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How to use voice-activated devices for loyalty

13th Aug 2018
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Businesses are just starting to explore the possibilities of voice-activated devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. It’s clear that these devices are popular; 3.2 million Google Home devices and 2.5 million units of the Echo were sold in Q1 of 2018 alone.

The main challenge for businesses lies in discovering exactly how customers want to use voice-activated devices, and what businesses can do to help them. While some businesses are creating apps and services that customers can use to do their shopping or even play games, others are looking at how they can use voice-activated systems to supplement their loyalty programmes.

Voice-activated devices represent a challenge for brands

According to comScore, 50% of all searches conducted in 2020 will be via voice. Instead of engaging with brands, many people will use voice assistants to find the best deal, information or entertainment for them.

Raconteur quotes Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, as saying: “Effectively, Amazon is partnering with about 700 million global consumers, infinite capital from fanatical investors and technology to declare war on brands.” He argues that brands are at risk of losing their connection to consumers, as much of the screen-based communication they rely on will be avoided by many people.

The challenges businesses will face will be connecting with consumers before they become customers, and creating and maintaining an emotional connection between the brand and consumer that’s stronger than the convenience of asking your voice assistant to find you the best deal.

Businesses must find ways to use this new technology to provide services that customers value. One way they can do this is through incorporating the technology into the delivery of their loyalty programmes.

Establishing authority and trust with people before they become customers

While there is concern that brands will find it harder to connect to people once voice-activated devices become the norm, there are ways that brands can use these devices to connect to people.

One survey of UK voice-activated device users found that more than 50% of the questions people asked their devices were focused on the news or weather. One in five people used their devices to time boiling an egg.

When eMarketer researched how American consumers used their voice-activated devices, it found that 74% used them to listen to music, while just over 72% used the devices for information or asking the time. Just over 39% reported that they used their devices to shop.

As more people start using this technology, they’re likely to start by simply asking it for information. This is where brands can introduce themselves, not as a hard sales pitch, but as a guide. In this way, they can start to build trust and develop a relationship with the people they serve.

For example, pet food brand, Purina, has an Alexa skill called ‘Ask Purina’, which acts as a way to help people by giving them information and answering their pet related questions without expecting anything in return. However, it also keeps the brand in people’s minds. Before loyalty, comes awareness.

Allow members of loyalty programmes to track their progress

Other brands have started to use voice-activated devices to make their loyalty programmes and perks easier to access.

Avios Group, for example, created a skill on Amazon Alexa which allowed loyalty programme members to ask questions, track their points balance and see how close they were to earning certain rewards. American Express does something similar. By saying “Alexa, open Amex”, customers can check their balances, make payments and manage their rewards.

At Comarch, we’ve found that one of the most important aspects of a successful loyalty programme is ease of use. Businesses can use voice-activated devices to make it easier for their members to access and manage their loyalty account, and potentially make it easier to redeem their points and perks.

Help customers create and share wish lists

Personalisation is another crucial aspect of successful loyalty programmes. Businesses can use devices like Alexa to let people tailor their own loyalty experience. One way to do this is by allowing customers to create and share wishlists.

Points Pal lets members access their reward information from various loyalty programmes. Members can create wish lists and use virtual assistants to alert them when prices of wish list items drop. It can also alert them when they’ve earned enough reward points to get one of their desired products.

Customer loyalty goes beyond the loyalty scheme and the quality of the reward. It’s about putting the customer at the heart of everything the brand does, doing everything possible to improve the customer’s experience, and reducing the effort they need to make. Voice-activated devices present businesses with a unique opportunity to provide personalised loyalty in an easy and accessible way for its programme members.

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