Do You Know Me?
Just after the lockdown was lifted, I wanted to visit a retail electronics store near my house with my son to check some of the new gadgets and devices. It is right across my house. We have been there many times over the past years. Since access inside the store was restricted due to the coronavirus regulations, circles had been drawn outside the store. We were on the fifth circle outside the store. A few minutes of waiting and I realised that we would have to wait for 20-25 minutes before we would be left in. I walked up to the person at the entrance and said, “I am your Best Customer. If you check my purchase history linked to my mobile number, you will find that I have spend a couple lakhs in the past two years with you to buy a smart TV, iPads, phones and more. Don’t you think I should be given priority access to get inside?” I think we all know the response! I walked away and took my business elsewhere.
In the pre-corona world, the experience was not very different at multiplexes. I have watched dozens of movies at Inox at Nariman Point with family. They should know. And yet every experience from booking to buying food is exactly the same each time. It is like I am a new customer for them each time I visit. So, I have to go the app to book tickets and compete with everyone else to get the best seats. And in case I miss the Thursday morning window for popular movies, I may not even get seats adjacent for the three of us.
Imagine instead if Inox sent me an email on Thursday morning stating, “Dear Rajesh. You are part of our Velvet Rope Marketing (Best Customer) programme. We have reserved three seats for you and your family for this new movie releasing tomorrow which we know you will like. These seats are for the Saturday 5:30 pm show which we know is your favourite show time. The seats are in the second last row on the left aisle which we also know is where you prefer to watch. We will hold the seats for the next two hours. Just click here and pay, and the seats are yours. Hope to see you at Inox soon.”
What an experience this would be! Instead of splitting watching between Inox at Nariman Point and PVR at Lower Parel, I would give Inox all my entertainment spend which means they would double revenues from me, making me even more of a Best Customer for them.
I can give more examples but we get the idea. We have all been through these experiences. A decade or two ago, online and offline brands knew very little about us so they had no way to differentiate our experiences. But now, they do. All our actions on websites and apps are tracked and stored forever. Our purchases in offline stores are linked with our mobile number. And yet, the actual experience hasn’t changed much except perhaps in earning some loyalty points.
The retail and ecommerce industries have much to learn from airlines and hotels.