Service, The new brand USP

Loyalty has changed beyond recognition

Excerpts from this article were published by The Times in their special edition Customer Experience and Loyalty and Artificial Intelligence for Business Raconteur reports.
It used to come in the shape of a plastic card, with benefits earned based on the brand’s recognition of their customer’s spend. But point-based, one dimensional and non-interactive loyalty schemes do not necessarily cut it today, particularly when it’s so easy for customers to find a better product at a better price, served better.
“A Brand That Earns My Loyalty Receives It”. To create loyalty, brands need to think smart and consider the added-value proposition that gives customers more reasons to keep shopping more regularly with them, thereby earning customer loyalty instead.
Brands are increasingly looking to define their role in a customer’s life, and service is becoming a meaningful way to do this.
Driving loyalty through service can mean so many different things to customers, from reliable convenience and fast delivery to trusted conversations, advice, edited choice and a one-to-one on going tailored experience. Technology is undoubtedly playing a big part in giving rise to innovative service propositions that truly offer customers benefit-led experiences they remember and tell others about. The success of service loyalty depends on the brand personality and experience of it, which will ultimately make or break a great service proposition.
Take Bonobos, the mens’ US fashion brand. They describe themselves as the ‘home of better-fitting menswear and an easier shopping experience’.

Bonobos calls out service as central to the purpose and key to driving loyalty. The entire service experience follows on from here: customers are called Guests – suggesting a shift in relationship, Service Ninjas imply that the brand will do anything for the customer and Guideshops demonstrate a tailored product and experience. The ‘Clienteling’ digital service tool recognises a customer’s lifetime value, their history and social profiles so colleagues are informed to reach out to customers with smart outfit suggestions. Bonobos understands the power of service loyalty so well that the brand-customer relationship transcends far beyond the 4 walls of the store into the in-home experience to keep customers interested and the conversation flowing.
To unlock the power of service loyalty, brands need to first define their authentic purpose. At Household we have developed an ‘Active Brand’ proposition tool that enables us to define what a brand stands for as well as its behaviour. The service proposition is never an after-thought to the brand definition as it ensures that the customer experience is meaningful at every touch point.
Anticipating customer need is the next step in building a lifetime relationship with customers. Predictive services through intelligent AI will represent the next phase of service loyalty, which is fast becoming a mixture of human and virtual interaction. Beauty brand Covergirl has created what it calls the world’s first influencer chatbot, KalaniBot, impersonating US teen reality star Kalani Hilliker. Customers prefer KalaniBot to the real thing and she has 14 times more conversations than the average social media post by the star. Designed to interact in a conversational way like the real person, Kalanibot learns about fans by asking them questions. Key to her popularity is that KalaniBot gets smarter with every fan interaction, offering beauty how-tos and tailored coupons boasting a 51% click-through rate.

In this age of now, serving customers with immediacy ensures their most pressing needs are met. Brands that deliver on their promise of convenience and service with style prove that they are built for the future from a customer-centric foundation. This new breed of brand loyalty is tech-enabled, and crucially, both service and experience centric. Every brand from luxury to high street, and from food to fashion is now in the convenience business, and will need to continually innovate to serve each customer better.

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