBM. "The question focused on several service areas known to be inherently sticky, including banking, mobile, internet and satellite/cable. 49 percent of consumers said they changed service providers in the last 12 months with experience-related factors playing a prominent role."
30%, it found, switched because of provider failure, while 51% cited customer experience as the number one factor. 59% switched because the new company offered something better, with 42% referring to the actual products as the top factor, followed by experience at 29%.
"The customer is in control but this is not the threat many marketers perceive it to be. It's an opportunity to engage and serve the customer's needs like never before," said Deepak Advani, General Manager at IBM Commerce. "By increasing investments in marketing innovations, teams can examine consumers at unimaginable depths including specific behavior patterns from one channel to the next. With this level of insight brands can become of customer's trusted partner rather than an unwanted intrusion."
Loyalty360, the loyalty marketers' association, just shared some comments from Tom Santora, chief marketing officer at Omni Hotels & Resorts.
“Brand personalization has never been more vital than it is today to capture and maintain brand loyalty,” he told them. “Omni has been rooted in personalization/customization way before the days of Big Data. We are in the business of creating memorable experiences for our guests–and with that, personalization was a key driver of that for us. Ten or 15 years ago, this was done at the property level, through guest interactions, and some through follow-up email surveys, etc. Take for example, a bellman, who will ask guests what they’re up to today, and then ask them about it upon return–that is personalization.”
“Brands have access to more data about their customers than ever before,” he is quoted as saying. “Along with that comes the opportunity to personalize and therefore maximize the brand experience of our guests– both online and in-hotel–so that they will return and develop longer-term loyalty. Now we can help personalize a stay based on information collected from a variety of sources. A few off the top of my head at Omni include: Medallia scores, Trip Advisor feedback, social channel monitoring and responses, and a customizable program for Select Guest loyalty members.”
He went on to talk about a system the company has developed for its loyalty program in which members themselves build and customize their stays.
Last week, Bond Brand Loyalty released some findings from a survey, which found that a third of consumers agree they would not be loyal to a brand if it were not for a loyalty program. 70% of consumers were found to be a top contributor to brand loyalty, which ranked higher than factors like product and service availability, brand communications, and even overall price, according to the firm, which polled 10,000 consumers on loyalty initiatives across the retail, consumer packaged goods, financial services, entertainment, and dining industries.
"Brands with established loyalty programs now must make the shift to the future of loyalty and an experience-based model that is consistent with the overall brand," said Bond Brand Loyalty CEO Bob Macdonald. "It's more important than ever that companies focus on their best customers, and their data, to design a more personalized and authentic experience, which can help build stronger, more meaningful bonds with customers."
You can find that full report here.