Here’s the challenge. How do you keep your customer relationship going after they have left your shop?
You have a great relationship with your customer in-store – they love the decor, appreciate your glowing customer service and giggle at your disarming banter, and then they walk out of your door and essentially vanish. Whether or not they come back is entirely their choice, and there has been few options to influence it. Until now. With digital products we have a world of possibilities to build a better customer relationship, but digital products have their own flaws – namely how to bridge the gap between digital and physical. So how do we overcome this? Let’s look first at the more ‘traditional’ ways of trying to sustain customer relationship management.
Try and get them to follow you online
You might print your Facebook or Twitter handle on your receipts, your menus, your window, tattoo it on your face – just about anything you can to suggest that they follow you online. You might use paid advertising on those platforms in the hope that you are able to out-compete the hundreds of other companies vying for the 40 minutes the average person spends on Facebook per day. But then what? Facebook is dropping organic reach by the month, and as the amount of content on Twitter goes up each day, but the average time users spend on it doesn’t, the chances of your customers seeing your content is slimming day by day, unless you pay the networks. The stats to show actual customer visits generated by your activity on social networks are vague, where they exist at all.
Have a paper loyalty card
A solution which is over 200 years old – give your customers stamps or tokens of some sort to collect and then cash in for free goods or discounts. The paper stamp card is simple and well understood by customers, is cheap enough (if you don’t have a huge amount of customers) and generally does the job of getting people back in the door. But again it is flawed. Cards get lost, ripped, put through a washing machine or dumped in a drawer because there are too many clogging up customers’ wallets. Critically though they cannot offer any information on customer relationship history, at least not beyond the number of stamps on their current card. In the 21st Century, when big multinationals are offering sophisticated services to their customers, the paper stamp card isn’t fit for purpose any more.
Get them to sign up to your newsletter
Want to join our newsletter? Just jot down your email address illegibly on this piece of paper and don’t ask us anything about data protection laws. I jest, newsletters are a great way of keeping in contact with your customers (if done right) – email has a very high return on investment, and free services such as Mailchimp make it even easier. The problem lies in trackability – you can see how many people opened your email, how many clicked the link to your website and how many marked your message as spam claiming they never signed up even though they literally did it that morning. But how many came into your shop after reading your newsletter? Difficult to say.
Give them a flyer to bring them back in
Lots of bigger shops do this – give them a discount printed on their receipt or have a small flyer you can pop into their bag offering them 10% off their next purchase. This has quite good rates of getting them back in, but suffers a lot of the same problems as paper punch cards (lost, left in the bag, too little space in the wallet) and crucially, you are giving away unnecessary discounts – even to people who are going to come in anyway.
And so we come to apps
Apps. There’s literally billions of them downloaded. They can be pretty cheap to make, you can do cool, snazzy things with them. They’re great! The question is how do you get people to download them? 68% of the time people spend on their phones is at home, and 65% of the time they spend on their mobiles is spent on ‘me time’ – only 12% of the time is spent shopping. What’s more people use apps most when they are alone, bored, killing time and watching TV. App downloads peak in the evening and weekends, the most popular download time on Google’s Play store is 9pm on a Sunday night. All this points to one thing – people are much more likely to download an app when they are sitting at home, connected to wifi.
Why is this important? It means that the chances of someone downloading your app in your store is south of likely. One of the key challenges in this is friction – how easy is it for someone to sign up to the service you are offering? Think of how many steps are involved – get out phone, find app on store, download app (this might even need a connection to wifi depending on network availability), fill in account creation details. 4 steps as a minimum (more if wifi is needed, and account verification required before use). Each step adds an extra hurdle for the customer, and at each hurdle some customers fall off, deciding it’s too much hassle. The less people signing up to your app the less people you can carry on that customer relationship with after they leave your store.
So what’s the solution?
What do we have? We need something with which we can carry on the customer relationship after their visit. We need it to be simple. We need it to be as easy to join as possible. We need it to be digital and we need it to fit seamlessly into the physical experience.
This was the brief we had when we created Swipii. Customers don’t go to a coffee shop to download an app, they go to buy coffee. Joining Swipii had to take less time than the till transaction – about 15 seconds. A 1-step process cuts out the hurdles which see customers fall away; a customer scans a Swipii card at a countertop iPad and enters their email address. That’s it. They then walk out of the store with a Swipii card and the business has their email added to their customer database.
That’s where our job begins. Customers receive an email welcoming them to the store’s loyalty program and explaining all the benefits of Swipii. They then get encouraged to download the Swipii app during their ‘me time’ when they are more likely to download apps through Swipii’s online advertising and email marketing. Not everyone opts for the phone app, some don’t have smartphones, some have the wrong type of smartphone or software version and others simply don’t use apps. With Swipii there is the option to stick to using the physical card or key fob.
For users there is a flowing connection between their physical actions (scanning of a card or phone when they visit a store) and the information that appears for them online, in the form of their points and rewards displayed via the website or app and also the email deals they receive. For the business they get tools to manage and engage their customers much more effectively – and due to the low-friction signup process they have a much higher percentage of their total customer base using it, ultimately increasing the value and accuracy of the data they are gaining access to.
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