The Challenge with Customer Engagement
In today’s retail landscape, there’s no courting the customer. The commitment of holding on to a buyer in a long-term relationship has been overshadowed by outdated sales tactics. Closing a sale should not be the last step. This outdated model is ripe for disruption with a new way of nurturing your customers' product experience at home.
Physical goods companies are in the market for some sort of digital transformation. The whole retail distribution channel has become stale and damaged over time. In today’s climate, it’s about retaining your customers, so they return the next time with a follow up purchase. If brands can provide advice, recommendations, and other meaningful product information over the lifetime of the product usage, they’ll be more apt to look to you in the future. You’ll secure a place in their wallets as a long term business ally.
It can’t be argued that digital experiences are here to stay. With customers staying home more than ever and making a purchase with a handful of keystrokes, retail marketers are scrambling to understand their options to retain their customer base. The solution may just reside with the product they’re bringing home.
All too often people lose the relationship with their customers after the sale. They get moved into a “transactional ticketing system” for support, where major emphasis is made on securing the sale, but not on the full post-purchase journey.
There’s an unmet need to offer a brand or retailer the opportunity to have a recurring relationship with their customer after the unboxing stage. There’s a true courtship up for grabs through an engagement platform that would support the full lifecycle of a product experience, including the maintenance and care for it.
Using the Product to Optimize Customer Experience
Imagine if the high value things in your home could talk. What would they tell you after you got home and settled in? Perhaps your guitar isn’t fond of its living space being too dry. Or your betta fish's water needs changing. There are important variables in understanding how customers are experiencing their product at home.
The convenience of having someone, or some AI technology, holding a customer’s hand to make sure they’re getting the best out of that product is an invaluable tool.
Taking real world data from the product doesn’t have to just be linked to some IoT sensor device relaying information in real time. It could also be triggering essential information linked to weather, or the time lapse of how long you’ve had it. This type of data generates useful information at each stage of its lifespan. Having a management system that handles the incoming support, ensures your follow up is on point when people need help enjoying their product.
The transactional information, that one notification you get (“Your guitar is dry”), can generate three types of actions offered to the customer:
- Educational link - A video, blog, text, or email to educate the customer how to better care for their product. (Article on How Dry Climates Affect Your Instrument)
- Alerts - These become important over time to make the customer aware of an impending issue (Ex: It’s almost October in New England. Your guitar is going to want to stay hydrated)
- Purchase recommendations - The educational link is offered with the right information. The alert came through at just the right time. Now day 3, 4, 5 here’s a recommendation to fix the issue with a direct to consumer channel. (Ex: Here’s a link to trusty humidifiers at our nearest location or shipped directly to your door.)
Constantly triggering educative alerts and purchasing recommendations based on the real-world data of your customer’s unique setting is a major component for brand trust and loyalty.
Why the Data Matters
The IoT revolution of ten years ago was very one dimensional. Consumers may not have trusted the technology of the past because it was never catered to them. They never received the aftercare tied to the progress of the product. Brands most likely wanted to bridge this divide with their customers, but the technology hadn’t quite lived up to the hype for them either.
For so long, big companies would employ consultants to find out what’s going on, but the answer is found with the product. It’s convincing organizations to make a mental shift, from hardware to software, uncovering the benefits of using this kind of technology. It hasn’t been a quick fix to get here, but now is the time to make it count.
Without ongoing business value for brands, cross sales and upselling opportunities can be hindered. Owning a dog is roughly a $25,000 investment for the owner over its lifetime. If the customer spends those dollars over twelve years in the big Ecommerce hubs, then you’ve lost the lifetime value in seeing your customer through to the end of their dog journey.
If brands had checked in with the dog owner from time to time to offer insights, food recommendations, or the latest relevant product launches, then with a click of a button you’ve circled your customer back through your doors from the comfort of their home.
Take Back the Relationship
Countless brands are using major third-party vendors or big box stores, like Amazon or Walmart, to increase their product’s reach and sales. The outcome is that aside from buying your product, you’re not provided with a link back to the customer who purchased from them. You never get the full story of their experience with your product. The solution? Propose an after-sale engagement to gain direct access with customers through a direct digital channel.
There’s nothing to fear with tarnishing your partnership with your big box retailers either. You can still preserve the relationship by having that direct channel with your customer because they’ll buy more from the big box retailer as well. Quid pro quo for the brand and the business.
Looking holistically at the lifecycle of the dog, guitar, or home device allows you to create a value-added channel. You’re able to cut out the work for that follow up sale. Your gross profit margin will increase. Probably more notably, you retain loyal customers, reducing churn and driving up the lifetime value of the relationship. They won’t turn to anyone else.
Just like a die-hard sports fan swoons over their team’s merchandise, consumers too crave a connection with the brands they use. The individuals who buy high expense physical goods have invested interest to take care of them. This is important to note because it shows that providing this real-world data is really a two-way street and not only beneficial to the brand.
Brands have the chance to create a valuable relationship with their customer around the one connection they share-- the product. When that’s established, customers feel taken care of, and so does their product.
A well-maintained product understanding leads to an improved customer experience and a relationship with the brand that may not currently exist. Once a product is sold, you have a new path available for customer interaction and product marketing. With these extra links in the distribution chain, customer retention rates will inevitably increase.
Brands ought to understand how customers are using their goods in their individualized space and tag along for the ride. It’s a new two direction relationship with promising ROI for all in an infinite loop of engagement.