We’ve been talking about the changing face of customer engagement recently and now during these most challenging of times, consumer-facing brands are looking at their business models and seeking ways to innovate and respond.
‘The coronavirus is not only an
immense health crisis, it’s also an
imminent restructuring of the
global economic order.’
Our previous installment in this series covered the importance of personalized customer engagement and discussed the trend towards digital channels, which has largely been driven through the introduction of innovative new products or services and consumers’ growing demand for them. Take media streaming companies such as Amazon Prime and Netflix for example, which have fundamentally changed the way we consume entertainment. Where consumers would previously have visited brick and mortar offerings to consume videos and movies or wait for a favorite TV program to air, it is all now on demand and at our fingertips.
But, for the first time in history we have a market that is being driven by something we can’t (yet) control – a global pandemic. If necessity is the mother of invention, then this is the time of greatest need for consumer-facing businesses.
We also made the case in our last blog that the most successful global brands are moving toward a mobile-first approach that delivers 1:1 experiences. For a society that is too busy to slow down and expects everything on demand, mobile is the channel that best satisfies our need for instant gratification. The equation is quite simple; whatever makes shopping or access to the things we want and need simpler is what’s going to win the customer engagement stakes. Digital, and in particular mobile consumer engagement creates meaningful interactions that solidify brand loyalty.
“Mobile is the enabler of a connected marketing strategy, representing the marketer’s most intimate link to the customer… Consumers have gone from spending minutes a day to as much as five hours a day on their smartphones.”
And so, as brands now begin to navigate significant shifts in business operations, digital customer engagement strategies are more important than ever.
How is customer engagement changing?
One very obvious change is that face-to-face engagement is no longer possible and may not be for some time. And very likely, in-person engagement will look quite different as we emerge out the other side.
However, the fundamental principle of customer engagement has not changed, which in its simplest form is the emotional connection between a consumer and a brand. The more connected customers feel with your brand, the more loyal they become during each interaction and the more likely they are to purchase again.
In our last blog we talked about how consumers are more empowered and have more choices than ever before. And this is still the case, but it’s how brands can engage with consumers that is rapidly transforming. Where there may previously have been an over-reliance on brick and mortar engagements, digital is currently the leading option.
How are brands starting to respond?
While it’s still very early days, brands are rapidly looking to create online communities and accelerate digital engagement. One example is in the education sector where digital teaching platforms are enabling schools to continue educating pupils at scale.
e-Commerce is accelerating with contactless home delivery, mobile ordering and curb side pick-up. Consumers are rapidly adopting new ways to obtain goods they would traditionally have purchased in store such as alcohol and groceries, which means brands are quickly developing digital channels to facilitate this. And new demographics of digital shoppers are rapidly emerging, like Baby Boomers who were previously a low-use segment.
The key word here is “quickly”. Never has there been more of a push for brands to transform digitally than now. And while the post below makes light of an intensely serious situation, it is indeed correct in many cases.
What should brands be doing?
Even though there is huge impetus to transform what customer engagement looks like, it’s important that any changes must have critical thinking behind them. Regardless of the current state of the world, development of a customer engagement solution needs robustness of strategy, people and processes to underpin the chosen technology. You wouldn’t buy a car without first learning how to drive, and the same principle applies here. Development of a digital customer engagement strategy is the most important step in ensuring the technology you deploy is geared up for success.
Now, this isn’t always simple or easy, and often the question of “Where should we start?” is the one that takes the longest to answer. This is why it can be hugely beneficial to partner with an organization like Plexure, that does this every day.
How does technology fit?
There are many factors at play here and these differ from business to business. But the short answer is that digital customer engagement is impossible without the technology to deliver personalized interactions at scale. This isn’t new, but it is more relevant than ever before.
Mobile has become the most important channel for B2C brands. According to the globalwebindex 2020 Device Report, 72% of consumers globally say their mobile device is the most important device to access the internet, and for the 16-24 age bracket this increases to 80%. Aside from ensuring your workers and community are supported, getting a mobile-first engagement solution up and running should be your number one priority. With Plexure it can be done quickly and at scale.