Redefining Engagement: Solving Customer Retention with Anna Gong

Anna is the CEO and Founder of Perx Technologies, a category-creating Lifestyle Marketing SaaS startup based out of Singapore. With over 20 years of global experience in enterprise software, Anna has held senior leadership positions across startups and global companies. Listed in Singapore Top 100 Women in Tech 2020 and winner of the Singapore Women Entrepreneur Awards 2017, Anna, a TedX speaker, was also featured in the LinkedIn CEO Power Profiles 2017. She is a frequent keynote speaker on leadership, technology, digital transformation and entrepreneurship, for large corporates and global conferences such as C2 Montreal, SaaStock Dublin, InnovFest Unbound, RISE, and European Business Leaders’ Convention. Anna serves as the Chairwoman of SEA Founders Organization, on the Advisory Board of Duke Corporate Education Asia, SE Asia Startup Google Accelerator Program Mentor and is a Board Member at Genius Group. Anna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Anna joined us for a Masterclass on how to solving customer retention challenges in the mobile first economy by redefining engagement. She shared that today's consumers are spoiled for choice and lavished with attention by businesses. But, brands are heading towards unhealthy bottom lines as a result of these cash-fuelled efforts to just retain customers. Read on for more of Anna's advice.

Key Takeaways:
  • Customer retention in the modern, mobile-first economy requires a different engagement strategy, moving away from transient and transactional behaviour.

  • Every touchpoint must build purposeful and meaningful experiences and lasting relationships.

Marketing tactics need to change.

There are over 2 million apps competing for our eyeballs and wallet share. And in each of our mobile phones, we have about 80 apps installed but only nine being used daily.. So marketers and leaders need to ask how do we actually keep top of mind, top of wallet for each of our consumers?

What is happening today is that still most marketers and product owners are only used to sending emails, SMS or different types of social media acquisition campaigns. Unfortunately, 80% of those emails via acquisition campaigns or target campaigns go into spam. And so is it okay for you to continuously spend your marketing dollars on 80% of spam that no customers will actually open frequently or ever open in their spam box? This is one of the conundrums of the market today.

So how do we go beyond that?

That's where you focus on content, business modeling, and a lot more around your technology or products or services. Technology is just the enabler. It's never going to solve your problem. Even if you adopt a CRM, the best CRM is only great because you have a great sales leader or sales team behind it, or a rev ops team that's really managing it with rigor and discipline. So it's not the technology that really makes you whole, it's really the people behind it.

This is where customer experience is the new product.When we look at the dichotomy between traditional loyalty and instant gratification, traditional loyalty is a Ponzi scheme. Why that is the case? Because if you think about any brand that creates a currency of sort, of store value, this is what points are. If you create a store value or currency, and I save and save and save on that store value, and then you expire my currency because I've been dormant, because you have been unable to actually engage me relevantly to redeem my points or to give me an experience to move and feel meaningful to experience those redemption behaviors. So if you think about a bank - if I deposit money into a bank or a savings account, and I've been dormant for two years, do you think a bank would actually expire our savings account? So think about that.

So why would we allow loyalty programs and brands to do that?

Because when they start a loyalty program, it's extremely expensive. It's a huge liability on their books, it's actually a CRM, it's a very expensive ledger. So expensive spreadsheet crunching, earning and burning of points and different types of rewards, arbitrage and expires it so it's very, very undelightful to the customer experience. Think about recently, Uber, right, Uber dominates the whole ride hailing and food delivery segment, and they are now sunsetting their loyalty program, because they can. There's only two large ride-hailing companies in North America. And so they have already informed us that they will sunset this later on this year. And they will now go into the Amazon Prime business model, where I'm going to force you to subscribe to all of these different experiences and privileges. And so you pay $9/month or $10/month to get these types of services. And so that is a very subscription-based profitable business model, because they can. It's become a lifestyle essential of sort for us, because now the brands can, you know, package all sorts of different programs to engage us and make more money. So the rewards management and loyalty has become a huge liability to them, and it's not sustainable, and that's why they're moving away. Revenue per active customer means that you have to engage it and engage your customers relevantly through upsell cross sell methods, and what kind of content experiences that you're driving.

When we look at the history of moving from engagement, and unengaging transient and transactional behavior, brands now create more meaningful relationships. Consumers are driving the corporate strategy. I use this analogy, where the unengaging transient and transactional behavior equates to lazy parents, really, you know, giving so much entitlement to kids, where the easy way out is to give them candy, give them an iPad, or give them some form of a privilege, and that shuts them up. And then they quiet down for a little bit, right? Because you didn't discipline them.

Brands also are doing the same thing by giving these one-off promotions, deep discounts, points, and instantly try to buy their sentiment in that very same space.