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Longing for Loyalty: How to really reward your customers

By Emma Bleet, Associate Director - Media, Digital.

There’s something incredible happening for brands today and it’s revolutionising customer loyalty for businesses that are bold enough to use it.

It is, of course, machine learning (ML). It’s a powerful resource that allows businesses to understand and use data to reward their customers. We’re talking about access to new business ideas and opportunities at lightning speeds, mining golden nuggets of information that will help you create nirvana-like customer experiences.

Here’s exactly how leading businesses are using ML to rev up their customer loyalty (and how you can too).

Why Machines Make Powerful Data-Diggers

The sum of it: ML uses algorithms to find patterns in data in real-time. It then analyses this data to create probable outcomes based on customer behaviour.

ML then uses this information to create more personalised customer experiences, whether that means attending to people’s needs more efficiently or giving them more reasons to be loyal to a brand. Because customers are as intolerant to irrelevant interactions as cats are to cucumbers.

By extracting high-quality data on a huge scale, brands can quickly gain insights that tell them exactly what customers want. And isn’t that the biggest reward we can offer?


Making Problems Painless

Travel marketers have already figured out how to use ML to provide jetsetters with a stress-free journey in the event of a disruption.

They use ML to gather customer data from boarding passes and other documentation. With this information, a personalised message can be sent to a traveller if there’s a flight cancellation or a gate change.

We’re talking real-time updates that offer solutions to a problem before the customer is even aware of said problem. And it also eliminates the time a customer would have spent searching for that information.

A simple action like this, executed on a large scale, creates a bespoke service: an experience customers will remember for all the right reasons.


A Satisfying Buyer Experience

Buyers are loyal to brands that offer relevant and satisfying promotions and recommendations. In their minds, it cuts down their search time and shows that you have exactly what they want (so why would they go anywhere else?).

Retailer Black Diamond has nailed this with the aptly named ‘Commerce Cloud Einstein’. It’s a super-smart machine that captures data from all customers, whether they’re known or anonymous.

It then formulates models of shopper activity in real-time and uses these models to predict a buyer’s most likely purchase. And voila, ML uses this information to create pitch-perfect recommendations that might appear to the consumer as pop-ups or under a ‘recommendations’ panel.


Loyalty Through Personalisation

Unsolicited personal recommendations are one thing. But to really gain fans, you need to reward loyal customers with a tailored service.

As a recent Zendesk study shows, “42% of B2C customers purchased more after a good customer service experience,” while “52% stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction.”

Offering quick and reliable interaction solutions is doable with customer service agents, of course. But after thirty or forty calls a day, can bespoke customer service be guaranteed without the assistance of ML?

Swedbank doesn’t think so. This Swedish retail bank has recently adopted ‘Nina’, a virtual personal assistant that helps solve customer problems and assist agents.

Say a customer lost their Swedbank credit card. They can go directly to the Swedbank virtual assistant where Nina will start a conversation that ends with either a solution or information an agency can use to provide a faster and cleaner service.

After just three months, Nina has managed to net 78% first-contact resolution. That’s a big percentage of customers who are experiencing seamless solutions to their banking problems. And Swedbank’s bounty is a superior reputation which, you guessed it, means greater customer loyalty.


Make the Changes a Customer Wants

One day, The Dorchester Collection looked at their seven-thousand guest reviews and thought, We’re sitting on gold.

But sifting through all those voices manually? Robots might have actually taken over the world by then.

So they used a machine called Metis, aka the ‘Greek goddess of wisdom’; named so because of its powerful ability to study a quagmire of digital data at rocket speeds.

Metris gave unique insights to The Dorchester Collection about how it can improve its services based on customer feedback. It illuminated that the hotel franchise was neglecting its breakfast service, for example. Fine dining was their priority, but every one-in-three reviews was about breakfast.

By expanding breakfast menus, creating new promotions, and personalising them for every location, The Dorchester Collection responded to its customers’ needs. This was just one of the many snippets of wisdom Metis shared that enabled the business to soar, and the company has since been nominated for many prestigious customer loyalty awards.


The Necessity of the ML Expert

Anyone can recognise the enormous power of ML when it comes to rewarding customers. However, with great power comes great responsibility.

Like an untrained lion tamer, if you don’t know how to manage ML properly, there will be consequences. Take Nina, for example. Its job is to personalise every customer interaction. To do this, it needs access to lots of information.

If ML digs too deep, customers could feel like their privacy has been invaded, and that’s a surefire way to lose loyalty.

At Response One, we have a team of expert Data Scientists who ensure that machine learning is operating at full speeds but not on auto-pilot. They are trained in leading marketing techniques, cutting-edge tools, and have a solid grounding in advanced maths and analytics. Crucially, it’s their deep understanding of customer behaviour that ensures ML executes actions with humanity.

Only with them can machine learning be used to bolster customer loyalty while keeping your brand’s values intact.


Greater Opportunity for Creativity

“Some people call this artificial intelligence, but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we'll augment our intelligence. —Ginni Rometty

Machine Learning isn’t just about mass-crunching quality data. It’s also about more time. It’s making repetitive tasks intelligently automated. It’s a door to new ideas and a window for more creativity that can enable us to create superior customer experiences.


Don’t Wait for the ‘Right Time’

What you’ve discovered here is that customer loyalty can be vastly built upon with ML.

And now is the time to think about using ML to help power the economic growth of your business. Put it at the back of your mind and lose a chance to gain a competitive edge, as the Harvard Business Review predicts:

“The most nimble and adaptable companies and executives will thrive. Organisations that can rapidly sense and respond to opportunities will seize the advantage in the AI-enabled landscape. So the successful strategy is to be willing to experiment and learn quickly.