Speaker Interview: Samara Mezher

20 May 2019

Speaker Interview: Samara Mezher

Why is customer experience so important to you as a marketer? 

In highly saturated industries, like iGaming or live music festivals, being able to form lasting relationships with your client base is vital. Providing customers a with a fantastic, and if possible, unique experience helps forge these relationships and are the foundation blocks to brand loyalty - something that is difficult to create and build in a world where customers are becoming more fickle day-by-day and are so easily influenced.

It is important to me particularly in music, because everyone is attending a live experience, so ensuring that that experience lives up to the customers’ expectations, across every possible touch point; from announcement, to on-sale, through to the event itself and any after-care, is essential to success. Brands need to find ways to engage with their audience in a meaningful fashion and give customers the best experience, not just excellent customer service. This will build a long lasting, loyal customer base. 

How closely linked is the company brand and customer experience? 

They are integral to each other, a brand cannot survive on reputation alone. The minute a customer interacts with the brand they form their own opinions, irrespective of popular belief. Every single touch point that the customer interacts with from; socials, website, adverts, the purchase process (be it online or in store), the product or service itself, any problems they have, the care they receive etc. all forms part of the customers experience. That in turn moulds the consumers own view of the brand, their perception and how likely they are to be repeat customers and become brand loyal.

Furthermore, the opinion formed by that customer is one that they will share, in some form of another. This in turn then impacts other people’s views of the brand and therefore the brands reputation. This is becoming more and more important in the current world we live in, where consumers proactively share their experiences of brands, be it positive or negative, so finding a reason, that encourages a consumer to share their experience or interact with the brand in a positive manner is vital to survival. 

What role does personalisation play in the customer journey? Is it integral?

Whilst it is important, brands must also avoid getting carried away, there is no denying that it improves the customers experience but it is also not the be-all-and-end-all, for many reasons. A delicate approach needs to be taken to personalisation; firstly, because it is important that a brand doesn’t lose sight of its own identity and core values. Secondly, when anything is personalised, especially in today’s market, it raises questions of privacy and where brands are getting information from and how it is being used. Lastly, because it needs to remain efficient, scalable and sustainable.

Therefore, an overall strategy that provides brand consistency but take into account and considers cultural differences (which are ultimately both subjective and personal) is key, be that on a global or regional scale. Also, while cultures will vary on a local scale, there are also still some fundamental human truths that remain the same, regardless of territory (love, hope, happiness, fear and dreams). Brands can tap into these human truths and they provide an opportunity to connect to audiences globally. 

Brands can connect to a wider audience by using these values and aspirations in many different ways, and music particularly is a great way to do this, as it can cross borders and speak to an audience who are likely to have a similar view points. This provides efficiency and scalable delivery while also allowing a brand to communicate in what is perceived to be a more personalised fashion. Sports and e-gaming also work in a similar manner.

When you build a brand, you essentially are building your companies persona. The look, feel, tone of voice etc. all create a brands unique personality. Becoming over personalised, means brands are at risk of losing their own personality. In summary, personalisation is important but not integral, it’s essential that brands stay strong when it comes to their core values and identity, whilst still taking a personalised approach. The best approach when it comes to personalisation is to build a strong unified brand and have an overall strategy, which is driven by customer insight, then be prepared to adapte to cultural differences and execute it in a localised fashion and find other ways to improve the customer experience overall.

What are some small things digital companies can do to create a more customer centric strategy?

Insight and understanding are key. If you know your customer and can find threads of similarities in how best to communicate with them, what they engage with, what their core values are and what is important, you will be able to interact and connect with your audience in a more efficient and to an extent, more personalised fashion. This, in turn will lead to a more engaged and loyal customer base.  They say content is king, but that is not true, data and insight are. 

There is no point in generating content that doesn't speak to your audience, you need data, insight and understanding to create relevant content in order to connect with and be more customer centric, which will ultimately lead to higher conversions. Content is not just limited to socials, it goes down to a much more granular scale and is in essence every form and manner in which you communicate with your customers; from language uses in an app or online, email you send, social posts, videos, adverts, to name but a few. Small changes companies can make centre around insight and analysis of data. By understanding this, a customer centric strategy can take shape, even if that starts with the smallest of changes like the layout of an email.  

If companies adopt a customer centric strategy with dedicated KPI’s that relate to this specifically, they will see a higher percentage of repeat customers and as a result, high profit margins. Companies are too keen to chase monetary lead KPI’s and let the customer experience and customer service fall by the waist side, which is a dangerous game. Especially in an industry such as iGaming where, in reality, the only differentiating factor is the brand and the service they provide, having more customer centric focus, where customers feel valued and appreciated and that the brand focus on their interests is essential. The result, consumers who become repeat, brand loyal customers.

Why is coming to iGB Live so important to you and why should other industry professionals attend? 

All industries to a certain extent become stagnate. Companies hire within their industries and patterns start to form with regards to how to work, what to do it, ways to operate, so on and so forth. There is a big shift with larger brands looking to hire outside of their industry. There was an article recently about Tesco who hired a sector-expert, rather than a candidate who had retail knowledge. Bringing in new and different points of views and learnings from other industries is important. 

Having people speak from other industries at conferences like iGB and bringing in fresh ideas from a sector-centric viewpoint, rather than an industry one, is beneficial for everyone. I have come to speak at iGB and share my knowledge and experience in the live events industry, but I have no doubt what so ever, that I will also learn things from the iGaming industry that I can bring to my profession. You can never learn to much, or have too much knowledge. Having people come and speak at events like this from other areas of the business is beneficial to everyone involved.

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