feature

On-demand companies have transformed the way customers engage with brands. There’s no going back—customers now expect their product or service delivered quickly and painlessly. The brands that have succeeded in this space can teach us a great deal about engaging customers in today’s fast-moving, mobile-first world.

To explore what an “on-demand mindset” means for brands today, Braze spoke to five marketing leaders to learn how they’ve succeeded in this difficult space and how all marketers can apply these learnings to their customer interactions.

1. Partnering beats disrupting

Not every brand is Uber. It’s not enough to just show up in a city and begin offering your service. So how does a brand like ParkMobile, which helps customers find and pay for parking spots in crowded cities, break into new cities and expand their customer base?

“We've had to really become not a disruptor in the industry, but a partner to the industry,” says Jeff Perkins, CMO, ParkMobile. “We help cities see that there's a smarter way to do what you're doing with your parking operation.” So for ParkMobile, it’s not about changing or “disrupting” the way a city does its business. It’s about bringing a new solution to a city and justifying the need for this new solution by showing that there’s customer demand for your service.

2. Dealing with two sets of “consumers”

In the on-demand space, there are consumers who are using the app to access a service. But there’s also a whole other set of people who are helping to deliver this service. This is an entirely different relationship that on-demand brands need to nurture in order to sustain their business. But how?

“It's really about building a program that ultimately meets [service providers’] needs,” says Trey Arnold, Strategic Success Manager, Amplitude Analytics. “On the supply side, we look at them not just as contractors but as our partners individually. We do take very seriously filling up the time that they as freelancers wouldn't be able to fill up on their own.”

3. Empowering consumers

For MINDBODY, an app that helps people book yoga and other wellness classes, supply varies. There are of course more yoga studies in a large metropolis like New York City than a small suburb that might have just one studio. So how does MINDBODY make sure business owners are getting the demand they need?

“How the algorithm works is the price is spit out in real time in the MINDBODY app based on a few different factors,” says Keana Noons, Lifecycle Program Manager at MINDBODY. “So, in New York, it could be popularity or time to class or historical data.” But MINDBODY also makes sure their customers, which in this case are studio owners, can adjust the pricing parameter based on their business situation. In short, the algorithm is a guide for maximizing business, but it isn’t the be-all end-all for pricing.

4. Keeping customers engaged outside of the app

Let’s just be honest: Parking isn’t particularly flashy. So how does a brand like ParkMobile keep users engaged through push notifications, even if the service being offered isn’t necessary eye-catching?

“If you're driving from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. and you have the ParkMobile app on your phone, when you enter Washington D.C., we're gonna serve up a push,” says Perkins. “We always look at things as ‘What's going to add value to the journey?’ ‘What's going to help people understand that they can reduce friction in that process?’ That's always kind of our guide.”

5. Always be learning

The on-demand space can be fickle just like any other industry. So all of these brands agreed that understanding customers and how they feel about your app is of the utmost importance. It helps you optimize your brand in a way that expands the user base and drives loyalty.

“Adapt quickly and genuinely care about your users,” says Arnold. “We're no longer in that era where people are standing up and screaming from the rooftops ‘I'm leaving your app!’, right? They’re going to silently slip away. So having the ability to understand what actions impact them leaving you is incredibly powerful in making things right.”

Final Thoughts

Companies in almost every vertical can level up their customer engagement by applying this on-demand mentality. Putting the user’s needs front and center will help your brand stay agile in the face of rising customer expectations.