The best possible outcome from a social, local, mobile (SoLoMo) strategy is a differentiating customer experience. While this may sound obvious it remains elusive for many businesses. My friend and fellow contributor Craig Jamieson raises the stakes well beyond simply meeting expectations.
In fact, several studies reflect a significant gap between the experience customers expect vs the one they actually receive.
To make matters even more challenging, the current landscape is continuing to evolve with the penetration of mobile devices well past the tipping point. Basically an effective SoLoMo strategy requires a customer first focus that drives brands to search for ways to deliver what customers want and need.
I have provided case studies that demonstrate how two powerful brands have adopted SoLoMo strategies, providing more relevant and engaging customer experiences.
Nike fundamentally changed their focus by creating a whole new way to reach their target audience.
Wal-Mart is implementing new techniques that leverage technology in order to provide added utility for their customers.
One of my goals in writing this column is providing you with practical examples of brands who are exploring new and better ways to create differentiating customer experiences. Recently I came across an article describing the new app that Lowe’s has deployed.
How is SoLoMo evolving?
It’s clear from my research that Lowe’s is looking for ways to create a single, relevant customer experience across all channels. Those who know me well will note the irony of me using Lowe’s as a case study. Let’s just say I am not the DIY (do it yourself) target audience; however, if I can find relevance in this app, Lowe’s has figured out a way to reach a different target segment.
SoLoMo is trending toward a more personal and effective experience in stores.
In the interest of marketing research, I decided to sign up for the app in order to appreciate the experience.
Although I do shop at Lowe’s from time to time, I have not participated in any of their loyalty programs. Typically I have found their store staff helpful; however, I find the trips to pick up a few items daunting and a bit overwhelming.
First, downloading the app is simple as long as you do it from a smartphone and not a tablet. The process of setting a store location nearby was simple. As you can see the opening message is relevant to the season and helpful in providing store hours. Kudos for the recognition that mobile is often immediate.
Next, the process of customizing the app is pretty straightforward as well. I was quickly able to sign up for the My Lowe’s account. The advantages are being able to customize the app in a way that helps me. For example, I am able to enter the size of the various rooms in my house in addition to yard measurements. All of this is helpful and seldom available when necessary.
Now for the really fun part: I was delighted to see that I can create a shopping list before I go to the store, but of course that is no big deal, many retailers offer that. What I really love is the store map; here you can see I created a “list” of items along with the isle and location. There is an actual store map I can reference if I need a little extra help.
What about the role of email?
I am glad you asked because the most effective SoLoMo strategies provide multiple channels of communication; most have an email strategy.
Immediately after installing and customizing the app I received this welcome email.
I like the tag line “Never stop improving” because it works for all stakeholders and serves as a constant reminder. Notice how the layout and language mimics the app, this is key to creating a seamless experience.
I can access information from my smartphone through email, the app or both; I get to choose.
Is there a role for social media?
Notice the social media icons at the bottom of the welcome email. Lowe’s has a presence on five major platforms. While most of you may be familiar with the big four, Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, you may not be as familiar with Pinterest.
Lowe’s uses consistent branding across all platforms and they do a nice job of adapting content to the appropriate channel. For example, on their Facebook page they encourage interaction, even allowing customers to express their displeasure. An important next step is encouraging customers to share content. Raymond Morin offers some helpful ways to identify ambassadors in social media.
Pinterest is a rapidly growing site featuring images. While the site has primarily attracted females, there is evidence the appeal is spreading to a broader audience. More importantly, the site seems to be increasingly important in driving relevant traffic to ecommerce sites.
For me, the YouTube presence was the most impressive of all, with numerous videos with helpful tips on basic repairs to idea generating tours, there was a wealth of information available. And, these videos are easily accessible from the app.
How does Lowe’s deal with alignment?
Lowe’s has distributed 42,000 iphones with the app installed to their associates in order to generate awareness and help customers find what they need.
This is a really savvy move, I have often written about empowered consumers having more information and technology than front line staff. Providing this kind of incentive can help turn your most valuable asset, your associates, into ambassadors for your brands and initiatives.
What are the benefits?
In addition to the obvious benefits of customer engagement, Lowe’s now has more relevant and useful data. Customers are able to search for products while using the app. This data is available for analysis.
I give Lowe’s high marks for creating a more tailored and helpful customer experience. Honestly I might even look forward to my next shopping excursion.
Have you tried this app? What about other similar apps?