Part 2: Becoming a Part of the Customer’s Life
Brian M. Landry, Diana Munoz, Serena Cheng
In part one of this series, we introduced a new engagement strategy to help retailers extend their reach into the lives of customers by seamlessly weaving relevant services and content into their everyday experiences. In exchange for a more valuable offering, customers will not only purchase, but also become loyal advocates of the retailer and brand. Here we explore the four steps retailers must take to design a lifestyle experience.
Step 1: Understand Your Customer’s Life
The customer’s life is comprised of a range of behaviors and activities that retailers can leverage as points for engagement. From inevitable events like growing up to proactive decisions such as changing careers, customer activities vary from the simple and routine occurrences like a morning run to occasional and momentous ones like having kids. In either case, the retailer has an opportunity to engage with the customer in these moments in a meaningful way. For example, a sports apparel company might want to keep track of their customer’s morning runs to better determine their future apparel needs. The key is to understand which customer behaviors and activities are relevant to the brand and to develop value-added services to support those.
Identify Relevant Services
To engage customers, retailers should provide services that unlock value for the customer in three focus areas: product discovery, social connections and time-based services. Product discovery tools should enable the customer to conveniently explore and experiment with new products. Retailers should help customers connect to a range of sources for advice (e.g., other customers, experts, enthusiasts, etc.). Time based services should track periodic and cyclical behaviors to forecast needs (e.g., track miles run with the same shoes to determine wear and tear) and enable easy acquisition of needed products. In all, services should support the customer’s activity in context while being unobtrusive.
Design Experiences that Support
With a relevant service selected, the retailer must then leverage technology and interaction design to enable the service within the context of a customer’s need. Customers are performing activities with your products, and the service should seamlessly integrate with them. To continue with our running example, retailers such as Nike have developed apps help customers keep track of runs and fitness goals. By providing this new support and integration, the retailer adds a new value proposition for the customers by proactively solving problems and enabling enhanced product experiences. This makes the brand stickier and encourages customer loyalty and advocacy.
Close the Loop
Finally, the retailer will benefit from a financial perspective when it enables the customer to instantly acquire a product that addresses a need, when that need arises. Once the retailer has identified an intent or opportunity to purchase, they can enable the customer to act upon the offering and purchase an item. For example, based on running patterns the app detects the user is a novice runner and provides instructions to determine the wear and tear of shoes and offers available options for new shoes when necessary. Not only does it provide added value but also makes it easier to measure conversion and ROI.
By taking a more proactive approach to engagement, the focus shifts from investing in campaigns to regain the customer’s attention to a sustained conversation between the customer and retailer. As a result, your brand will coexist with the customer and add value at any moment that is meaningful for the customer. The next wave will focus on enabling the decision process. Seamless interactions should evolve beyond connecting channels to connecting to lives of customers. In our final installment of this series, we will explore a detailed example of how this strategy can be applied in the fashion industry.