Why aren’t marketers using personalised video to improve the customer experience and generate engagement?

In Colin Shaw’s latest (insightful) post he provided a link to the following video:

If you watch the video you will see a profound change in behaviour by simply turning the mundane, take for granted, into an interactive / engaging experience.  What if I had used text to describe the events in the video?  Ask yourself would it have had the same impact?  Would your experience been the same?  Would your level of engagement been the same?  Would your level of comprehension been the same?  I know that for most people the video increases comprehension, engagement and delight.  That is certainly true for me; we forget that text is a relatively recent invention and reading/comprehension is a specialised skill that has to be learnt over a long time.

That got me wondering about marketing, communication, personalisation, engagement and the customer experience.  Is it possible for a commercial organisation to communicate information in a way that improves the customer experience and increases marketing effectiveness? Put differently, is there a way for us to make our communication stand out and better engage our customers?  I think there is: personalised video.  I can think of two particular instances where it is likely to be particularly useful.  First, communicating the complex and second marketing offers.

Communicating the complex through personalised video

Imagine that you are customer of a mobile telco and instead of getting the same old text based monthly bill, that you struggle to understand and mostly ignore you, you get the following video addressed to you personally:

What you be surprised even delighted?  Would you sit up and pay attention?  Do you think you are more likely to respond to the marketing offer embedded in this monthly bill?  I know that for me it is yes, yes and yes.  Talking about that I do wish that Sky would do something like this because each month I receive a bill and each month I struggle to make sense of it.  What is the likelihood that if the bill was explained in this way that there would be drop in the number of calls into the call centre asking questions about the bill?  How much could be saved by cutting out calls that the customer does not want to make and the business does not want to handle?

Do you have a pension policy?  Do you understand the yearly statements that you get?  I struggle to make sense of my statements even though I am financially literate (I am a Chartered Accountant and a member of the ICAEW) and sometimes I simply file them away meaning to look at them yet somehow don’t get around to it.  What if you received this yearly statement as a personalised video:

Making marketing offers come to life through personalised video

How about bringing your marketing offers to life?  Forgoing the text based direct mail that lands in the post box and is probably binned and replacing it with a personalised video to your email address?  Take a look at the following two videos and see what impact they make on you and might make on your customers:

Who is making personalised video a reality?

When I first came across this idea I jumped to the conclusion that it must be expensive.  Turns out that is not the case.  There is company in Israel called Idomoo that excels at personalised video and can do it for  a relatively small sum of money.  If you want to learn more about the mechanics and financials around personalised video then I suggest you contact Danny Kalish the CTO and Co-Founder.

Discloure:  I have no personal or financial connection with Danny Kalish or Idomoo.  One of the readers of this blog contacted me to make me aware of personalised video and then put me in touch with Idomoo so that I could learn what is possible and what Idomoo are doing.  I am happy to write about this because I can see the value in personalised video.

How to engage the female customer and deliver the right experience

This post follows on from the last post: If 80% of spend is driven by women then is it not time we had a better understanding of women?

Why should you read this post?  Society is incorporating more of the female values.  If that is not enough then it is worth remembering that women account for / drive 80% of purchases.  And you want to design marketing strategies and customer experiences that work.

What’s The Issue?

Marketing, customer service and customer experience are oriented towards the male ‘achievement impulse’ and male behaviours.  Which means that the female ‘utopian impulse’ and associated behaviours are simply not being addressed.  Let’s take a look at the following diagram:

To engage and build mutually beneficial relationships with female customers requires a different tack as shown in the following table:

Let’s take a look at each of these four codes in a little more detail to see if they suggest courses of action that you can take to better connect with your female customers.

The Altruism Code

The female speciality act is the ability and tendency to put oneself in another’s shoes effortlessly: women empathise on autopilot.  This means that women are motivated to act on another’s pain as they feel it.  It also means that women are open to doing what it takes to cultivate pleasure in others because they feel and can share in that pleasure.  Honesty and transparency matter because they allow women to relax; women pick up inconsistencies due to their ‘whole brain’ radar being to pick up all kinds of detail and nuances.

How can you work with this altruistic code and thus connect with women?  The simple answer is to stand for a purpose/cause beyond selling your product and making money.  Go beyond the functional benefits and stand for something that contributes to a better world for us all: lessen the pain, increase the pleasure.  The authors of Inside Her Pretty Little Head have identified seven ways that you can do this:

  • Position your brand as an ethical brand (my view is that you should just be ethical!)
  • Champion the consumer through your brand positioning
  • Win-win strategies – promotional activity that feeds back to the community
  • Invest in corporate social responsibility
  • Strong communication of altruistic values in your brand
  • Play against the category weaknesses

Lets just look at some examples:

The Body Shop is a memorable ethical brand – it was the first main brand that made a big thing of doing the right (ethical) things including the ‘no animal testing’ claim.

Apple is a great example of a brand that championed the consumer.  As the authors say “From the moment that the woman threw the hammer through the screen in the 1984 commercial, Apple hit it’s target and has stayed on the female radar……. Apple turned the status quo on its head, and offered people a break out of that gloomy vision and into a world of creativity, fun and freedom…”  That is still the case today.

Waitrose has a deeply held and practiced commitment to all stakeholders in the business.  That includes employees (generous benefits, profit sharing, having a say/being heard); suppliers (fair trade agreements); communities (giving back to the communities at store level) etc….

Persil’s ‘Dirt is good’ campaign / positioning is a great example of communicating altruistic values.  Through that positioning the brand is celebrating life and reassuring women rather than making them fearful and perhaps ashamed of themselves.

Orange used to be an example of a brand that did a great job of differentiating itself in a dull category.  It did so with choosing the Orange colour and the ‘future is bright’ positioning.  In recent years, Orange has lost its way – my personal perspective.

The Aesthetic Code

Women want to / are driven to make that world a more beautiful place: the way something looks matters – it makes a big difference to women.

The details matter.  Women can tell if something is not as it should be.  “Women’s minds are trained to notice the things that are out of place – the dirty mug left in reception, the months-old magazine in the waiting room, the speck of dust on the lapel…. they will read this to mean that something’s not right…….Conversely, women also appreciate that detail can make all the difference: it can indicate care taken, thought expended and trouble gone to..”

Women are judged by their appearance and so they have a much stronger incentive to notice the appearance of things.  As a result how things look (aesthetics) matter as much as what they do.

What is the implication for brands?  Ordinary products can be lifted out of the commodity heap of sameness and functionality and put into the limelight simply through great design – a focus on the aesthetics.  Here are two ways of doing this:

  • Selling an integrated aesthetic vision of life
  • Making the functional beautiful / pleasurable.

Gap has managed, at times, to pull off the trick of selling that integrated aesthetic vision of a colourful life through color.  “It was about buying into a world where everything was cheerful and everything was colourful.”

Apple and particularly the iMac is great example of making the functional beautiful and pleasurable.  PC’s used to be the example of a functional product totally oblivious to aesthetics.  Apple came along and totally changed that.  The success of Apple is the proof that functionality and utility is not enough.   It demonstrates the importance of form as well as function: beauty matters – it brings something into life.

Packaging matters to women and is an easy way to speak to the aesthetic code.

Aesthetics is not simply beauty, it is more.  “…everything needs to be in its rightful place, well ordered, consistent… and neat and tidy.”

The Ordering Code

I suppose you can call this the highly practical bit of the female orientation.  It is about the details of life that need to taken care of if life is to work.  Workability allows space for the altruistic and aesthetic codes to come to the foreground: it creates the space for generosity, for flair and fun. “It is not only about practicalities, it is also about helping women to navigate the ‘nice’ bits of organising and planning…”

Women have to grapple with two key issues here. First, they simply have a much broader range of responsibilities – they take responsibility for more and then have to juggle these responsibilities.  Second, women see the details and more more concerned with getting things right for all parties.  For example, when my wife is planning the holiday she takes a lot of time to make sure that it is well planned so that we will all enjoy it.  All the stuff that can get in the way is addressed so that there is nothing to worry about.  Women simply know that attention to detail is a necessity to arrive at Utopia; men cannot be bothered beyond the headline.

How can you, the brand, help women?  How can you deliver a better customer experience?  The first thing is simply to remove the obstacles that slow women down and make their lives harder.  Second, make sure that your internet presence is a strong one – that it speaks to women, helps them to easily do what they need to do.  “The internet is genuinely empowering for women.  It offers women access to lots of information hitherto denied to them…..”.  Think about women, like my sister, who are ‘burdened with young children’: the internet allows her to shop, talk with, get help on a broad range of tasks.  It takes some of the pressure of and it allows her to get more done – including in the half an hour here and there.  The internet allows women to only go offline (into the real world) when they really want to.

Women want great service.  They hold you, the brand, to the same standard they hold themselves to: be thoughtful and efficient.  “Women do not understand why or how you can deliver poor service and still feel good about yourself.  Putting good service at the epicentre of your operation will get you noticed and… talked about..”  The flipside is “…nothing will make a women madder…. in her disdain for your brand than poor service.

Being thoughtful and efficient is not enough.  Women find it frustrating to ask for help and be met with indifference or incompetence.  In Utopia everyone helps everyone else out proactively.  Women want/expect you, your people, to go the extra mile.   They look for and expect genuine communication – the human touch.  Yes, they do want you to save them time.  No, that does not mean that you should cut out the relating stuff: the human stuff.

The Connecting Code

This code is all about the female need to cultivate a strong network of mutually beneficial relationships; “women have a deep and profound survival instinct that requires them to make friends.”  Women strive to draw people together and find common ground.

What this means is that if you, the brand, want to cultivate relationships with women then you are pushing at an open door.  Your female customers are much more inclined to enter into a ‘learning relationship’ with you to use a Peppers & Rogers term. And they are ideal candidates for entering into / participating in communities of shared interest.  This means that you have opportunities in three areas:

  • Create and provide a network through which your female customers can get together;
  • Act as catalyst for generating community of shared interest; and
  • Provide fuel to feed a community or relationship.

Weight Watchers is a great example of a brand as a network.  “The weekly meetings deliver what all good female networks are there to do: they provide support, morale, fortitude, share experience, encouragement, information and strength that comes from knowing that you are not struggling alone.”  Apparently the same applies to the website.

Charities and book clubs (Richard and Judy, Oprah) are great example of acting as catalysts for generating a community of shared interest.

The point to note is that women enjoy and get a lot out of participating in communities of shared interest.  “Any brand responsible for generating that esprit de corps, and building that sense of common ground and shared objectives between women, will be amply rewarded with their participation, involvement and support.”

Conversation (talking, dialogue) is the core ingredient that binds successful female communities.  Women use conversation to build closeness.  Conversation is the fuel that gives life to relationships and the glue that holds them together.  “It is the primary means by which they get to the bottom of what someone is feeling, and the primary means by which they befriend others.”  Put bluntly women love to talk – it is natural for them.  And they love to share what they have learnt with their wide social circle and communities of interest.  They are the ideal brand ambassadors: sources of advocacy and word of mouth marketing. Yet they are not walking advertisements for any old brand.

Women can be exceptional customers – brand advocates and loyal.  The price?  Women are likely only to stand up for brands that have treated them well and/or done something thoughtful.  The opposite is also true: women can be the most vocal opponents of brands that fall foul of their four codes and standards.

Final Words

First, if you do not have a deep interest and affinity for people as human beings (rather than as objects) then you really should not be in marketing, sales, customer service or customer experience in the 21st century.

Second, it is much easier to ride the horse in the direction in which the horse is heading.

Third, I recommend that you read ‘Inside Her Pretty Little Head’ by Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts.

The 6 Elements of Customer Engagement

I have a favourite saying which I have stolen from Barry Oshrycustomers are surviving in a world of neglect. And this neglect is becoming more so , not less, despite all the talk of customer service, customer focus, customer experience and customer centricity.

So it is with interest that I read the latest report by Razorfish: Liminal.  The report identifies 6 Engagement Elements (Valued, Efficiency, Trust, Consistency, Relevance, Control) that matter to customers.  Now the interesting thing is that these needs are fundamentally human needs – they arise out of our existence as human beings in an increasingly complex and some would say ‘inhuman’ (artificial) world.

These 6 Engagement Elements can help jumpstart customer experience efforts as they set out the lens through which all business policies, practices and platforms can be viewed and redesigned.  Now onto my take on the 6 Engagement Elements:

1. Valued (you care about me, wow!)

What is the fundamental human need?  Are you surprised to read that it is feeling valued?  This is how one person put it: “It’s something as simple as calling a person, having them listen, and talking with them.  Just feeling as though they are out there, working on your behalf, that you situation has not been discarded, you are not just another passenger. It’s the personal touch that makes the difference. ”

Now I ask you how is it that companies that profess to be working on the customer experience are taking out exactly the elements that tend to make people feel valued?   Survey after survey shows that customers value caring helpful staff.  Yet, what are many organisations doing ?  They are reducing their investments in these staff – whether that is in the retail stores or the people on the end of the line in the contact centres.

Why are people (and the personal touch) being replace with technology?  During my weekly shopping I enjoy talking with the cashiers and I love the ones that smile and chat with me.  Yet, I now find that these cashiers are being replaced with self-service scanning tills.

2. Efficiency (save me time and effort)

What is one dimension of making customers valued?  Are you surprised to learn that it is a respect for the customers time and energy (physical and psychic) – promptly addressing his needs? Customer prefer to do business with companies that make it easy to do business: to get the job done easily, quickly and ideally without any thinking .

A great example of delivering on this need is the airlines.  They have put in place self-service tools that allows passengers to check in and print boarding cards at home.  And to use self-service check-in kiosks at the airport.

Banks are another great example.  By allowing customers to do many of their banking transaction over the web they have cut out the hassle of visiting the branch, waiting in the queue for 20 minutes or so to get served mainly because there are only two cashiers on duty despite the fact there are four cashier desks.

3. Trust (can I count on you?)

The need to feel secure in an uncertain world is a fundamental need – the people who have failed in this dimension do not tend to leave offspring.  So it is no surprise to hear customers say, “I need to believe that they’ll stand by what they are giving me.  If something goes wrong they will correct it.  I’ll take chances with trusting a company so long as I’m sure they are there for me to correct any problems.” Put differently, customers are more willing to walk the tightrope if they can see, feel, touch the safety net you have put below them.

What does this mean for companies?  It means that they cannot just rely on the established practice of big budget advertising to build familiarity and trust.  It means actually delivering the promise: putting in place policies, practices, processes, people and platforms that deliver what the customer expects and was promised.  Any gap between the advertising (the promise) and the delivery is soon broadcast to the whole world on the internet.

4. Consistency (no unpleasant surprises!)

If the world behaves consistently (even if we do not like the way it behaves) then we feel secure; we know what to expect and how to behave.  Inconsistency wakes us up from our slumber, it puts us on the edge because we have to figure out if danger is present.  And we do not like being disturbed from our slumber.

It is no different when it comes to customers and shopping.  Customers need to feel that the companies that they are doing business with are consistent.  Consistent in terms of the layout of the stores, the products, the staff, the attitude, product qaulity, the communication…….

5. Relevance (know me, offer me what I am interested in)

If you value me then you will only offer and engage me in stuff that I find interesting;  do not waste my time with the irrelevant. Notice, how relevance is also related to Efficiency (above):  relevance respects the customers need for Efficiency.  For example when a retailer offers personalised offers on products and services that they know are of interest to the customer.

6. Control

Razorfish write “..it is noteworthy that in “the consumer is in control” era, Control was the least important of the six Engagement Elements we identified.”  So how did they define control?  “Control is manifested when the customer can determine if, when and how a company will communicate with him or her.”  That may explain it.  Do you really need to control the communication received if you can delete it with a keystroke or put it in the bin without even opening the envelope.

Yet, the acting of inviting the customer to the conversation around control and allowing her to decide what she does and does not want to control delivers on the more fundamental needs of feeling Valued.  And it can build Trust.