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Technology and innovation are critical to engaging today’s customers

By: capturecode | Mar 19, 2013

The International Customer Experience World (ICEW) event was held recently in Johannesburg, South Africa, and brands from across the world gathered at the conference to discuss one central issue that every business contends with: How do I keep customers engaged and coming back for future purchases?

The common answer is that technology and innovation play a pivotal role in enhancing engagement strategies. Businesses want to show their customers that they are meaningful parts of their operations and not simply cogs in a machine, and one of the best ways to do that is by interacting with them consistently on a personal level.

Putting engagement initiatives into action
For instance, Nokia is completely revising the way it communicates with subscribers. Instead of pushing impersonal broadcast messages across media channels, the company is taking the time to increase the number of individual conversations it has with customers. The goal is to entertain and reward them financially and emotionally for choosing Nokia over competitors.

Paramount to this effort is Nokia Rewards, a loyalty program initiated by the mobile phone company. Allana Barber, Nokia's consumer engagement manager, told attendees at ICEW that the initiative allows customers to earn points to download music from the Nokia music store as well as win free gear and phone accessories. The Nokia Rewards app has played a crucial role in connecting the phone manufacturer to customers.

U.K. mobile telecommunications provider O2 was also at the event, and similarly stressed the importance of customer engagement. Graham Webster, the director of customer experience at O2's parent company Telefonica Europe, highlighted a variety of initiatives that the organization recently put into place. One such effort saw the company roll out major changes to customer service centers, expanding from traditional call centers to all communication channels.

Additionally, Webster believes the company's loyalty scheme, called "Priority Moments," effectively encourages people to shop by providing discounted offerings based on the customer's geographic location. "High levels of loyalty and emotional engagement are the target, with the goal of forging a relationship of trust and forgiveness," Webster told ITWeb.

Breaching the noise
Modern consumers are being engaged through a variety of channels – social media, email, mobile phones, television, radio, print, direct mail, etc. They have become exceptionally adept at blocking out all this noise.

However, that doesn't mean it's impossible for companies to pierce through the white noise and engage in a meaningful relationship with customers. However, they do need to understand how to create a message that is relevant to their target audience, and the only way to do that is by knowing customers in the first place.

Companies should use technology to gather data about the buying habits of their customers and identify other patterns. This will enable them to create engagement programs and marketing messages that appeal to their target audience.

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