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Starbucks shares insights on customer personalisation and engagement

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Seattle, Washington – Barbara Spiering, Starbucks’ VP of marketing technology & quality engineering, reveals how a measured approach to technology adoption and implementation has led to deeper and more meaningful relationships with its customers.

This ‘human approach’ to the brand experience was outlined by Spiering in the latest instalment of Cheetah Digital’s ‘Signals Executive interview Series.’

In this interview, Spiering highlights four key elements critical to their success with Cheetah Digital’s relationship marketing platform:

1. Don’t Let Tech Take The Wheel

Prioritise technology that enhances customer relationships and enables greater personalisation. Tech should never interrupt the connection between a brand and its customers. Used properly, technology can strengthen relationships across formats, with personalisation as the foundation of all communications. 

“The goal of technology is to create that bridge between the physical and the digital.” Spiering said. “So customers feel as seen and known in all of our digital channels as when they walk into the store, and that it’s a seamless experience.”

2. Personalisation Is Everything

More than 60% of all Starbucks orders are customised to the individual customer. That highlights the need for useful technology that allows Starbucks to keep the personal connection authentic throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

“Customers (need to) feel as seen and known in all of our digital channels as when they walk into the store,” Spiering said. “Because that’s why people come in, they want to be seen and known from the digital, to the physical. We know who you are, and it’s throughout the entire lifecycle. And that is really our goal, to create that connection.”

3. Clean Data > Big Data

Data is only as good as its accuracy. Tech is great at collecting data, but it requires a guiding hand to ensure the data collected is accurate and useful. That means technology partners must share the same vision for executing relationship marketing at the highest level possible. 

“You need to have really strong data governance practices, machine learning at scale,” Spiering said. “If you don’t have clean data, you’re never going to send the right message.”

4. POV Matters

Brands need to stand for something when communicating with customers in order for the message to be authentic. That means developing a point-of-view and ensuring it’s reflected in all customer interactions.

“You need to understand the message that you want to send to your customers and why you want to have that dialogue”, Spiering said. “Because personalisation won’t be effective unless you understand what you want to say and what relationship you want to have. Bring the head with the heart, and that’s your message.”

Emphasising the importance of a well-functioning customer relationship and personalisation strategy, the most recent Cheetah Digital 2022 Digital Consumer Trends Index survey found that 74% of global consumers want brands to treat them as an individual (a 110% increase from 2021), and 71% have a favourite brand as it strives to develop a relationship with its customers. Both are critical factors for brands to consider as the economy points to more challenges ahead.

“As brands move to acquire zero-party data to future proof their advertising and relationship marketing efforts, they can look at Starbucks as the blueprint,” said Wendy Werve, Cheetah Digital’s CMO.

“Our clients are bracing for a potentially turbulent economic landscape ahead by reinforcing their investments in owned channels such as email and SMS. This is where zero-party data and personalisation can impact the bottom line, especially as cookies and third-party data continue to disintegrate,” Werve adds. 

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