The LP&I industry has lagged behind where customer engagement is concerned. With aggressive disrupters threatening to shake up the market, this needs to change. In this new blog series, we show what good customer engagement looks like in that crucial pre-purchase stage. And we explain how LP&I providers can protect their customer base by building market-leading customer engagement models.

In a fast-changing digital market, where loyalty is hard to gain and easy to lose, customer engagement matters more than ever before. Over the last 15 years, the retail industry has been the trailblazer for innovation in this space. In the process, the marketplace has been transformed, with customer expectations being propelled to dizzy new heights.

Tesco’s Clubcard, an early disruptor in the early 2000s, demonstrated how effective mining of customer data could be used to build loyal, strong customer relationships. More recently, companies like Uber, Netflix and Amazon have assumed the disruptor mantle.

As the latest pioneers in customer engagement, these born-digital brands are defined by some common core characteristics. They’re synonymous with convenience, simplicity and reliability. They provide app-based offerings as their primary engagement methods. They’re all heavily platform-based, with limited (if any) human interaction. And, interesting to note, they’re all ‘service providers’, not ‘product manufacturers’.

In this first blog of a three-part series, I’ll be looking at what sets the Uber’s and Netflix’s of the world apart in delivering market leading customer engagement during the initial pre-purchase, exploration phase. Subsequent blogs will examine how LP&I providers can learn from their example to bridge the customer engagement gap and start to build market-leading customer engagement models of their own.

We’ve identified three key qualities common to the customer engagement strategies of the three born-digital pioneers namechecked above. Briefly summarised, these are:

Quality 1: “Hey smarty-pants!”

It’s all about making simple, effective, smart apps for the end-customer. Think about Uber and Netflix. Their apps are polished, slick and smartly branded. Design is king, and minimalist layouts mean they’re simple to navigate. On Uber, for instance, after creating an account in a few simple steps, users get immediate access to a map of their local area with cars circling, ready for a ride. Just a few minutes after downloading the app, they become Uber users. Crucially too, these brands all have memories like elephants: customers only need to enter information once and it’ll be remembered forever (right down to what was in their Amazon shopping basket last time they visited the site).

Quality 2: “I’m not ready for commitment yet!”

While allowing for non-committal exploration, these apps all have clever, smart ways of drawing the customer in. The brands understand that customers don’t want to be overwhelmed with information that will quickly have them out of their depth. They recognise that a customer wants to be taken on an exploratory journey, slowly building their knowledge and understanding of the products and services on offer, without having to commit beyond, perhaps, giving an email address and password.  With Deliveroo, for example, users create an account and the most favoured restaurant brands are instantly a button’s press away. But there’s no pressure to order!

Quality 3: “It’s all about me!”

The personalised touch is key. Born-digital brands are smart with the information they’re given and recognise that loyalty has to be earned: they woo end-customers in by building personalised relationships. Take Amazon, for example. As soon as users browse an item, whether that’s a book choice for Kindle, a product in the online supermarket, or a movie on Prime, advanced analytics capabilities provide recommendations and their home-page is customised to their specific interests and needs. Brands like Amazon build deeper trust by providing real-time insights into personalised products and service recommendations through live customer ratings. It’s all designed to demonstrate the power of the consumer over the provider. Crucially, too, they know convenience is all important, and provide omni-channel access across all devices.

Particular customer segments are always taken into account. Born-digital brands recognise, for instance, that while Generation Snowflake wants everything app-based with minimal, if any, human interaction, older generations need the reassurance of someone to talk to if they need help navigating the journey. Take Ocado, for example: it offers a variety of engagement options through their shopping app.

All the above shows how born-digital brands have rewritten the rulebook for customer engagement. Next time, I’ll look at why LP&I providers are falling behind in their customer engagement during that crucial pre-purchase engagement journey…and the openings this creates for the disruptors coming into the marketplace. The message is clear: it’s time for action.

Thanks for reading.

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