There’s a coherent argument that presently, we are in the middle of a seismic shift in terms of what brands are doing with their customer loyalty and engagement initiatives.

This shift has been accelerated by the worldwide pandemic, in the wake of which digital disruption is forcing brands to rethink how they connect and engage with customers.

The pandemic has not so much changed the landscape as taken existing trends and accelerated them significantly. More consumers are moving online, and in many ways their digital personas differ from those they had before. Additionally, they are accessing multiple new channels to engage with brands, and suddenly there’s a new world of “influencers” that play a huge role in driving consumer interest and brand advocacy.

The challenge for brands has been in the fragmentation of channels through which to communicate and this often leads to what we might call “disloyal” consumers who can now easily go online, either on their computer or personal device, and explore what other, competitor brands have to offer.

To address this, help is needed. CSPs need to re-determine the most effective ways to engage customers and build a trust that allows the consumer to feel safe in sharing their pertinent information and data with the brand.

The Democracy of Customer Loyalty

Today, it’s a lot harder for brands to hold onto their customers unless they’re savvy about the new digital opportunities. As a result, customer loyalty is changing and becoming much more democratic in the way that it’s more easily available. The fact that brands are now engaging online — as well as offline — means there are new opportunities for disruptors to come in. We’re in an age of disruption right now that’s both a challenge and an opportunity in redefining the service provider/customer relationship.

At Evolving Systems we’ve noted an increased focus and determination by clients to capitalize on their customers’ trust. Data intimacy, a battle which is yet to be won, can untap many different plays, from digital I.D. to optimized operations. It’s vital that a brand’s data is centralized and easily accessible so it can be used to make decisions around contextual marketing, relevancy, and engaging customers in the right way on the right channel.

One challenge in doing this is bringing all of the data into a place that it can be used, and another is orchestrating across all of the fragmented channels. Being able to talk to someone when they are on a bus or when they drive a car — or when they are in front of their television or laptop — each of these opportunities is a different touchpoint which requires a different set of decisions.

Gamification and Rich App Experiences

There’s a geographical challenge, too.  Running a program in the Asia Pacific region has different requirements than in the U.K. or the U.S. A lot of strategic decisions are influenced by Internet penetration and the ability for consumers to have rich app experiences.

At Evolving Systems, when we think about engaging with a customer in Malaysia, for example, we need to really think through the different customer journeys that are involved and the fact that customers will be using different devices, different screens, and at different times of the day. Those devices may have the capabilities to have a rich digital experience, and in some cases, they won’t. So if we’re just applying one-size-fits-all, there’s a real chance that the service provider misses out in terms of really addressing people in the right way.

Gamification has been extremely useful for telcos because they have been able to inject freshness into their programs, something which taps both “extrinsic and intrinsic motivations.”

The joy of competing, seeing yourself progress and the satisfaction of achieving something, or just the excitement of being surprised tends to be highly effective as a component of loyalty programs.  However, to make gamification work, it has to be built hand-in-hand with the customer journey.

You can take a customer journey and build it out for a particular kind of customer, but then you have to look at the opportunities where you might lose subscribers or where you might see a drop in the level of engagement. Loyaly programs need to build gamification mechanics into the customer journey where is there is a real need to keep things fresh and in so doing to keep the engagement levels high. Gamification is really a tool and an overlay that gets on top of the customer journey that you’re building, the customer experience that you’re designing, and it becomes very powerful if used in the right way.