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INTERVIEW Alex Simion of BrandAlley on the importance of customer-centricity

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“Customers now expect a high level of customer service. As a business, we have decided that the best way to meet those expectations was to place our customers at the heart of our decision-making,” said Alex Simion, head of marketing of BrandAlley.

What helped the brand grow at a significant rate, she said, speaking at Emarsys Revolution this week, is focusing on every single touch point of the customer journey, from customer service to the point of delivery. “I think it is important for every business to have this mindset, and it’s the only way to deliver the right type of product and service.”

She continued: “We had fantastic growth this year; we are growing as a company 80% year-on-year (YoY). This means that we will be aiming for similar increases next year. Our primary goal is to continue to be the place to go for customers.

“As a business, you always try to make sure that you’re ahead of your competition either through product or technology. Sometimes [retailers] forget that the end goal is the customer. [Retailers] get lost in the noise of having the best platforms, which is essential. But, we need to make sure that we always remember our primary objective, which is customer satisfaction,” said Simon.

Customer feedback as a conversion tool

While the brand operates under a subscription-only model, it relies on converting new clientele via word of mouth. It saw 24,000 new customers in September 2018, with 4,000 of those having subscribed as a result of being referred by a friend. The retailer relies on customer behavioural and contextual data to deliver a personalised shopping experience to each customer visiting its website that it says is more likely to drive recommendations. “We employ artificial intelligence (AI) to make sure that we communicate to the customer the right content at the right moment, which played a significant role in our customer retention [strategy]. Customer data collection that we do is sorted by machine learning (ML), which makes it very efficient for us to use the data for creating [targeted] campaigns.”

Loyalty: getting the basics right

When it comes to loyalty building, BrandAlley approaches this focusing on getting right the traditional aspects of customer service: product availability and speed of delivery. As she said: “As a brand, we do not believe in incentives that build loyalty. However, what we are trying to deliver to our customers so that they keep coming back is constant product availability. We also make sure that we can deliver [products] as fast as possible. [We make sure] that the first and the last step of customer experience is what they expect, and that’s what builds our loyalty.”

High street: bridging the customer data disconnect gap  

When asked to comment on how high street retailers can increase the levels of footfall to their physical stores, Simion pointed to a lack of connected experiences that’s driving the decline. As she said: “I think there is a big gap between brick-and-mortar and online. The customer data is always in silos, with retailers having different customer data behaviour in-store and online, the issue is that they never connect.” Simion claims that especially for large businesses it will take time to the change the order of their operations. “I don’t think that it will be fixed anytime soon, “It will take a massive amount of work. But, once that is done [high street retailers] will see a lot of improvement.”

Image credit: BrandAlley

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