TCS Digital Software & Solutions launched in 2014 as a strategic growth business within Tata Consultancy Services – an IT services, consulting, and business solutions organization serving large businesses across the globe. Businesses navigate critical digital transformations with modular, scalable, and fully integrated industry-tailored licensed software and solutions delivered by the TCS unit.
AI-powered analytics solutions help accelerate sustainability journeys and net zero initiatives, as well as improve customer experience and customer lifetime value in retail, banking, financial services, insurance, and manufacturing industries.
As part of the Tata group, India’s largest multinational business group, TCS has over 613,000 employees in 55 countries. The company generated consolidated revenues of $25.7 billion (U.S.) in its fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.
Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with Padmashwini Raghunathan, Product Manager for CI&I Retail and TCS Loyalty Management at the Digital Software & Solutions Group, about transforming an organization from transactional to emotional loyalty, building a foundation of customer knowledge, and fostering emotional loyalty by creating customer communities.
The Three Keys To Move from Transactional Loyalty to Emotional Loyalty
Raghunathan highlights three imperatives to transforming an organization from transactional loyalty to emotional loyalty: Hyper-personalization, Experiential Marketing, and Authenticity.
Personalization uses basic customer data such as name, gender, location, transaction history, browsing information, and similar factors to tailor messages, offers, and recommendations that speak to a customer as an individual. However, hyper-personalized experiences go further.
“Hyper-personalized experiences leverage analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine-learning capabilities to create detailed customer personas based on multiple attributes including demographic, psychographic, and transactional data collected from shoppers,” Raghunathan explains. “It models customer journeys based on product or persona and links relevant offers and next-best-action recommendations at each step of the customer journey to ensure higher conversion rates and improved customer satisfaction.”
Brand values are demonstrated through experiential customer journeys that are customer-centric and involve direct engagement. By creating participatory, purpose-driven experiences, brands can align themselves with causes supported by their customers and build emotional connections – forming the basis of stronger relationships.
A brand’s loyalty programs, including hyper-personalization and experiential marketing, must align with its broader purpose. Based on the brand’s actions, consistency, and commitments, customers know when a brand is authentic.
“Authenticity creates believability, confidence, and deep bonds with customers through its purpose-driven actions,” asserts Raghunathan.
Who, What, Where, When, How – and Why
A marriage of goals, values, and purposes between a customer and a brand based on mutual trust and respect builds emotional loyalty. To create such a relationship, companies must gain a deep understanding of the customer and their relationship with the brand. Customers are driven by different motivations.
“The herculean task is to uncover this understanding based on all the cues the customer leaves behind in their interactions and transactions with the brand,” says Raghunathan.
Building emotional loyalty requires two primary capabilities:
The ability to understand the single ‘customer’ who is interacting with the brand and often not revealing their identity across multiple channels and devices. This requires ‘human-centric’ intelligent matching capabilities that a real-time CDP provides. A technology solution should focus on understanding and mapping who the customer is and then stitch together what the customer does where, when, and how.
Once the who-what-where-when-how is established, it is vital to get to the why or to what motivates the customer to behave in the way they did. This is where advanced AI/ML capabilities come into the picture and build a deep analytics profile of the customer, revealing their intrinsic goals and motivations. This information is then used to deliver contextual experiences to customers by marrying the brand’s goals and values to those of the customer.
The Best of Both Worlds: Combining Transactional and Experiential Benefits
Customers are typically enticed into a relationship with a brand by transactional benefits. In fact, this is likely to be a part of the first customer experience. Programs might include points, instant discounts, member-only offers, and free shipping.
“These rational benefits are needed as the customer is in a price-sensitive zone,” Raghunathan notes. “The customer is still comparing the benefits with those of a competitor – and they may be ready to switch.”
Rational benefits help with repeat purchases and can drive customers to share more data about their preferences. In tandem, brands can start building a foundation of customer knowledge, aligning the data alongside a customers’ needs, preferences, values, and goals. Emotional benefits can be delivered, then, which pave the way for the customer to move from a price-sensitive zone to a price-insensitive zone.
Both these benefits need to work together to achieve loyalty as an outcome because customers will be at different stages in their relationships with the brand.
Building Emotional Loyalty by Building Community
Consumers who share the brand’s values, and purposes, and who are willing to go the extra mile to advocate for the brand, have transformed into emotionally loyal customers.
Brands can leverage these customers to spread brand awareness through their own social circles and networks. An effective tool in new customer acquisition and motivating other customers to increase their participation with the brand is to encourage testimonials.
When brand communities are supported, emotionally loyal customers can be empowered to create the ‘community effect’ where like-minded customers share thoughts and beliefs in an environment facilitated by the brand. Encouraging ‘expert’ customers to educate their communities about the brand’s products, services, and benefits deepens the loyalty relationship.
“Any brand wanting to build stronger and emotional connections with customers can start wherever they currently are with the most powerful tool in hand – their customer data,” says Raghunathan. “Even with transaction data, brands can begin to analyze their customer’s intrinsic needs and motivations. This is the stepping stone to forming deeper connections with customers. A data-driven intelligent loyalty solution can help a brand get there – even if the current amount of gathered data is small.”