At a time when brands have over-rotated on digital marketing -- where so many think they can use digital marketing as the hook, line and sinker to build brand and attract customers -- the real innovation is happening outside the traditional marketing funnel activity.
It’s occurring at multiple points of the customer journey, in moments that matter most to customers.
Retailer CVS has announced it will start offering home delivery of prescription drugs at most of its 9,800 U.S. retail stores. It’s a bold, but necessary, move in a world that’s not just digital, not just physical, but which combines both. CVS will let you submit or renew your prescription on a mobile device, computer, or via phone, and in one or two days your prescription will get delivered to your door, providing last-mile customer journey delight.
CVS’s approach to omnichannel customer service is a bid to beat Amazon and others to the home-delivery market for prescription drugs. But it’s more than that. It’s representative of retailers’ and brands’ work toward creating useful, delightful, and service-oriented offerings that win and retain customers and earn their loyalty.
Acquia believes so strongly that customer journey orchestration can help brands acquire, convert and grow customers that we’re focused on helping brands solve this challenge with our solution, Acquia Journey.
As CNBC said about CVS’s efforts, “Amazon has already strained retailers with its free two-day shipping and is now eyeing the prescription drug market. CVS' program will be a test of whether patients are willing to wait for their medicines in exchange for the convenience of delivery.”
To me, the answer is yes. CVS’s work shows that it’s trying to move faster than ever to differentiate with customer experience and convenience across the total customer journey - something customers have proven willing to pay for (hello, Amazon Prime).
The Best Customer Experiences Save Time, Reduce Effort
Today, new customer-oriented services save time, save money and provide useful services across the customer journey. These are gaining traction and helping brands grow and build loyalty. Before prescription delivery, CVS was early to the game with drive-through pharmacy pick-up and more recently rolled out curbside pickup for store items. CVS is exhibiting a lesson of the experience era.
CVS isn’t alone. Just this week, other brands are showing that they too have experience innovation on the brain. Two examples that jumped out at me include Marriott International and the U.S. Postal Service.
- Marriott, in a partnership with Amazon, will introduce the Alexa for Hospitality service in Marriott, Westin, St. Regis, Aloft, and other Marriott-run hotel chains. The program will see Alexa devices set up in hotel rooms to act as a voice-activated concierge. Guests can ask questions about the property, play music, order room service, and book spa services, among other things. (Acquia Labs has been innovating with conversational interfaces powered by Alexa for the past two years, including a landmark program with the State of Georgia. You can read more here.)
- The U.S. Postal Service is launching Informed Delivery by USPS, which will send an image of postal mail pieces, as they run through USPS’s automated sorting machines, to recipients who opt in to the service. While the system won’t peek inside letters or pay your bills, postal customers will be able to view images of envelopes and packages to see what will be delivered in the next day or two. Customers will be able to track mail items and, for key pieces, provide delivery instructions, or schedule redelivery from their smartphones. (It’s an interesting service, albeit with strings attached - direct mail and digital advertising will be part of the free service, according to the USPS website.)
If you’re a chief marketing officer, chief digital officer, chief experience officer, or even a chief information officer, the question to ask is. “What digital experiences can your business create and facilitate to engage more effectively with users, provide utility service, save customers time, or make memorable moments that create loyalty and happy customers?”
As I wrote in a recent CMSWire.com piece, “Brands and marketing teams are so focused on messaging and creating a unique experience that they often forget the core foundation of any successful business transaction: solving a problem.”
I think we’ve finally, in 2018, reached an inflection point in the history of “digital” where companies and brands are starting to chase the right things more frequently. They’re using digital technology not as the end-all, be-all, but as the means to make life easier, better, more convenient for their prospects and customers.
Having spent so much treasure on digital purely for marketing and attention-grabbing efforts, smart brands will increasingly leverage digital capabilities to create valuable services that win, serve and retain customers for the long run.