Instructor Spotlight: Simone Blakers

13 Nov 2019

Through working with a number of leading agencies in both Sydney and London, Simone has helped brands like Qantas, AMEX and Woolworths retain more customers through better customer experiences. She’s now a Customer Experience Consultant at LiquidCX and shares her unparalleled CX and loyalty insights in IQ’s Retention Marketing Strategy course.

1.     How did you get into the field of creating customer experience?

I started my career in direct marketing and had the opportunity to then follow the rise of digital, social and data-driven marketing over the last 25 years. The evolution into customer experience was a natural career progression enabling me to work with clients and bring all the touch points a consumer has with a brand into cohesive journeys.

2.     What do you love about your job?

I really enjoy the variety of problem solving. Sometimes I work with clients who have not connected their brand purpose into the experience a customer has of their product. Other times it’s about marketing automation and or using design thinking to unlock innovative solutions.

I’m also a geek at heart and am really passionate about utilising technology - so I love the fact that I get to work with exceptionally talented devs and data specialists.

3.     What is your favourite loyalty or retention program you’ve worked on?

I’ve had the privilege of working with many large programs such as Amex Membership Rewards, Qantas Frequent Flyer, McDonalds MyMacca’s and Woolworths Everyday Rewards.

However my favourite would have to be the retention and growth initiatives within the Westpac Know Me Program. It’s hard for a retail bank to truly be of service and develop customer relationships on mass in the digital age. The intention of the Know Me program was to move from pushing products to truly being there for the customer at the right time with the next best action. It was a visionary approach in the very functional category of financial services.

4.     What are the biggest factors influencing customer loyalty?

Loyalty Programs have changed a lot over the years. But the principles of engagement, retention and advocacy are still the same. We have to remember that loyalty is an outcome of good customer relationships - and that’s where a lot of marketing programs fail. They have lost sight of the fact that brands need to earn a customer’s loyalty. As marketers we need to challenge ourselves to ensure our customer relationships run deeper than a few incentives or points.

5.     Why are customer retention and loyalty so important to brands today? Why should marketers up-skill in this area?

We all know that it’s cheaper to keep and grow a customer than acquire a new one, yet so many businesses are only focused on finding the next new customer. Building a customer relationship that lasts will deliver real financial outcomes for your business. And enabling customers to experience your brand beyond advertising is the key to unlocking advocacy.

These are timeless strategic topics that are foundational to all businesses. It doesn’t matter what channels you are using, wether it’s outbound calling, or an Alexa Skill, email or messenger bots. The principles are the same and those marketing skills are in high demand.

6.     What’s the best career advice you ever received?

Create an environment with the freedom to fail. Without it there is no ability to test and learn and no ability to innovate.

7. How has technology contributed to loyalty marketing? What does AI for instance mean for customer retention?

Technology has enabled data driven automation so that marketers can deliver personalised experiences that are timely and contextually relevant. This intention has always been there as part of loyalty strategies, but it was hard and labour-intensive to deliver against. From journey builders that trigger messages to mobile enabled experiences and innovative payment and transaction mechanisms, to AI driven testing, optimisation and insights, new technology has made it is easier than ever to build customer relationships at scale.

Learn the ins and outs of a robust retention marketing program at IQ’s Retention Marketing Strategy course.

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