Provide Personalized Service to Create Effective Engagement

British Airways wants to recognize and serve its high-profile fliers, so its staff will now be armed with an iPad app that will pull Google images for these VIPs. Assuming that these high-profile fliers will have reliable image results of themselves on Google, the goal is that British Airways’ staff will recognize them as they arrive and treat them with superb service. Even if its staff members are unable to find them on Google, the airline wants to use the iPad to greet them, capture additional information, and after combining this with other historical data, use this information to serve them better. Even though this program is starting off as a means to serve its top-tier fliers, British Airways intends to incorporate this approach to try and better serve as many of the 750,000 passengers that fly with the airline weekly.

I understand that British Airways did try this out as a pilot and I am curious if any one of you have feedback to share about how you felt to be greeted. My own “favorite airline” did something similar. It started greeting its high-tier fliers at airports with a concierge service that could assist the fliers to move more quickly through the airport. This was especially useful after international flights, but the program was discontinued without notice. This caused a few problems since many fliers, like myself, had factored the time savings into our travel schedule.

The Marriott Resort in Goa, India greeted my family with a drink and pictures after we checked in. Yes, it lined us up and used the old-fashioned Polaroid camera to capture our arrival. On each picture it wrote down our names and asked us about our favorite food and drink. The next five days turned out to be pretty amazing with the hotel employees greeting us and surprising us with beverages and snacks.

HDFC Bank in India initiates financial interactions with its customers by addressing the consumer by their name, in their preferred language, and with a question (usually asking if they would like to repeat their last transaction). This recognition and relevance helps save time that is appreciated by the consumer and it also shows the consumer that the bank knows who the consumer really is. These two components go a long way and the bank has found that it has helped in getting the consumer to pay attention to targeted advertising, thus resulting in a much higher probability of converting revenue.

HDFC boasts conversion rates of above 21 percent, with more than 70 percent of its consumers paying attention to the messages. By contrast, think about the last time your bank treated you at an ATM. Mine usually starts off every transaction by asking me to choose my language, then it asks me what I want, after which it tells me that it has a personalized offer for me.

Businesses need to think about three key things as they roll out consumer recognition programs: the technology, customer service, and creating brand ambassadors out of their premium segments.

First think about the technology that is involved. Make sure that your technology is capable of recognizing your consumers and can be accessed easily by all touch points involved. Make sure that you can create segments and try to learn as much about the consumer. Do not roll out the program to all your segments – improve it a little bit at a time and come up with an approval/acceptance rate before you roll it out to everyone.

The second consideration to think about is training your staff in how they should communicate with your customers. It wasn’t just about being recognized by the Marriott Resort; we were well spoken to and after the young lady explained why they were taking our pictures, we were all for it. Also keep in mind that if a consumer decides to opt out of your personalized marketing, you can remove them and make your other channels aware of their decision (or else you risk hounding the consumer).

The third consideration is to try and launch this on your social media channels by focusing on a few people first. Think about getting the first users of your personalized service to start sharing their feedback on your social networks. Incorporate this once you have ironed out the original kinks from your program and use these brand ambassadors to create a feeling of exclusivity so other consumers want to join your special program.

The more you can personalize and have a relevant conversation, the better your chances to engage and create brand ambassadors.

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