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Trust and understanding: Winning customer relationships

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The digital age has created a lifestyle only a few could have imagined even a decade ago. Just look at how the dating scene has changed. Starting a relationship is now as easy as downloading a dating app on your smartphone or opening a video chat to nurture and grow relationships. 

In my previous post, I talked about this evolution and what it means: Winning customer relationships means that brands have to show customers the love, or risk losing them. But how do you turn that love into something long-term and meaningful?

You need a strategy to find and connect with consumers to establish a relationship. You then grow that relationship by building trust and letting consumers know how special they are to you.

Where to find love

When people are searching for that ‘someone special,’ they don’t always know where to look.

Similarly, brands must identify all of the online channels where customers share information, spend time, and make purchases. If you have physical channels such as stores, call centers, and pop-ups, create a symbiotic experience that matches the online one.

Know who you want

Once you’ve find them, make sure you recognize and understand your customers. What are they interested in? What bugs them? What makes them tick? To do this, you need to track where your customers are online and offline and capture that data

Give them what they desire

Once you know where your customers spend time, you need to collect information to deepen your understanding of them. Now take that data and turn it into actionable initiatives and responses that are intuitive to your customer’s behavior.

That collected data will translate to all the ways a brand can understand and reward customers to build loyalty. What does this look like in practice? Let’s take a look at how a brand uses data collection to identify and bond with their customers.

Palladium Hotel Group: Bringing the party to customers

Palladium Hotel Group is an excellent example of how to turn customers into fans. The Spanish brand wanted to stand out from competitors by building a connection with customers, so it spent time getting to know them. They started by taking all their data and identifying not just who their customers are, but also what they need. 

At their Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel, they introduced wearable technology – a bracelet – that lets guests ditch their room key, purse or wallet. The bracelet enables purchases directly to a guest’s account and acts as a room key. It means they can soak up the sun by the pool and order cocktails without worrying.  Meanwhile, on social media, Palladium aligned the Ushuaïa brand with the interests of their clientele: music, fashion, and entertainment.

This all started with the data: collecting it, contextualizing it and then responding in real time. With it, Palladium identified what customers want and in turn, built a large community of fans. 

Beyond the fact that they have a vast online community, Palladium realized a 22% increase in email open rates. With their focus on real-time response to customers, they also deliver campaigns 55% more quickly.

How to nurture the love

Trust is the foundation of all relationships, including brands.

But they have to earn it.

If customers are willing to share personal information, they expect brands to protect and respect it. In return, customers want that data sharing to deliver rewards.

Trust and understanding with data

The research supports this: Brands win or lose customer trust based on how their personal information is handled. The SAP Hybris Consumer Insights Survey asked consumers what they expect from brands when handling personal information.

Protect customer data

The results showed that over two-thirds of consumers globally expect brands to protect their interests when using private data. The results in the US was even higher, with 72% of consumers.

And customers require brands to be clear about their intentions. Consumers see transparency with data as essential, with more than half globally expecting this from brands when sharing data with affiliated partners. That number went up in the US with over two-thirds of consumers surveyed expecting transparency, substantially higher compared to the global average response of 54%.

When getting to know customers, brands should first think about what information people are comfortable sharing, rather than what they want to know. The mindset should be customer-centric, delivering a service that rewards customers for their business.

Results from the Consumer Insights Survey demonstrate that people are most willing to share mobile numbers, emails, and shopping preferences. This data can be pooled and used to deliver loyalty campaigns and improved customer service across multiple channels.

ASICS: Love is like a marathon

For ASICS, trust is key to building closer relationships with customers. As a brand, they want to put the customer first by helping them achieve their personal goals: whether it’s completing a marathon, going to the gym more often, or improving run times.

Accomplishing this means developing a single repository for consumer information, aligned with a marketing execution and analytics platform. With it, they’re identifying and capturing customer information.

ASICS is developing meaningful ways to connect with customers online and nurturing fans. It’s about putting customer goals at the heart of sales and marketing initiatives. For example, a customer can visit a store and use ASICS’ Foot ID technology to measure their feet and running movement. The data is analyzed to provide a personalized product recommendation for the customer.

ASICS is also gathering information through their My ASICS app, designed to help running enthusiasts with their goals, progress, times and analysis. While the brand now better understands customers, customers are aligning their goals with ASICS, forging a deeper connection.

Data + Trust = Love

It’s a simple equation, but adding data and trust together helps brands find love with customers. Data collection is how you know who your customers are, their interests and where to find them. Then it’s time to deliver wonderful ways to win their loyalty, just like Palladium Hotel Group and ASICS. Palladium uses this to give customers an experience they won’t forget. ASICS helps customers achieve their personal goals and look forward. Both focus on a customer-centric strategy, driven by data. 

For brands to have the trust, love and loyalty from consumers they need to be ever-present, and ever-mindful of consumer expectations.

Times have changed. In order for consumers to seek out your brand, you have to show them you’re worth it.

Learn more about what consumers want from brands here

Bernard Chung
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May 31, 2018
Bernard Chung

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