Connecting_Data_People.jpgShep Hyken is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Hyken works with companies that want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.

UnboundID: How hard is it to connect data to customer engagement?

Hyken: The most important thing is to understand what data is most important for the company to use. We can have 1000 data points on customers but there may be only five that make a difference. Make it simple, but simple isn’t easy. Big data is useful only for looking at the trends. The next step is to take the microdata that allows you to enable a specific experience for the customer. Merge the trend with the specifics and you can create a customized experience that will hopefully get that customer to come back.

Remember the movie Minority Report ? Tom Cruise is walking through some sort of mall and all these stores are communicating with him. That future is not that far away. If I go into a store and someone asked me if I want to be on their mailing list, and I love the store, I will give them my information. Then, the next time I go to the store, I get a text message on my phone for a special promotion, and not only that, the promotion includes donating a portion of the sale to my favorite charity. This is starting to happen, and it’s really cool.

UnboundID: How do you avoid crossing the line into personalization that may be uncomfortable for customers?

Hyken: The company has to be very clear with the customer about what their experience is going to be up front. There is a big difference between promoting and stalking. Ask the customer if you can send them information to their phone when they walk through the store. Companies have a lot of data on us, and it’s a matter of whether they choose to use it. While luxury brands seem to be most successful in doing this, a small business can also do this very well. A company can develop a CRM program to tag customers with codes, and with inexpensive software. 

UnboundID: How do you stay relevant, when customer needs and marketplace innovations are changing so quickly?

Hyken: Start by asking, “Is what I have a true loyalty program?” Punching my repeat visit card is not it; that is a marketing program. I’m going to come back to your restaurant anyway. There’s got to be something more. As an example, Belly is a very inexpensive program that any business can use. It’s an app that you can customize to your audience. You can give rewards instantly and all the time. If the customer earns enough loyalty points, you could offer them something really cool. Ben & Jerry’s is a Belly customer and for a certain number of points, you can actually have an ice cream date with one of the founders.

Starbucks has a great loyalty program because it rewards you not only for your purchases but their program makes it easier to do business with them, such as by allowing you to load money on your smartphone. Think about Amazon Prime, which is a membership loyalty program. You spend $99 a year, so you are incentivized to spend with them. And you want to because they do such a great job of keeping your business. Creating true loyalty where there is an emotional connection is how to do it. What if when you check into a hotel that you have visited before, the hotel clerk asked you about your family. It’s not always just about giving someone a discount. The reward is the people-to-people experience.

UnboundID: Describe the “out-of-the-box” ideas for marketers to consider when personalizing information in their campaigns?

Hyken: I was recently talking to some C-suite executives on the topic of innovation and customer service. The example I gave is that, I love ice cream. People who make ice cream should know that I like ice cream because they are probably scouring the Internet for that key word and words that tie into it, and they will eventually find me and people like me. I post pictures of ice cream a lot. It is really obvious that I love ice cream. If you follow people like me on Facebook or Twitter, you will know that I only post photos on weekends, and generally in the summertime. If you market to me on Tuesday morning in the middle of the winter, that’s probably not a good time to reach me. You may even alienate me enough that I will unsubscribe to the communications. However, if you do get me into your store and your clerk has not been properly trained to help customers, it all falls apart. All that money you have spent on getting my attention is a waste. You need to have both, the digital component and human touch. Just be nice.

Download the eBook to learn what the experts say about meeting customer expectations in the digital era.