Building customer loyalty

Sharing customer happiness with a photo booth

The rising popularity of Photo Booths is driven by a few different benefits. I enjoyed using one during a party at Story a few years ago, but now many retailers are using them on a daily basis. Let's break down the benefits so you can see if they apply to your business: IStock_000017373886XSmall

1) Better experience for your customer: If you sell clothing, gifts or souvenirs, people may enjoy sharing their purchase or purchase idea with friends. Of course, they could use their own camera BUT a booth may provide better lighting. Seeing the booth may remind them to share. 

2) Better exposure for your business: Photo booths can be configured to print your company logo and additional information that becomes advertising. 

3) Better interaction with your customers: Once they've shared an image publicly, you can support them with additional exposure, even reward them. 

4) Collect customer data: We can give our customers the option of paying a few bucks for the photo OR we can ask for their email address, etc. If we want to booth to be always free, we can invite them to order more prints by sharing contact information.

Photo booths now come in many types, including a station with an iPad and no booth at all. 

NY Times: Smile! Photo Booths Prove You're a Happy Customer, 2015-Oct-6 by Courtney Rubin

The photo booth, that fixture of one-off events like weddings and parties, is now taking up permanent residence at fashion and lifestyle brands, as companies like [Warby Parker,] Urban Decay and Topshop realize that some of the best advertising they can get are well-lighted branded photos of customers having a good time....

“People take better pictures of themselves than photographers, because you don’t have that same level of insecurity,” Mr. van S said. “It’s a very cost-effective way to do marketing, especially when this stuff is going out to social.”

The financial arrangements are complicated: Some booths are rentals; others are bought. Features and pricing vary widely....

For the health food company Juice Generation, which last month installed a booth in its financial district store in Manhattan, the photos are the basis for what the founder, Eric Helms, called “a kind of modern loyalty program.” Instead of offering cards that are stamped with each purchase, three Juice Generation employees who monitor the company’s social media invite people who post a lot of photos to come in on their birthdays with friends for free drinks and other surprises. 


IBM shows us how to be loyal to our prospects

It's pretty easy to have loyal relationships with our customers, but loyalty leaders like Hershey and IBM are loyal to their prospects, to the entire category they hope to win. It helps to have deep pockets, IStock_000019813515XSmallbut we have to start with a desire to benefit a category of people, and to be a little selfless about making it happen. 

Harvard Business Review: 6 Ways to Tell Stories with Data Throughout the Customer Lifecycle, 2015-Oct-2 by Alexandra Samuel

A smart strategy is to create data-driven content that’s a must-read for your target—like the content IBM has built from its series of surveys with C-level executives, including The Customer-Activated Enterprise. By surveying thousands of CEOs, CMOs and other top executives—and then gating the results – IBM created a data asset that all but guaranteed it would get contact information from thousands of executives worldwide.


Lead your customers to greater satisfaction with their own data

Privacy experts have been shocked to discover how easily we consumers part with our data in exchange for a few benefits. IStock_000021992634XSmallMy personal example is the app Waze. In exchange for constantly sharing all the information about where, when and why I drive, it tells me how to get around more easily in heavy urban traffic. It is SO worth it! (As long as no one ever wants to stalk me or frame me.)

The real challenge is making sure our customers see how much they can benefit from the information we collect. The guys at OKCupid have had a few stumbles, but overall, they want people to understand their own biases.... and I think everyone benefits. 

Harvard Business Review: 6 Ways to Tell Stories with Data Throughout the Customer Lifecycle, 2015-Oct-2 by Alexandra Samuel

...by telling your customers how to get more from your products and services, data-driven content can help you keep your customers. That’s a big part of the value of OkCupid’s long-running data blog, which has explored a wide range of topics by tapping into users’ dating profiles. While the company has attracted a lot of media attention—and generated a book!—with topics like racial bias in dating and the role of appearance in dating preferences, its posts have also offered concrete insights that can help users themselves optimize their dating experience. From the optimum number of characters for an on-site message (see the chart they published below, “Men Contacting Women”), to the best questions to ask on a first date, OkCupid’s data-driven insights help its users find love. The data your company uses to optimize its business performance may well offer insights to your customers, too; if you can find a way of sharing those insights, you make your customers’ experience better—and your product or services stickier.


Plan to collect data about your customers regularly

If we want a stable base of business, we have to be steadily moving toward our customers, giving them more of what they want. Unfortunately, our customers are changing constantly, even moving away from us. By constantly collecting data we can follow them, or replace them, if necessary.

A satisfaction survey is seldom enough, unless we use it to open a dialogue with our customers. Our best bet is to have a customer tracking plan in place. Sort out our best customers, then collect information about them and from them. Compare it to trends in transactions. Are we moving with the market or bucking the trends?  IStock_000019653085XSmall

Loyalty360: Hershey Company: Listen to Customers and They Will Guide You Toward Brand Loyalty, 2015-Oct-1, interview of Brian Kavanagh by Jim Tierney

“At Hershey, we have invested significant time synthesizing many different data sources to give us a full picture of what is going on with our brands, category, and the full retail environment,” he explained. “Whether that’s weather data to help us understand how burn bans in the Midwest impacted summer s’mores sales or synthesizing data to find clusters of stores that sell our York brand incredibly well for a targeted product launch. Be clear upfront about the actionable insights you are looking for and create a plan to implement them. Our entire organization has adopted a data-centric mindset, and that’s what it takes to be serious as an organization about using actionable insights. Marketing, supply chain, research & development, innovation, and sales all need to be speaking the same language.”

Hershey’s consumer philosophy is consumer-first. “Our customer or retailer philosophy is always category-first,” Kavanagh said. “We will always do right by our consumer and category. A high tide lifts all sails–this philosophy has proven out for more than 120 years and it’s a value we’ll hold true to.”               


Finding a loyalty perk that's perfect for your customers

Our customers don't expect us to fulfill their every need. IStock_000021588865XSmallHowever, they appreciate when we recognize their needs beyond our business. Starbucks has actually been bringing the news with the morning coffee for some time, but this new partnership has the most synergy. Complimentary products make the best partners. 

Loyalty360: Loyalty Lessons from Starbuck's New York Times Rewards, 2015-Aug-31

We sat down with Joe Pino, Director of Client Success at Clutch, who works with an array of leading brands to design and execute customer loyalty strategies to get his perspective on the Starbucks / New York Times loyalty partnership.

Q: What are overall thoughts on Starbucks delivering New York Times content as a loyalty perk?

JP: In a lot of ways this partnership makes a lot of sense; not because they’re two major brands, but also because of the synergy it delivers. Our team is always advising our clients to deliver relevant experiences to customers beyond mere discounts or specials.

The news and coffee go together like bacon and eggs. Given the general nature of a Starbucks loyalty member grabbing a coffee, often en route to work, it provides relevant value to deliver free access to the New York Times and gives the paper added exposure for upsell opportunities and Starbucks and additional value-add for their loyalty program. It also will presumably widely engage the mobile channel for consumers, which has been at the core of Starbuck‘s strategy.


Understanding Apple's iPhone Loyalty Strategy

Apple has innovated loyalty more than any other company. When I'm consulting, I tell my clients, "we have to interact with our customers." But that's not what Apple does. Apple allows you to avoid interacting with them or the carriers. Reliability and functionality create a user experience that allows you to buy and use with the minimal amount of support. IStock_000019813530XSmallNow that you can subscribe for an iPhone, pay every month, and get an upgrade once a year, these phones even more like vehicles. We'll pick a carrier like we pick a car dealer, with minimum commitment. 

Quartz: Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program, 2015-Sep-11 by Dan Frommer

...the iPhone has already transformed the mobile industry in many ways. That started at launch in 2007, when buying and owning an iPhone was immediately a different experience than any prior mobile device. Apple handled phone activation, media management, and software updates independently through iTunes, and made its built-in “visual voicemail” a feature of the phone app instead of a carrier service that could be sold separately as an add-on fee.

In 2006, carriers were pushing lousy, Windows-powered smartphones branded after themselves—the AT&T 8525 is just one forgettable example. Meanwhile, Apple didn’t even allow operators to put their logos on the back of the iPhone.


Don't reward Harris County Toll Road Authority, and others, for being disloyal.

So I really like the toll roads in Harris County. They make my life easier. I have driven through many of their toll booths and happily paid the toll.  IStock_000019396853XSmall

Now one of their toll booths is not reading my toll-paying sticker. I got a TxTag sticker because Harris County Toll Road Authority told me that I can drive their roads and pay with a TxTag sticker. Although I have paid tolls at dozens of HCTRA booths, it's now my responsibility to contact TxTag and make them prove to HCTRA I'm a good customer. Even thought I have no control over the relationship between HCTRA and TxTag. 

Uh, no. That's bad customer service. HCTRA can take one look at my record and see that, over many months, I've paid at many of their toll plazas but one. The time periods covered indicate the problem is with the toll booth, not the sticker. 

If I were NOT a customer loyalty expert, I would pay the $36 and/or avoid that toll booth. But that would reinforce to HCTRA that they are treating their customers well. But they aren't. And I have to stand up for myself and other customers. I will boycott HCTRA roads until they address their problem.