The engineered experience: Loyalty for technology consumer goods
Traditional loyalty programs feature points, rewards, and member benefits to promote repeat purchases. But programs like these present a challenge for technology consumer goods with companies who sell devices like laptops, smart speakers, security systems, and other digital devices—how do these companies foster loyalty when the time period between purchases is years, not months? In other words, how do you make sure your customer—when they are ready to purchase another device—chooses your product again and again?
The answer to this question is deceivingly simple: focus on the moments that matter. Go beyond designing a great product to the meaningful touchpoints that surround it. Let’s dig into some moments that matter and examples of companies that delight their customers.
Moment #1: Pre-purchase
The customer lifecycle for technology consumer goods begins long before a customer goes into a store or presses the “add to cart” button. According to Google, over half of all consumers do research before they buy. Consumers are armed with more information about products than ever before.
While most tech companies do a good job of providing information that helps prospective customers make informed choices about features and benefits, they often overlook key opportunities to give a consumer a low- or no-cost introduction to their device experience. There’s a reason Apple brick and mortar stores have been wildly successful. It’s because the customer experience is baked into the product experience.
Peloton also recognized this opportunity when they looked to expand beyond just selling exercise bikes. They began by building out content on other workout types and offering a subscription to their platform independent of their popular exercise machines. You may not be ready to invest $2000 or more in a bike but investing in a monthly subscription to participate in their fitness community is a way to test whether the investment could be worthwhile. The community also benefits from the influx of new members to encourage, learn from, and grow with. This provides value and a sense of accomplishment to long-term riders and subscribers.
Moment #2: Unboxing
As retail brands have capitalized on the trend of unboxing videos on platforms like YouTube and Instagram, this moment goes beyond the joy of what is in the box to finding the smoothest, fastest path to use.
Think about mobile phone purchases you’ve made over the last decade—how has that experience improved over time? Gone are the days of standing at Verizon’s counter for 30 minutes while they use a proprietary device to port your data from your old phone to new. Brands like Apple are thinking about how quickly they can help you set up. They think through every screen in setup and how to make porting your information from your prior device simple, even providing set up services in their physical stores.
Some companies take this one step further with offering a freebie to get the user excited and engaged from the start: free streaming service access like NFL Live through Verizon or HBO Max from AT&T. This focus on the “unboxing” experience lets the customer get value in their first experience with the product while simultaneously decreasing the chances of a return or negative review.
Moment #3: The engineered experience
When your customer has successfully set up your device, what next? Addressing their experience while using the device goes beyond a great product. This “moment” has many opportunities embedded within it—consider:
- How does your user become an expert in the device and do something that they’ve never done before?
- What happens when something goes wrong? How easy is it for your customer to get help resolving their issue?
- How will the experience be upgraded over time? What happens during software updates?
- How do you amplify the value of your device by surrounding usage with complementary services, content, and products?
Consider for this moment the purpose-built Kindle. Amazon built and refined its Kindle designs as a nod to the traditional book reading experience but surrounded it with complementary information and features. With recommendations, notifications on sales of your favorite authors, integrations with dictionaries, local library systems, free books, and more, the engineered experience expands beyond the product itself.
And rather than the planned obsolescence that weakens customer trust and brand affinity, Amazon actually helps customers extend the life of their Kindles. By providing free helpful information on how to remediate problems with your existing devices, Amazon builds longer-term customer relationships.
The device, however, is only an entry point into a deeper relationship predicated on more book and content purchases, a greater investment in the product ecosystem, and eventually a new Kindle—all increasing customer lifetime value. This thoughtful subscription model makes the device experience even more sticky. As someone whose Kindle has been dead for months, I’m still reading books in the Kindle app on my other devices and would choose Kindle again next time.
For technology consumer goods companies, loyalty lies in the ecosystem. This is why they must design for brand-wide loyalty, not just device loyalty. Tech companies that do this thoughtfully engineer experience beyond the device, fostering emotive bonds through customer connection across content, community, and the moments that matter. By understanding what your customer values and ensuring your device and service ecosystem meet those needs, you build loyalty, not for a one-time purchase, but a lifelong brand commitment.
About the author
Brooke Bors serves as Engagement Manager at PK. She has dedicated her 15+ year career to advocating for customers and building the infrastructure, tools, and strategies to help worldwide firms better connect with and serve those customers. She’s led global teams inside customer success and advocacy organizations, facilitated executive workshops and planning meetings, and built customer advocacy and feedback programs from scratch. At PK, she works with some of the world’s most customer-obsessed technology brands to build durable, differentiated customer strategies and programs.Tags: Customer Experience