April 17, 2019

3 Reasons Why “Loyalty” Is an Outdated Strategy (Focus on People Instead)

By Shayna Stewart

BONUS MATERIAL: Who's winning at customer-centric strategies? Discover the strategies of leading brands.

Loyalty: the holy grail of all company metrics.

This makes sense -- the more people who continue to purchase, the more profitable a brand is.

However, loyalty as a strategy is a self-serving strategy that removes people’s needs and desires from the equation altogether.

What brands should focus on is creating people-centric strategies that provide long term intrinsic value in order to generate loyalty.

When brands use the word loyalty, they are typically referring to one of two things:

  1. A points system offered to repeat customer that results in discounted prices
  2. A business goal that refers to keeping people coming back to make a purchase

These constructs of loyalty are now outdated and the progression away from “loyalty” as a strategy has been happening for sometime.

Those that are leaders in loyalty are aware that loyalty as a strategy is dead, but the construct of loyalty that a person may have to your brand is very real.

In this article, we dive deep into why loyalty as a strategy can hurt your business and does not actually promote loyalty from real people, and how you can get started on a people-centric strategy to reconnect with your customers.

Table of contents

  1. Why loyalty points erode loyalty
  2. Loyalty as a strategy focuses on the past, not the future
  3. Loyalty as a strategy is not a people-centric strategy
  4. How to get started on a people-centric strategy

1 / Loyalty points erode loyalty

Brands are competing on consumer experience as opposed to pricing.

Historically the way brands captured market share, and what most of us learned in our economics books, is to reduce the price of your product in order to trigger demand for your product.

What this traditional framework does not account for is delivering upon a superior consumer experience.

In fact, we are seeing that people are willing to spend even more money for the exact same product with brands that have a superior consumer experience, which is an extreme deviation from our 101 economics books.

If you think that offering people discounts will sway them to buy from you compared to a competitor that has a superior experience, you will be sorely mistaken.

Intuitively, the price of a product is not the first thing you think of when thinking of superior brands - because pricing is table stakes these days. People just expect fair pricing for the value that is being provided previous to the purchase, and post-purchase.

The reasons the winners are winning is not because of a cheaper price, but because they provide superior connected digital and in-store experiences throughout their customers’ journey.

This concept is not new:

B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore published the first inkling of this concept back in 1997!

Below is how they framed up creating superior experiences as opposed to competing based on price for making goods or delivering services.

Source: Harward Business Review

There’s a new breed of companies that have changed the way consumers interact with their category altogether, all of which build their products with consumers' needs in mind first and the business second. This category is not represented in the framework above.

Think Uber, Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, any mobile banking app.

These brands and technologies have revolutionized their respective markets so much that they have shifted consumer expectations, which captured market demand without pricing playing a role. In these cases, the pricing strategy in terms of point systems or discounts came after they have proven the intrinsic value from their product.

Telling people that your product is cheaper is not a good long term strategy. Discounting your price via rewards points or continuous sales will erode the consumers perspective of your brand:

You become the “cheap” brand.

2 / Loyalty as a strategy focuses on the past, not the future

Loyalty as a strategy does not promote proactive optimizations to the product.

If return visitors are on the rise, then what is there to change?

People’s expectations are constantly changing. A simple UI improvement in an unrelated industry could become the standard for all industries (think the Like button from Facebook, which single-handedly changed review ratings forever).

The brands who are doing it right, know that they are never safe and therefore should always improve their digital presence.

They spend a significant amount of money doing so too.

Jeff Bezos recently said “Amazon is not too big to fail”. This is coming from the CEO of the brand that spends the most money on research and development in the tech industry.

If you feel you are in a safe climate where your return visitors are increasing, know that your success will not stay for long without the continuous optimization from your product teams.

In case you are experiencing a decrease in return visitors, loyalty tactics that typically will benefit your product will actually counteract increasing return visitors.

Counteractive Loyalty Tactic #1: Double down on core users

This tactic is great, particularly for new to market products, but in the case you have been available to the market for a while, this is counteractive to your long term growth.

Focusing solely on optimizing the product to core users will emphasize features that were already showcasing value to a small group of users instead of understanding what value to showcase to capture a more expansive return audience.

Counteractive Loyalty Tactic #2: Increase conversion for new users

At surface level this makes sense, you are trying to provide value to a new user by ensuring they have access to the product or service you are trying to sell.

This tactic does not improve loyalty long term if your product or service is not showcasing the value.

Think of Netflix:

they increase new user conversion rate by offering a free one-month subscription. Imagine that their product doesn’t showcase the value of paying for it in the first month, they would see a complete drop off in return visitors past that month.

If your product is not showcasing value to the users, then a conversion isn’t valuable to the business in the first place. In addition, this is a highly gameable metric as it’s possible to increase the conversion rate by offering steep discounts.

Which actually promotes a degradation in the brand perception.

Counteractive Loyalty Tactic #3: Spend more on marketing

Reaching new audiences is always a goal, but if your return visitors are declining, this tactic won’t fix anything; it will just decrease your marketing efficiency.

This doesn’t fix the problem because it does not address the product enhancements that need to happen in order to create the stop gap.

Andrew Chen summarizes this nicely, saying that you have to be customer-friendly, platform-friendly and product-friendly before you start on a marketing strategy.

Otherwise, this tactic is just throwing money at the problem without addressing the problem head on.

If you find yourself optimizing your product when the trends are not going your way, you are optimizing from a losing spot in terms of customer expectations. This is what a loyalty-centric strategy will produce.

To get ahead of this you need to adopt a people-centric strategy:

A people-centric strategy will allow for your product pivot as soon as the market changes and if you're lucky, create the pivot in customer expectations.

3 / Loyalty as a strategy is not a people-centric strategy

The key is to not focus on “loyalty” per se but to focus on the intrinsic motivations of why someone would want to come back; In other words, adopt a people-centric strategy.

Intrinsic motivations describe an innate reason for a person to perform some action: they are doing something because it feels good to do it.

Think about studying hard for an exam.

Some people may do it just for the A, which is an extrinsic reward. But some people may do it because they are generally interested in learning about the topic.

The latter would be an example of an intrinsic motivation, where someone does something because they just want to, no reward needed.

Designing around intrinsic motivations is where brands must spend all of their time because, ultimately, that will lead to a person's’ long-term engagement aka loyalty.

Can you remember the last time that you told yourself or your friends that you are going to be loyal to a brand?

No, you can’t because people don’t think like that.

The way you think to yourself about why purchasing or using a brand again is usually about:

  • Was that easy for me to use?
  • Did the product do what it said it did?
  • Was I able to contact service reps easily?

If the consumer answers yes to these questions, then the brand is successfully answering to intrinsic motivations (note: none of which have to do with price).

Unlocking a great people-centric strategy means you are leaning into the custom intrinsic motivations of why people would love your product.

4 / How to get started on a people-centric strategy

If you find yourself in this losing battle of loyalty as a strategy, there’s still hope.

Adopting and acting on a people-centric approach will enable you to pivot their digital product as quickly as consumer expectations change.

Here’s what you have to do:

First, get the team together to hypothesize more broadly around what is motivating someone to seek this product out.

Secondly, you must think through what are all of the questions that someone may have when understanding if this product is right for them.

This will help ensure that all of the content is succinctly and accurately answering the questions that someone needs answers to prior to purchase.

Lastly, the brand must make sure that as the consumer is qualifying, purchasing and engaging post-purchase that each step is delivering upon exactly what the person wants to achieve.

If you frame up your strategy with this framework you can quickly identify areas that consumers are most interested in and understand why.

This is the difference in being proactive vs. reactive where you understand what behaviors predict repeat visits as opposed to just monitoring if repeat visits are up or down.

Start thinking in terms of how people think.

If you do that your strategies will supersede market expectations, which will get you your desired outcome in the end, which is a growing group of long-term customers.

Want to see the people-centric approach in action? Check out how brands using people-centric approaches created wins and losses in their industries.

April 9, 2019

6 Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Deliver Superior Customer Experience in 2019

WHITE PAPER FREE DOWNLOAD: How are the most prolific companies using AI to deliver a better customer experience?

Last year, PWC named AI as one of the eight essential technologies in business and 38% of businesses employed AI in its systems.

That percentage is expected to grow to 62% this year.

IDC estimates that the AI market will grow to be more than $47 billion by 2020, and Gartner predicts “more than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience.”

Let's see how customer experience and Artificial Intelligence are blending together to deliver superior customer needs and increase customer satisfaction in the years to come.

Table of contents

  1. Are we delivering empathetic customer experiences?
  2. The shifting battleground: CX
  3. AI and the zettabytes of data
  4. Six types of AI engines helping brands create empathetic CX
  5. The next steps for brands

Are we delivering empathetic customer experiences?

Ever lost or misplaced your phone? Or how about the time when your computer or hard drive crashed and there were key files and data you hadn’t transferred yet to the cloud?

Remember how distraught and helpless you felt?

Now imagine if the customer service person you come in contact with was an imperious know-it-all? Imagine how that experience would add to the mental and emotional strain you already felt. Imagine how you would perceive that brand moving forward? In moments like these, it’s true that you want someone to fix your problem, but more importantly, you want someone to listen and acknowledge your distress.

Apple understands this all too well. The company includes an empathy guide in its training manual for frontline workers providing customers with device support in Apple retail locations.

Source: How To Be a Genius: This Is Apple's Secret Employee Training Manual

The training manual teaches Genius Bar employees how to assess what the customer needs based on their body language, and even suggests phrases to use depending on the customer’s specific needs at the time, like “I can appreciate how you feel…” which is a suggested phrase listed in the manual.

Today, nailing the consumer experience means going above and beyond, taking the time to understand customers, and applying insights to every aspect of the business, from new product development to call center training to designing a comprehensive user experience. The only way that businesses can do this effectively is by having actual empathy for the customer experience.

Here, we define empathy as a brand’s ability to experience their own product or service from the point of view of their customer.

There is no current shortage of brands claiming to deliver empathetic customer experiences.

But have we as an industry actually delivered?

According to Bain & Co., 80 percent of companies say they deliver 'superior' customer service — however, only eight percent of people think these same companies deliver 'superior' customer service.

The shifting battleground: CX

These harsh realities have made customer experience the new battleground at the top of business agendas today.

But while budgets and platitudes may continue to focus on CX inside boardrooms, the speed of technological change and the ephemeral wants and needs of consumers make this a quickly moving target.

And it’s easy to miss.

Consider how we got here: the modern manufacturing age — roughly between 1900 and 1960 — was marked by few pools of capital able to fund and maintain factories. As a result, the marketplace saw little legitimate competition, and an oligarchy of industrialists owned much of the global supply chain.

Source: Forrester

Starting in 1960 there were transformative changes to the industry, highlighted by globalization, deregulation and free trade deals that made it possible to manufacture goods more cheaply in other parts of the world. Even though customer experience were still important, it was price and distribution that were the real decision-makers for customers.

Then, in the 1990s, information and technology became readily available and accessible to the average consumer. This Information Age brought with it a shift in power dynamics, from sellers to buyers as customers now had information to easily compare brands.

The customer experience became a part of a business’s product and service — part of research & development, content marketing, public relations, social media, mobile presence and usability, and website design.

Today’s connected life — there are 4.3 billion mobile phone users worldwidewill see mobile experiences as the key touchpoint for businesses. Modern consumers want a seamless and integrated digital customer experience that ties into various devices and screens.

Source: Accenture

That means everything in the customer experience, from targeting to messaging needs an empathetic approach. Accenture found out that 44 percent of customers are “frustrated when companies fail to deliver relevant, personalized shopping experiences”.

Consumers today are increasingly less forgiving after a bad experience:

According to a study by WOW Local Marketing, 52 percent are less likely to engage with a company after a bad mobile experience — that includes everything from poor design, missing content, and even slow loading times. In Right Now Technologies’ 2011 Customer Experience Impact report, nine out of every 10 customers said they would walk away after a poor customer experience to conduct business with a competitor instead.

But it’s not all dire news. Studies have shown that customers will pay more for a better experience. After all, how many of us have paid for a more expensive airline ticket because we prefer the experience we have with a particular airline? Study after study show that good customer experience will boost even your stock value:

CX is an opportunity.

Source: The Customer Experience ROI Study

Businesses that truly understand the demand for empathetic design in the customer experience know that they can’t do it with human help alone. There’s just no way for humans to deliver against these expectations. Forward-thinking companies are turning to machine learning and massive data to make better decisions on their customers’ behalf.

According to IDC’s 2016 Worldwide Semiannual Cognitive/Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide, the market for cognitive/AI solutions is expected to experience an annual growth rate of 55.1 percent between 2016 and 2020.

Using the powerful combination of AI and data means businesses have a better chance of giving customers exactly what they want — and even preemptively anticipate their needs before they’re even aware.

It’s this kind of empathy from brands that deepens trust and keeps customers coming back.

AI and the zettabytes of data

Think about how much data is produced everyday, from photos to videos to songs to text messages. The total amount of data in the world was 4.4 zettabytes in 2013 and that number is expected to rise to an astronomical 44 zettabytes by 2020.

To put this in perspective, one zettabyte is equivalent to 44 trillion gigabytes and to break that down even further, one gigabyte is enough data for the books needed to fill a

30-foot shelf. That’s a lot of collected data.

So how can companies make sense of all the information, especially considering most of it is unstructured?

They can’t. Not with human employees in real-time anyway.

In short, this means that brands that stand out during the customer journey have to turn to artificial intelligence to personalize experiences by identifying areas that are relevant to individual customers.

If empathy is all about understanding and being aware of and sensitive to the experience of another, then empathetic customer experiences should be focused on recognition and responsiveness.

Six types of AI engines helping brands create empathetic CX

Empathic thinking requires thinking the right systems in place so that you can proactively respond and resolve issues that come up at the speed of human expectation. While only a few brands employ empathic design well, the ones that do should serve as examples for the rest of the business world.

Below, we’ve listed six examples of AI engines that help brands transform the customer experience through empathetic designs.

WHITE PAPER FREE DOWNLOAD: How the most prolific companies in the world are using AI to deliver a better customer experience

1 / Recommendation engines

Recommendation engines are probably the most common form of machine learning and currently used largely in online retail and media industries and rely on algorithms based on the customer’s past behaviors and patterns. Like receiving a gift from a friend who really knows you. Brands implementing recommendation engines connect the massive data they collect to personalize every aspect of the customer experience.

Perhaps the most influential recommendation engine in the world today is YouTube’s Recommended Videos on their infamous right rail. Of the more than ONE BILLION hours of Youtube we consume, fully 70 percent of it comes from these algorithmic modules. That’s a lot of cat videos, man.

Source: YouTube's AI is the puppet master over most of what you watch

In the future, we could see recommendation engines more prevalent in industries with vast amount of data like healthcare, where AI can help personalize care by taking into account patient history, lifestyle information, medical records, and more. Algorithmically recommended treatment courses, or specific prescriptions are not out of the question.

2 / Predictive Searches

Predictive Searches allow web visitors to get results faster by automatically populating results while the user is still typing. Typically, there is a drop-down list that pops up during the search, which guides users to potential results. When thinking of predictive searches, most of us think of Google’ Autocomplete invented in 2004. Then, in 2010, Google’s search technology expanded to include Instant Search, which uses machine-learning to predict what it thinks you will type, simultaneously streaming results for those predictions in real-time.

Many brands have since adopted Google’s original technology, but there are some drawbacks. In 2017, Google announced that it would drop instant search as its default setting given most searches are now done on mobile, and loading results for predictive searches on a limited screen ends up being a poor user experience.

A Google spokesperson said at the time:

“We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices. Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices.”

Even after developing an empathetic design — Instant Search — Google continues to find ways to be even more empathetic by thinking about how the product can be fast and fluid on all devices, for all users!

3 / Virtual Assistants

Virtual Assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, and  Google Assistant, range from chatbots to more advanced systems that are changing what customer engagement looks like.

  • Google Duplex is a new capability of Google Assistant that can make calls on your behalf and book your next hair salon appointment or table at your favorite restaurant for you. And the person on the other side of the phone won’t even notice she’s talking with a bot.

Source: Google Duplex: An AI System for Accomplishing Real-World Tasks Over the Phone

Virtual assistants are definitely a growing niche, so why have only 10 percent of enterprises in the U.S. employed a virtual agent? Mainly because there are still a lot of challenges that can interfere with the digital customer experience. For instance, while virtual assistants are improving greatly with natural language, most of them are still far behind humans when it comes to understanding slang, typos, misspellings, or complex grammar.

4 / Natural language processing

Natural language processing is AI that can process massive amounts of natural language data and can therefore, understand human speech the way it is spoken. When thinking of NLP, an Amazon Echo often comes to mind with its voice recognition, but NLP’s technology holds promise in a lot of industries, including healthcare where it can help with faster diagnosis by finding patterns in a physician’s unstructured notes. Think of how many lives can be saved with AI mining our health records!

Think about Skype Translator, that can understand several languages at the same time, in real-time, which can encourage conversations between people who speak different languages.

5 / Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment Analysis evaluates voice inflections to determine the emotions, attitudes, and opinion in normal human conversation to determine what’s actually being said.

Vibe is a product created by Tokyo-based software company AIR that can scan conversations on workplace communication tool Slack to determine team morale. The product analyzes keywords and emojis used during conversations and places the team’s mood into five emotions

At YML, we used sentiment analysis to understand which company is loved the most: Uber or Lyft?

Source: Uber vs Lyft – Who is loved more? A deep dive analysis using Google’s Sentiment Analysis API

6 / Computer vision

Computer vision uses machine learning models to teach computers to see things the way humans see them.

A company doing a great job is Uru, that uses computer-vision to find spaces in videos where native advertisements can appear to create a non-obtrusive, uninterrupted, more organic experience for users.

For instance, the company’s algorithm identifies spaces, like a blank wall or the board of a snowboarder, where ads or brands graphics can appear. The startup has caught the attention of the industry’s top accelerators and investors.

The next steps for brands

The rise of the internet has provided us with various ways to communicate and interact. Even brands now communicate with their consumers through multiple platforms and channels, so it makes sense that customers expect you to “get” them.

After all, customers know brands are tracking, personalizing, and optimizing every step along the customer journey, so why shouldn’t they be more empathetic to CX? With so much competition out there, the only way a brand can have a competitive advantage is by maintaining an obsession with customer experience.

Once a brand has determined that they want to create empathetic experiences, they need to then do two things: (1) focus on results, and (2) focus on small wins.

When focusing on results, brands should identify the tasks they want to tackle first, then determine the optimal technology to help them accomplish those tasks.

This can get a little tricky with various AI technologies competing in the market, from machine learning, chatbots, virtual assistants, robotics, natural language processing (NLP), and much more: in order to achieve business goals, businesses need to think about the big picture, then work backward.

For instance, if your customers want 24/7 support, then it might be worth it to invest in a chatbot experience so customers aren’t waiting to get through to a human employee. Or if customer satisfaction seems to be an issue, consider a technology that can take the data you already have and connect them with what customers may need, based on their individual preferences. Customer satisfaction will surely improve if businesses present relevant recommendations rather than spewing out random offers.

Finally, brands need to focus on small wins if they want a chance at any of the big wins.

How do you know which small win you’d like to tackle first? Identify the low-hanging fruit. What complaints are you getting the most from customers? Tackle that area first.

As soon as you’ve identified the problem, it might be tempting to use AI to solve dozens of issues right away. This is not the best way to start improving customer retention quickly. Instead, if you want to make the most impact, you’ll want to tackle what’s easy to measure and achievable first.

In other words, think big, start small. What small wins can you achieve in the next few weeks or months?

AND NOW LEARN MORE: How are the most prolific companies using AI to deliver a better customer experience?

March 20, 2019

Is it time to break up the technopoly?

An analysis of the Democrats’ argument to break up tech.

By Stephen Clements

Have you ever heard of Wrapp, Giftly, Giftivo, Giftdish, Gifthit, GiftSimple, GiftDrop, DropGifts, YouGift, Ziftit, Let's Gift It…?

Probably not, which isn’t surprising.

They are just a handful of startups that were trounced when Facebook reintroduced gifting on the platform in 2017. I imagine this happens a lot—a tech giant launches a new feature and a slew of energetic and dynamic startups go up in smoke.

Talk about a tenuous existence.

No doubt it makes investing in a technology company very risky, and starting one even riskier. Sure, this has been going on since the dawn of business—the big eats the small—it’s a dog eat dog world, and Facebook has the biggest teeth.

So it was with some interest that I tuned into Elizabeth Warren’s talk at SXSW, during which she ripped into big tech and threatened to disrupt the disruptors by breaking them into smaller parts.

No doubt the cynic in me thinks this is just populist posturing from the 2020 hopeful.

Senator Warren picked SXSW to take her stand against big tech, because—as we all know—it’s hotbed of entrepreneurialism. It’s a who’s who of tech, and for 1 week the halls, bars, and BBQ joints of Austin are walked by any startup founder or tech-investor looking to rub shoulders with the world’s technorati, to get inspired, network, and maybe (just maybe) get funding.

And so the message was wildly cheered by her audience as she built her case to break up the G-MAFIA (Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM, and Amazon).

Her logic is that by limiting the power of these tech giants, it will give smaller companies room to breathe, help them innovate more freely, and boost the economy.

Sounds lovely.

And it’s not just a ray of hope for the startup community, it could also be a gift for big brands that aren’t so technologically endowed.

For example, I have lost count of the many meetings I have had with clients from all kinds of verticals—banking, insurance, automotive, etc.—all fretting the question “what happens when Amazon starts selling insurance/banking/cars/…?

For me, this is the exciting part.

As the big tech elites control the future of AI, and they are busy shoring up their digital advantage, the oxygen of innovation is being squeezed out of startups and big businesses alike. It will be an effed up world when you get your insurance, banking, healthcare and gym membership, all from the same provider.

What Senator Warren is proposing might scare the big tech giants—obviously.

They haven’t felt much in the way of regulation for so long, and so now, as legislation starts to catch up with their mercurial rise, the pigeons are maybe coming home to roost.

It’s an agreeable message for an audience of technological progressives at SXSW, but on the flip side, Democrats rely on big tech as their piggy bank for political donations, so we’ll see if they are really willing to do anything should they win the 2020 election.

It’s a debate worth having, for sure, but the cynic in me doesn’t expect much will actually come from it.

June 16, 2018

YML + State Farm at Forrester CX NYC 2018

Congrats to our clients at State Farm on earning the top spot in Forrester’s Auto Insurance Wave US Mobile Q2 2018!

Join us todayWednesday, June 20th, at 2:25 PM in Sutton North (2nd Floor) for a fireside chat with State Farm’s SVP of Digital and Customer Experience to hear how we leveraged the most emotional part of our customers journey to create a world-beating experience.

About Forrester's CX NYC 2018:

The most successful brands have learned to deploy deep customer understanding to deliver compelling, engaging, experiences in the moment. The next generation of CX innovators, however, are using the insights derived from deep customer understanding to discover completely new business opportunities, expand customer relationships into new verticals, and explosively grow revenues. This radical innovation can only be pursued by enterprises that are driven by CX, not merely informed or improved by it.

Forrester’s 2018 CXNYC Forum leverages the most recent research to help CX pros expand their existing CX strategy — from the delivery of exceptional customer experiences towards the new opportunities that CX leadership can deliver.

June 8, 2018

5 Uses for Virtual Reality That Will Engage Consumers

Virtual reality technology isn’t science fiction anymore. According to some reports, the global VR market will be worth $26.89 billion by 2022.

That means now is the best time start looking for more uses of virtual reality that help you better serve your own customers. By planning now, you can develop virtual reality applications that impact consumers in genuinely valuable and meaningful ways, instead of treating the technology like a gimmick or novelty.

The following are examples of businesses that have already taken advantage of the wide potential of virtual reality uses in ways that boost revenue and offer customers truly unique experiences. They’ll inspire you to come up with your own plans.

1. Using Virtual Reality to Generate Hype for New Products

When brands promote new products, they want to ensure customers experience them in a dynamic and vivid way. The more “real” a product appears in advertisements, the more attractive it will be to a shopper.

Volvo has leveraged the experiential marketing uses of virtual reality tech to this effect. The popular automotive brand launched a marketing campaign in which customers could “test drive” a new vehicle in a virtual environment. This approach to promoting a new car is just one example of virtual reality uses that help consumers get a better sense of what it would be like to actually drive the vehicle.

2. Motivating Customers to Buy Your Items

Many uses of virtual reality can indirectly encourage shoppers to buy your products. For example, The North Face allowed customers to escape to various outdoor locations throughout the globe by exploring virtual reality headset uses. The locations featured in the experience just happened to be the kinds of places where The North Face’s products would be useful.

The VR experience itself corresponded to the retailer’s branded identity and offered customers an opportunity to connect emotionally with the company. It may have also inspired them to buy The North Face products and take actual excursions to the locations featured in the virtual simulation.

uses of virtual reality

3. Appealing to Emotions

Companies that proactively work to address social issues can leverage the wide array of virtual reality headset uses to express their messages in more emotional ways. TOMS Shoes is one example of a brand exploring these types of advantages by partnering with a virtual reality applications company.

The retailer famously donates a pair of shoes to a child in need every time a customer buys a pair. With the help of  the many uses of virtual reality, TOMS Shoes allowed customers to “experience” giving the donated pair to a child. This simulation makes the emotional impact of the company’s donations resonate more effectively with a shopper.

4. Improving the eCommerce Experience

Appealing to emotions and offering dynamic experiences isn’t the only way companies can better serve customers with VR. For example, Walmart plans to enhance the online shopping experience by allowing customers to “try” virtual items before they buy them with an excellent example of virtual reality headset uses.

This makes it easier to, for instance, determine if an item of clothing will look good when actually worn in the real world. As the technology improves, there may come a day when virtuality reality uses expand to the point of turning a person’s surroundings into a virtual, interactive store. This will then make online shopping much more similar to visiting a brick-and-mortar shop, which will enhance customer satisfaction and trust.

5. Immersing Customers in Stories Using a Virtual Reality Headset

Storytelling is often key to effective marketing. In that respect, the uses of virtual reality include applications that are extremely useful. The New York Times has already rewarded loyal customers with VR headsets, through which they can immerse themselves in a virtual story about refugee children. The benefits that virtual reality headset uses offers journalism can easily translate to marketing campaigns for other brands.

These cases represent merely the tip of the iceberg. Your company can also take advantage of VR in unique, interesting, and truly valuable ways.

For the best results, partner with a virtual reality applications company. You want to know you’re working with experts who fully understand the capabilities of this technology. They’ll help you realize its full potential.

May 22, 2018

Iot for Healthcare: How it’s Transforming the Medical Industry

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices that connect to a network the same way your computer, phone, or tablet can. This allows users to control them remotely. It also allows the devices themselves to share information. Wearable devices, smart TVs, and even smart thermostats are all examples of IoT devices.

This technology has a wide range of potential applications, especially in the medical industry. The IoT in healthcare can help physicians make more accurate diagnoses, help patients better understand their conditions, and much more. Healthcare providers and patients who leverage IoT healthcare stand to benefit in major ways.

The following examples illustrate how:

Wearable Health Technology Will Enhance Diagnostic Methods

The role of wearable devices in healthcare (e.g. fitness trackers) is growing increasingly prominent. That’s because, as the technology improves, these devices can start monitoring many essential health factors.

For instance, perhaps a physician encourages a patient to make certain lifestyle changes in order to manage a condition. By leveraging mHealth and wearable technology,  a device could relay information to a doctor, confirming the patient is making the necessary changes.

Wearable health technology can also monitor factors like blood pressure, heart rate, etc. This use of IoT for healthcare provides a doctor with a more thorough perspective on a patient’s well being, making it easier to diagnose a condition accurately.

IoT for healthcare

Healthcare IoT and Wearable Technology Improve Hospital Operations

IoT healthcare solutions also allow medical facilities to operate more efficiently. For example, inventory management is a challenge at many hospitals.

That’s why more hospitals are following the example set by retailers and using IoT healthcare products to monitor inventory. Before they run out of supplies, the device will alert the relevant employee, allowing them to place an order with time to spare.

MHealth and wearable technology that incorporates IoT development also enhances workflow optimization. With wearable technology in healthcare and RFID tags, hospital managers can monitor the activity of employees throughout the day. This use of the IoT for healthcare allows them to identify operational inefficiencies so they can make the necessary changes.

Looking to the Future of mHealth and Wearable Technology

The market for the IoT and wearable devices in healthcare is growing. Experts believe that by 2021, the mHealth and wearable technology market will be worth $136.8 billion worldwide. As more patients and physicians recognize the benefits that the IoT offers in healthcare, they’ll seek out new ways to take advantage of it.

Organizations can benefit now by partnering with IoT healthcare developers. It’s clear there’s a growing demand for wearable technology designed specifically for the healthcare industry. By working with experts, you can create those products, offering genuine value to your customers.

May 10, 2018

Digital Transformations in Retail That are Changing the Way We Shop

The retail shopping experience is always changing. Technology is often responsible for those changes because they enable brands to create digital transformations. Innovations like ecommerce, mobile devices, and augmented reality have all impacted the way we shop. As new technologies emerge, the customer experience continues to improve.

Businesses that want to take advantage of these trends should partner with digital transformation solution specialists. By doing so, they’ll be much more likely to offer their customers the kind of forward-thinking service they’ll appreciate.

The following examples demonstrate just a few of the ways digital transformation services have already revolutionized the shopping experience for the better. They’ll help you better understand how your company can do the same.

A Retailer Demonstrates Why the IoT Should be Part of Your Digital Transformation Strategy

The Internet of Things – which refers to devices connected over a network – has made shopping for clothes more convenient than ever. The digital transformations that result from such technology have been especially apparent in the retail sector.

For example, fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff has installed “smart mirrors” in the fitting rooms of several stores. When a customer enters the fitting room, a device detects which items they’re trying on by reading small chips attached to them.

The mirror essentially serves as a large tablet in this situation. Along with displaying the customer’s reflection, it can be used to request items in a different size from sales associates.

Not only is the mirror a means of digital transformation for the customer experience, but it’s also effective at boosting revenue for the brand. The technology helps the company increase sales by recommending items that complement the garments a customer is already trying on.

digital transforamtion solutions

A German Wine Store Uses Digital Technology to Transform the Customer Experience

A digital transformation strategy can make it much easier for customers to find what they’re looking for when they shop. Germany’s BASF wine stores have demonstrated this with an app that asks customers to enter information about the type of wine they’re interested in.

The app suggests relevant wines and even highlights them on a digital store shelf. Thus, finding the ideal wine at the actual brick-and-mortar store is simpler than ever with this digital transformation solution.

These Major Brands Offer Augmented Reality as a Digital Transformation Solution

Augmented reality, made popular by apps like Snapchat and Pokemon Go!, allows users to superimpose virtual images over the real world as displayed via a mobile device or wearable headset. Major brands are already leveraging this technology in their digital transformation strategy to improve ecommerce options.

For instance, Sephora offers customers an app through which they can “try on” virtual makeup over a selfie. With IKEA’s AR app, customers can superimpose virtual renderings of furniture over their immediate surroundings, making it much easier to determine if a given item is right for their home.

Again, these products offer a digital transformation of the customer experience that allows brands to better serve their customers, while also boosting sales.

Why Partner With a Digital Transformation Agency?

Brands that take advantage of digital transformation services to serve their customers better can enjoy more sales, increased brand loyalty, and more opportunities to learn about what their customers want and expect from them.

However, the technologies used in a digital transformation strategy are constantly developing. That’s why it’s important to partner with experts who are thoroughly familiar with their capabilities.

By recruiting help from a digital transformation agency who know how to leverage these technologies to their full potential, your brand will establish itself as the kind of company that’s always striving to serve customers better than ever before.

April 26, 2018

Experiential Marketing v. Traditional: The Value of Brand Experiences

These days, marketers have many different ways of reaching customers. Traditional methods like magazine ads and television commercials still abound, but thanks to the internet, consumers are now bombarded with ads constantly.

That means it’s harder to impress them. Some brands have solved this problem by integrating experiential marketing tactics into their campaigns. These brand experiences trigger emotional reactions in customers that allow businesses to cultivate relationships, boost loyalty, and stand out among the competition.

Technology has enhanced these campaigns by giving participants the kinds of dynamic experiences other forms of advertising don’t offer. Here are a few ways in which brands have leveraged technology to produce brand experiences that engage and energize consumers.

The Nature of Experiential Marketing: Case Studies

experiential marketing - Google

Image source: http://www.adweek.com/creativity/watch-zappos-hilariously-punk-google-ambushing-its-cupcake-truck-austin-167314/

Google Combined a Brand Experience With a Product Endorsement

Experiential marketing typically involves some form of user participation. That’s why it helps to leverage technology. In some cases, the technology being leveraged may be the same product being marketed.

That was the case when Google sought to promote its new photo app. The tech giant generated interest in the app by heading to Austin, TX with a cupcake truck. Instead of charging money, Google asked customers to take photos with the new product. The photos served as a type of currency that could be exchanged for cupcakes.

By integrating the product promotion with an experiential marketing strategy that used a universally-loved item (cupcakes), Google succeeded at deepening loyalty and connection to their brand. Additionally, the brand experience provided consumers with a moment they could look back on fondly, and directly associate with Google.

experiential marketing - Verizon

Image source: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2017/09/free-iphone-8-verizons-ar-snapchat-scavenger-hunt/

Verizon’s Experiential Strategy Led Users Through A Snapchat Scavenger Hunt

Verizon is another major company that used an app to boost the strength of its experiential marketing campaigns. Partnering with Snapchat, Verizon gave customers the opportunity to participate in an augmented reality scavenger hunt.

Participants with Snapchat accounts in various cities across the United States downloaded a scavenger hunt app that offered clues leading them to secret locations. Verizon was giving away 256 iPhone 8S to the winners. Because the clues were solely virtual in nature (thanks to augmented reality tech), only those who had downloaded the app could play.

This type of approach to experiential marketing is smart for the technology it employed to widen the reach and accessibility of the campaign. Although some effective brand experiences require customers to gather in one place (like Bud Light’s House of Whatever event), mobile apps – especially those that leverage AR – can allow customers to participate no matter where they happen to be.

experiential marketing - Nike

Image source: https://www.behance.net/gallery/23146207/Nike-The-Open-at-Moynihan

Nike Developed an App to Improve the Experience – Not Define It

Technology doesn’t always need to be the focus of experiential marketing. Sometimes it can simply make a brand experience more enjoyable.

For example, Nike hosted a ping pong tournament to coincide with the start of the US Open. Developers created a custom mobile app for the event to help players keep score. The app may not have been the basis for the event, but it did simplify a key aspect of it.

Customers Want Brand Experiences

The fact that consumers prefer experiential marketing isn’t mere speculation. According to surveys, 93% of consumers report that brand experiences have much more of an influence on them than simple TV ads. On top of that, 72% of consumers claim they develop a more positive attitude towards a company if it offers quality content and experiences.

That said, the brand experience shouldn’t be random or arbitrary. Instead, it should correspond to the company’s actual identity. When marketing your product, take the time to consider what types of experiences your ideal customer would want to have.

For example, if you’re marketing a photography app, perhaps you could host an exhibit in which you display pictures that users have taken with your app. If you’re marketing an apparel brand, host a fashion show.

Finally, try to determine how you can use tech products to optimize your campaign. Incorporating an app into an experiential marketing event allows brands to maintain customer interest after the event is over. The event may not last forever, but the related app may stay on a customer’s device, allowing an experience to fit in with an overall marketing campaign.

April 20, 2018

How to Leverage Virtual Assistant & Voice recognition in the Workplace

The time to be skeptical of voice recognition technology and voice assistant apps has passed. According to experts, 2018 will be the year voice skills go mainstream. Thanks to innovations in natural language processing, machine learning, and related technologies, voice recognition apps now offer a wide range of benefits.

This is especially true in the workplace. By implementing IVR solutions at the office, companies can save money by hiring fewer assistants, employees can focus on the most important work, and everyone can complete basic tasks with much greater efficiency than ever before.

This isn’t speculation: Many professionals have already leveraged voice command apps for Android and iOS specifically to fulfill these purposes. Tech companies are also working hard to make voice skills more useful.

The following examples illustrate how they are accomplishing this:

Physicians Use Voice Recognition Apps to Work More Efficiently

According to a recent survey, approximately 23% of physicians in the United States use voice assistant apps to some degree. Considering how relatively new this technology is, that’s very impressive.

Most surveyed doctors report using these products because they help save time. Doctors must often search for information online. They also need to regularly enter data into various programs and files. iOS and Android speech recognition apps help them do so with greater efficiency.

Physicians also cite the hands-free nature of voice assistant apps as a key benefit. For instance, during a procedure, a doctor may not be able to easily drop what they’re doing and pick up the phone to perform a task. With a voice or Google speaker app, they don’t have to.

This benefit can easily apply to other types of work, too. Plenty of jobs become easier with IVR solutions when employees have the option of looking up information, making calls, or entering data without having to use their hands.

voice assistant app

Amazon Alexa is the IVR Solution Coming to an Office Near You

Interactive voice response (IVR) solutions will transform offices in the near future. Companies like Amazon are working to make this happen sooner rather than later. Just last year, Amazon announced new Alexa voice skill features that are ideal for office workers.

With the Alexa voice recognition app, users can now make conference calls, manage calendars, find and reserve conference rooms, and order supplies.

Individually, these voice skills sound useful. Together, they could revolutionize the way offices operate.

The amount of time all employees at a given organization spend on these kinds of day-to-day tasks adds up. When office workers can rely on a voice assistant for Android or iOS to perform complete their work more quickly, the company’s overall efficiency gets a major boost.

On top of that, companies won’t be restricted solely to the features of a voice assistant app that Amazon deems necessary. They’ll be able to coordinate with developers to create IVR solutions  designed for their specific needs.

Where Voice Assistant App Development is Heading

Companies won’t even need to rely solely on Alexa voice skills. Instead, they can work with voice recognition app developers to create products for whatever hardware they use.

Perhaps your organization wants to build a voice assistant for Android devices. Specialists with experience using Android speech recognition technology can create a voice command app for Android built specifically for your business.

In fact, the competition between the big companies’ IVR solutions, like the Google speaker app and Amazon’s Alexa voice skills, is good for consumers. Tech companies are striving to get their voice assistants in offices first.

Whether your office uses Alexa, Siri, a Google speaker app, or a product from an unrelated competitor, voice assistant apps will offer many benefits. Your business can leverage IVR solutions to reduce costs, boost productivity, and ensure all staff has the time to focus on tasks that matter.

April 13, 2018

Enterprise Mobile App Developers Need to Be Ready for the BYOD Era

Companies across a wide range of industries rely on equipping their employees with mobile devices. However, many people already have smartphones and/or tablets; the idea of having to use a separate one for work isn’t appealing to them.

That’s why more and more organizations are adopting the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. As the name implies, this trend in enterprise UX design involves letting employees use their own personal devices for work-related tasks, instead of providing them with new ones.

The advantages of BYOD for enterprise employee user experiences

It’s easy to imagine why this practice is growing in popularity among major organizations. Companies save a lot of money when they don’t have to purchase devices for each employee.

Additionally, staffers don’t want to carry two devices; they do want (and in many cases, need), though, the option of accessing company data while they’re out of the office. On top of that, if a company offers flexible hours, employees may work from home often: Having the ability to use their own mobile devices is much more convenient than constantly bringing a company device home with them.

However, there are potential downsides to enterprise mobile app development for employees. According to a recent survey, 98% of IT professionals have concerns about the impact of mobile devices in the workplace. Primarily, their worries relate to device security, network security, and customer data security.

When all employees use company devices, IT professionals have much more control over security measures. If employees use their own devices, everything from confidential client information to the organization’s financial data could be at risk.

Despite this, it’s unlikely that companies will abandon the BYOD approach. That’s why app developers must be skilled in enterprise software design suited to this new era. By understanding what features enterprise clients need, developers can make apps that are both safe and functional.

enterprise mobile app development

How the BYOD era will impact enterprise software design

Security issues aren’t the only problems that may arise when employees use their own mobile devices for work-related tasks. When a company supplies its workers with phones or tablets, managers can choose one operating system for all devices. That makes it easier to decide which apps employees should use for work.

However, employees who use their own devices won’t all use the same operating system. Thus, developers creating enterprise UX and software design must focus on building apps that are compatible with a wide range of operating systems.

The enterprise user experience must also include features that allow enterprises to monitor the use of such apps, as well as features that make it easy to identify potential vulnerabilities. When the IT team can’t enforce security measures, the app must be as secure as possible already. Even mobile applications that appear safe can have vulnerabilities that are only apparent after prolonged use.

As enterprise mobile app development continues to grow in popularity, it will also need to account for the fact that employees may use various devices. The apps they rely on for work tasks must function on any device they may use (e.g. tablets, phones).

These points all imply there may soon be increased demand for custom enterprise mobile app development. Enterprises that allow workers to use their own phones and tablets for work will want developers to create products designed for their specific needs. In the BYOD era, a new market will emerge: custom apps for enterprises. Developers must be prepared to take advantage of it using the best techniques in enterprise UX design.

BYOD ushers in unique opportunities for an enterprise user experience

While the challenges listed above are legitimate, the BYOD era also presents developers with unique opportunities in enterprise software design. Again, if more enterprises recognize the benefits of custom mobile app development, developers will have the chance to meet the needs of a new, substantial set of clients.

By focusing on security, versatility, and an intuitive UX and UI that all employees can grasp, they can stand out by creating ideal products for this era. The enhancement of the employee experience through excellent enterprise UX design will encourage greater engagement, productivity, and motivation.


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