Amy Hunt

Throughout 2017, brands across multiple industries excelled by embracing new technologies, designing unique offerings and delivering unforgettable customer experiences. Indeed, Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations. Proving once again, that if you want to sustain brand loyalty, you need to align your brand promise to delivering relevant and engaging experiences valued by your best customers.

Let’s take a look at some brands that offered extraordinary experiences throughout the year.

  • Restaurants are cooking it up in the kitchen - Domino’s: 2017 was a game-changing year for Domino’s. The pizza king introduced several experiential elements into the marketplace including: testing the ability to deliver pizzas using self-driving cars (a continued evolution from their cars with warming ovens), connecting their pizza tracker to other digital devices and offering customers insurance for their carryout orders to make sure they make it home safely. This is all topped off by the expanded ability for members in their Piece of the Pie Rewards program to now earn loyalty points, no matter how they order.
  • Retailers are creating a shopping experience like no other - Rebecca Minkoff: Luxury brand retailer Rebecca Minkoff introduced magic mirrors into their store experience. How does it work? Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are placed on all apparel items which notifies the smart fitting room of the selected items to be tried on by the consumer. Then, upon arrival in the dressing room, the mirror is informed of the items being tried on and can display the clothing item in a different color, size and also modify the lighting so the consumer can view how the item will look on them in the daytime versus the evening.
  • Hotels are making stays even better - Marriott: Marriott transformed its mobile app to dynamically support its guests throughout all stages of their journey. The enhanced digital features of the app customize travel content for each individual travelers’ preferences. The multi-national hotel chain stated, “Marriott is using mobile to introduce and revolutionize the next generation of customer service to travelers worldwide, delivering a far more personalized and anticipatory stay experience.” Additionally, they are working on improving the guest in-room experience by leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT). And, with their new Ambassador program, select members enjoy personalized concierge services to assist in both business and personal travel.
  • Entertainment venues are putting the capabilities of the IoT into full swing - Walt Disney World: Guests at the Walt Disney World Resort are given a MagicBand wristband, integrated with the My Disney Experience app, which facilitates planning activities such as dining, rides, attending parades and more. Disney can use the information and send its guests personalized messages like what rides they might skip if they are running behind, or, if they are heading toward a congested area, it suggests a better route to take. Customers can also tap the MagicBand to pay for food and souvenirs (no cash needed) and scanners detect the bands for authorization for rides, etc.

Foundational to any exceptional experience is ensuring that the product and service quality is intact and that value is delivered to the brand’s core customer group through the right people, process and technology. To deliver on this, the customer data needs to be analyzed, clearly defined and modeled to understand who is actually your best customer group. Additionally, analytics play an instrumental role. They help to identify the best opportunities for change, help ensure strategies are aligned to the brand value, guide the direction of creating and implementing relevant offers and messaging to your targeted audience and help to increase market share. As we progress through the digital marketing journey, technology needs to continue to further enable and evolve as the market changes and streamlined operational processes need to be in place to fully deliver on the enhanced capabilities (e.g. mobile pick up orders at Dunkin) to ensure the optimum experience.

A look into the future – what will be trending in 2018

As we look into 2018, we expect to see continued intersection across data, technology and strategy further driving desired experiences. The connections will drive change in the following areas:

  • Convenience and ease of access will continue to evolve
  • Technology will provide increased speed to information and a more connected consumer
  • Data will be captured on customer preferences and further analyzed to predict needs
  • Mobile will continue to play a key role with the execution of hyper-relevant personalized messages and experiences
  • The IoT strategies will continue to be adapted into marketing planning and programs

And all of this will enable a frictionless customer experience and provide operational ease due to quicker distribution of information. It’s an exciting time for marketers as the revolution in technology and automation is enabling the ability to purchase through multiple channels and gain an increased knowledge of customers. We look forward to embarking on the marketing journey in 2018 and beyond.

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