April 29, 2021

Increasing Patient Engagement and Lowering Medical Non-Adherence Through Digital Experiences

With the US healthcare system under strain like never before, Rajesh Midha, President at Ogilvy Experience and Bottle Rocket, examines how healthcare providers can look towards digital experiences as a way to increase patient engagement, drive down medical non-adherence and improve overall patient outcomes.  

Across the US, medical non-adherence – when patients fail to take prescribed medication – is a growing problem. According to Pharmacy Times, it accounts for 50 percent of all treatment failures, approximately 125,000 deaths per year and up to one quarter of all hospitalizations. The financial cost is staggering, with $300 billion each year dedicated to direct and indirect costs. These costs have continued to grow as we’ve seen an increase in hospital admissions during COVID, putting more strain on a healthcare system already under immense pressure. 

The reasons for medical non-adherence are wide ranging. They include patients simply forgetting to take prescriptions, versus more serious reasons such as mistrust towards health professionals and a lack of understanding about what specific medications do.  However, by identifying different ways to combat these factors, providers have a critical opportunity to boost adherence numbers patient outcomes overall.

Here are some recommendations which healthcare providers can take onboard to improve patient engagement and decrease medical non-adherence. 

The Rise of Digital Front Doors

In the past year, the coronavirus and its associated restrictions have seen people leaving their houses less frequently. This has led to putting off or deprioritizing healthcare needs. To combat unnecessary healthcare issues, and to shift the focus from sick to proactive care, providers and health systems must find new ways to build connections with patients and their families. The importance of digital connection points and communications are of paramount importance to ensure better patient outcomes. Personalized communications can, and will, increase medical adherence. 

One of the simplest and most effective ways to build new communication channels with patients is via mobile. Mobile apps – typically called digital front doors in healthcare – are accessible, and easy to use for different types of patients. These apps allow patients to message health professionals directly when questions or concerns arise and can be enabled with pop up notifications to remind patients to take medication, according to dosage instructions, or order new prescriptions. 

A 2019 review of these technologies and the link with medical adherence concluded that mobile apps “prevent forgetting about medication and incorrect administration and, thus, contribute to patient safety”. It makes the recommendation that in the future, these apps should include “personalization of the personal conditions and posology of the medication the patient takes.” This ultimately would make the experience easier for patients and adds a layer of care only offered through a mobile app. 

From Communication to Education

On average, patients over the age of 65 take four different prescriptions per day. Even taking one pill can be difficult to remember, let alone four, which often must be taken at different times of the day and with food. Add in the fact that older generations are not as tech savvy as digital natives and you can see why non-adherence is soaring, especially in the pandemic era. 

One way to counter this is through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered virtual assistants. These assistants, which can be used to interpret human speech and respond to questions in an automated voice, should be used in conjunction with, rather than a replacement for mobile apps. With over 60 million Americans owning a smart speaker (equivalent to 24 percent of the population), virtual assistants – which can be used on smart speakers, as well as mobile devices – can create deeper and more robust customer data profiles. 

Voice assistants not only provide value and data to health professionals in real-time, they’re also being used by patients to remind them to take (and refill) their medication. Large organizations like Amazon are partnering with smaller, regional pharmacies to offer medication management services, which will set reminders and order refills through a patient’s smart speaker. It’s collaborations like this that can potentially reduce medical non-adherence, especially among older generations.

A Booming Industry 

The US telehealth industry grew on average 14.6 percent per year between 2016 and 2021. This is expected to continue, with the industry currently valued at approximately $3.5 billion. With behavior shifting during the pandemic, there’s an argument to suggest that these trends are now our new normal and that patients may continue to be more hesitant than before to visit their doctors, or even go to a pharmacy to collect their regular medication.

As we’ve seen, this is where simple innovations such as voice assistants and mobile apps come into play. They address the soaring rates of medical non-adherence, protect the health of patients virtually, and ensure providers’ resources are leveraged efficiently. With an incredibly challenging year behind us, this is the time to address key learnings to make sure our health sector comes away stronger.

This article was published on HealthCareBusinessToday.com

March 29, 2021

Strategies Grocers Can Use to Tempt Customers Back to In-Store Shopping in 2021

With consumer behavior changing almost immeasurably over the past year, grocers must now think outside the box to keep and increase customer loyalty.

As we progress into the second year of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), with restrictions and lockdowns still in force around the world, many businesses are still trying to figure out how best to adapt to the changing environment. With numerous vaccines being deployed, there’s light at the end of the tunnel; however, questions remain as to whether life will ever really go back to how it was.

One sector that has managed to ride the wave during the pandemic (so far) is the grocery industry. Americans have been forced to cut back on dining out, which has led to over half (55%) choosing to eat at home more frequently. This shift in behavior has presented a huge opportunity not only to grocers, which have benefitted from market growth by as much as 10% in 2020, but also meal preparation companies, which according to the Wall Street Journal, increased its user base to 376,000 in Q1 of 2020.

As restaurateurs begin planning for a new future, and grocers look ahead to the next 6-12 months, which strategies should this sector be considering to ensure they resonate with post-pandemic customers in the years ahead? Here are a few suggestions.

The time for technology in store is now

According to McKinsey, prior to COVID-19 almost all (98%) of U.S. grocery sales were conducted in-store. But, as customers made the shift at scale to online shopping, grocers are now looking to determine if these hesitant shoppers will ever switch back to in-store shopping.

Many grocers have already adapted to serve the needs of these shoppers by introducing or expanding curbside pickup options. But, now with competition from newer entrants heating up, grocers will need to keep up if there’s ever a chance at bringing back in-store shopping, as safety will continue to be a concern for some time to come. With a duty to safeguard customers in the COVID-19 age, legacy grocers should feel confident pressing ahead with digital investments that eliminate interactions with staff or other shoppers, which previously might have been challenging to justify.

Kroger, for example, is testing a new smart cart that allows customers to scan items as they shop, therefore skipping the queue. By cutting out minutes from the shopping journey and returning control to shoppers when they may feel out of their depth, it’s hoped this will keep customers engaged while not having to sacrifice the enjoyable aspects of browsing.

Similar technology has been added to Giant Eagle stores, allowing customers who simply download the “Scan Pay & Go” app onto their smartphone to scan items as they put them into their shopping cart. Giant Eagle has taken this a step further, and streamlined the process for speedy shoppers, by adding check-out lanes dedicated entirely to those customers using the Scan Pay & Go lane, further minimizing contact. This company is also leveraging inventory robots to ensure restocking happens quickly and efficiently while also eliminating the need for additional workers among the aisles with shoppers.

Think outside the box

More people working-from-home (possibly for good) has signalled a shift away from the dreaded weekend grocery shop. According to Instacart order data, there has been an inevitable switch from weekend to weekday shopping, with as many as a quarter (22%) of shoppers making the change this year.  

It’s not just when customers visit the stores that’s changed, but also how frequently. With people unable to visit restaurants and mealtime becoming a heavier lift with more cooking, shoppers are upping their spend in an attempt to try new things, while also stocking up on essentials due to the uncertainty of supply. Data from Forbes revealed that in March 2020, the average American household spent $525 per month on groceries, up 30% from March 2019.

With customers experimenting with different ingredients, grocers should consider expanding their product lines and supplementary meal bundles or recipe ideas to keep up with changing customer behaviors. The customer is still king, therefore grocers should be using the pandemic as an opportunity to experiment with new ideas and expand their footprint within these customers’ lives.

Simply having an app isn’t enough

In today’s market, when you factor in the uncertainty of how consumers will continue to react to COVID-19, retailers must go the extra mile to engage with customers and earn their loyalty. This is especially true for connected customers, which today is pretty much everyone. Connected customers are those, who even pre-pandemic, interacted daily with brands through digital means and expected them to be available to them when and how they wanted. This new norm represents an era of digitally-empowered customers that expect any brand to offer them digital connection points and continuous innovation on a regular basis.

While having an app that allows your customers to interact with your brand was once seen as innovative, now, it’s simply table stakes. Today the focus should turn to continuous innovation and constant iteration to keep up with customer expectations. No longer is it enough to compete within your industry, but grocers, and businesses in every industry, must pay attention to digital innovations and leaders across the board. The Ubers, Netflix and Amazons of the world have trained us be digital first.  Loyalty must be earned by constantly winning with customers and offering them innovations and conveniences that can’t be found elsewhere. Because if they are available elsewhere, your customers will follow.

The future of grocery

With consumer behavior changing almost immeasurably over the past year, grocers must now think outside the box to keep and increase customer loyalty. By creating data-driven digital touchpoints and personalizing the shopping experience both in store and out of store, grocers can ensure that they are staying relevant in their customers’ lives and hopefully maintain their presence in our new worlds even after restaurants open their doors once again.

This article was originally published on FoodLogistics.com

March 19, 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Personalization for Restaurants

It used to be that all restaurants needed to attract customers was a catchy jingle, a memorable mascot, and a signature menu item. While a strong brand identity is still important, it’s not enough in 2021. Today’s customers want to do business with companies that understand them as individuals.

According to Accenture, 91% of customers are more likely to frequent businesses that personalize their experience. That can be by recognizing them as a returning customer or providing offers and recommendations based on previous purchases.

Personalization is the key to cross-selling and providing excellent customer experiences, and with 87% of restaurant customers planning to continue with mobile and online ordering even after the pandemic, the need for personalization isn’t going away. To offer the personalized service today’s customers expect, restaurants must adopt technology that illuminates individual customer preferences.

Are you looking to enhance retention, engagement and conversion through personalization?

Join us and our friends at Amplitude on April 22 to hear how other leading restaurants are using personalization in their businesses.

March 16, 2021

How travel brands are using Apple’s App Clip to drive engagement, touchless experiences

Travel providers have been examining ways to make the traveler journey friction-free long before anyone heard the word “coronavirus.” But across all sectors of the industry, contactless solutions have gone from a “nice-to-have” to “need-to-have” as travel brands contend with evolving traveler expectations.

One new solution at travel providers’ disposal is Apple’s App Clip, which allows users to experience a small part of a brand’s app without having to fully download the application.

App Clips, which were released as part of Apple’s iOS 14, are designed to be used in the moment – for example, to order food – and allow users to complete an entire task or transaction in seconds. Users discover App Clips via Safari, Maps or Messages or in the real world through NFC tags, QR codes or App Clip Codes, which are unique markers that take users to specific App Clips.

If users scan a QR code for a tour, for example, they’ll see an App Clip pop up that will let them immediately pay for the experience through Apple Pay. Once the transaction is completed, the App Clip disappears, or brands can offer users the opportunity to download their full app.

“The pandemic era has accelerated already-rising trends: app overload, privacy transparency and instant/zero-touch experiences,” says Tal Raviv, product manager at marketing analytics platform AppsFlyer. “App Clips is the well-timed culmination of these trends.”

Raviv says a good way for travel brands to think about App Clips is to ask: Where do we lean heavily on mobile web?

“App Clips combine the availability of mobile web with the richness of native iOS app experiences. When you think about it that way, it’s less about the sector of travel, and more about the context and use case. Brands should consider what the quick-value moments are that provide an excellent opportunity for a native mobile experience to shine - way above what mobile web can offer,” he says.

“Travel is an ideal context for App Clips, because there’s so many rich mobile experiences available. On the other hand, a lot of the value doesn’t neatly fit into people’s long-term routine, the way messaging or finance apps do. App Clips liberate this value from being stuck behind an app download - and allows travelers to instantly get some of the value they would get from the full app.”

Although current usage in travel is relatively nascent, several brands have introduced App Clips as a way to provide a frictionless experience for travelers as well as increase customer engagement.


In February, travel e-commerce platform KKday became the first tourism operator in Greater China to introduce an App Clip experience.

With KKday’s App Clip, travelers in Taipei visiting attractions including the Taipei Children’s Amusement Park, Maokong Gondola and Taipei Arena Ice Land can scan an App Clip Code with their iPhone to quickly and seamlessly purchase a ticket.Brands should consider what the quick-value moments are that provide an excellent opportunity for a native mobile experience to shine - way above what mobile web can offer.Tal Raviv - AppsFlyerShare this quote

After completing the ticket purchase, visitors will immediately receive the QR code of the electronic voucher and can enter the venue by validating the voucher at the entrance using their phone.

KKday CFO Victor Tseng says that while over 50% of KKday’s users are using KKday’s app, there is still a subset of users booking through web browsers or other methods.

“There are so many new users out there that have not discovered us,” he says. “The App Clip is a supplement to these kinds of users out there to be able to discover these products that KKday has digitized in a more frictionless way.”

App Clips, Tseng continues, help create a “holistic, touchless experience” - critical in COVID times - without users having to take up time and space on their mobile installing a full app. “It's very frictionless, very digitized and very fitting in light of COVID and social distancing.”

KKday has also partnered with Taipei Metro to provide a NT$50 discount to consumers who pay for experiences at Taipei Children’s Amusement Park, Maokong Gondola and Taipei Arena Ice Land with Visa cards through Apple Pay.

One month since launch, App Clips have seen “pretty good” traction, Tseng says, and KKday plans to work with more vendors in Taipei to implement the solution.

Caesars Entertainment

In Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment is the first hospitality company on the Strip to utilize Apple’s App Clip solution.

Developed by digital experience company Bottle Rocket, Caesars' App Clip allows on-site guests to locate their hotel room and book restaurant reservations without having to download the Caesars Rewards mobile app.

The App Clip also leverages push notifications from Caesars’ engagement partner, Airship.

Launched in 2020, the App Clips are accessible via QR codes. Currently, the Find My Room App Clip – which provides guests with step-by-step directions to find their rooms or points of interest at Caesars properties - is available at all of Caesars’ Las Vegas Resorts, and the Book Restaurant App Clip has launched at several properties.

“Caesars Entertainment’s App Clips highlight two key features of the Caesars Rewards mobile app that guests can use quickly and conveniently without the full app installed,” says Terry Chi, director of mobile and digital innovation for Caesars Entertainment.

“For a non-app user, these App Clips allow the guest to discover some of the useful features of the Caesars Rewards mobile app, thereby encouraging a full app download later. For a current app user, it saves the guest some steps in populating information when using the Book Restaurant App Clip.”

Chi says that from a marketing perspective, the obstacle in being first-to-market with the App Clip solution is that many people don’t fully understand what an App Clip is or does. “It will take time and education to get mass adoption,” she says.

That said, so far, engagement with Caesars’ App Clips “has surpassed all expectations.”

Expedia Group

Online travel agencies are experimenting with App Clips, as well. In September, Expedia Group-owned Hotwire.com launched an App Clip that provides hotel information including ratings and a way for users to book with one tap via Apple Pay.

The App Clip, along with a new Hotwire deals widget, will help customers save an average of 52% on last-minute accommodation bookings when compared to the listed rate two weeks prior, the company says.

Although Expedia Group is in the early stages of the launch, the company says the experience has been positive and it is continuing to adapt the app to customer feedback.

“Early signs show that, we have seen Hotwire customers re-engage a lot more when they use our app. Loyalty is higher for app users and users like to explore more app-specific features like reviews and mobile-only deals,” the company says in a statement.

“We wanted to create something that would help customers get a taste of the app experience in the App Clip so that they can transition over to the app from mobile web to get these benefits.”

Ultimately, says AppsFlyer’s Raviv, it’s all about lowering the “install barrier,” which “dramatically expands the situations where a brand’s app can offer value,” he says.

“While this will definitely result in more full app installs downstream, the underlying goal is engagement and value. Brands that thoughtfully leverage App Clips are going to have a lot of opportunity to increase engagement and value, whether it takes place in the App Clip or the full app.”

This article was published on PhocusWire.com

March 11, 2021

Retaining the divided attention of post-COVID QSR customers

Quick Service Restaurants face an uncertain future. Here’s how they can win in a digital marketplace with customers staying at home.

With the pandemic altering the definition of “normal” across industries, Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) have been amongst the fortunate few able to stay afloat.

While foot traffic to fast food and casual dining settings has fallen 45 per cent and 67 per cent respectively, QSR establishments have scaled inherent delivery and pick-up capabilities to serve those customers still looking for a quick and easy bite. Yet, restaurants are now contending with new and unpredictable trends that will put this resilience to the ultimate test.

QSRs in Canada have witnessed business drop by at least one-third since the pandemic hit, for a multitude of reasons.

While at home, customers are cooking more and taking the opportunity to discover and order food from new restaurants that they wouldn’t normally look to. Within this new dynamic, however, people are naturally spending more time weighing options and spending 31 per cent more time per session. It’s becoming considerably more challenging to capture the wallet share of the connected customer, who has grown accustomed to third-party ordering platforms like DoorDash and GrubHub.

Customers are increasingly loyal to platforms rather than QSR brands themselves. On top of this, restaurants have found themselves battling against a new competitor: meal kit subscriptions. Discouraged from visiting restaurants, customers’ interest in preparing healthier meals with ingredients that have been picked out and sent to them is on the rise. HelloFresh is evidence of this, having grown its customer base in Canada by 74 per cent by the second quarter compared to the same period in 2019. On top of these factors, 31 per cent of Canadians indicate they want to reduce spending on takeout and accordingly are more reliant on spending on grocery, a traditional competitor to the QSR.

So what if customers never want to eat out again? This isn’t going to happen but it’s important to consider that post-pandemic user behaviour will likely not be the same as pre-pandemic behaviour. QSR operators have to accept the fact that digitally-enabled delivery options are no longer enough to secure tomorrow’s customer. Domino’s calling itself a tech company is truer than ever. In the future, QSRs will not only need to provide a great product but also a great experience with the product. Restaurants must master digital engagement and offer customers incentives to keep them coming back again and again.

What do QSR customers respond well to?

There are no two ways about it – restaurants have had to adopt digital tools to keep connected with their customers. Simply put, brands that have made the ordering experience seamless and accurate are more likely to retain their customers digitally, as they’ve successfully showcased what they have to offer. Yet, the battle for initial wallet share can only truly be won by incentivizing spend with exclusive rewards. This incentivization can occur via owned channels or through third parties.

For fast-food drive-thrus and other QSR operations, repeat business is critical for longevity and continued growth. Loyalty programs are a proven way to encourage customers to try something new, but it’s not as simple as printing out loyalty stamp cards anymore. Brands that implement gamification through tailored rewards and points will give a customer base all the more reason to keep coming back, enhancing customer lifetime value across channels in the process.

In the most recent quarter, Taco Bell, Starbucks, and Chipotle all saw their digital sales grow by record loyalty program participation, as they actively educate new users on what’s available to them. While some customers prefer ordering directly through the restaurant’s website or app, others still prefer drive-thru and more are discovering how easy curbside is. The one constant is choice. Customers who used loyalty programs spent more than double on takeout in 2020 compared to those who didn’t, making it clear that well-executed loyalty schemes end up paying for themselves.

Why should brands make digital a part of their core DNA?

Whether it’s an independent business or national chain, customers expect end-to-end experiences that deliver, as well as delight. Let’s face it: these experiences are expensive to deliver and maintain. No longer is success defined solely by product innovation. Instead, a QSR must recognize how long-term investment in digital capabilities and iterative improvements are the new source of competitive advantage. Customers won’t be willing to sacrifice the convenience afforded by best-in-class apps and sites, placing pressure on QSRs to continuously innovate the mobile experience. Look no further than Chipotle and Shake Shack as examples of QSRs that have effectively embraced digital end-to-end.

Yes, drive-thru has dominated ordering for some time, and some will still choose drive-thru over other channels as they believe it’s faster. This is a situation where education can help alleviate operational bottlenecks. If a drive-thru line extends far beyond the point of ordering during peak periods, brands should consider how they can use this time to educate customers. Moving forward, for their next order, how might you increase the likelihood they use a digital or curbside rather than drive-thru?

This drives two aims at the same time. Firstly, they can reduce the queue length, thus increasing consideration for those who may think “the drive-thru line is too long”. Secondly, increasing adoption of a digital solution is something every QSR large and small needs to focus on. It’s time QSRs start recalibrating drive-thru and looking at it as an entryway into the business rather than a long-term channel.

All of these efforts are intended to reduce the friction a consumer experiences, regardless of the channel they order on. QSRs are experimenting with even more choice by deploying text-to-order – an effective way to start a relationship that can ultimately lead to app downloads and loyalty enrolment. Five Guys is leading the charge, prompting customers to text a keyword to a short number, to which they’ll receive a list of menu options and can reply with an order. The brand takes this a step further by allowing users to save their favourite orders for faster future service. The ability to add specific details to orders, and avoid sign-up flow that typically elongates first-time web experience, means text-to-order holds massive potential as a conversion tool.

This should be considered as a transitional experience, funnelling new users into richer, more meaningful experiences and diverting them to the app. Here, customers can manage their loyalty points and access rewards (a full-circle moment from the initial incentivization), make easy mobile payments, and be exposed to a broader menu. Brands then ultimately reap the data-driven benefits. Leveraging apps gives restaurants the power to recognize loyal customers instantly, track their behaviour, analyze preferences and reach them directly, with notifications doing most of the heavy lifting to pique regular customer interest. Don’t assume an organization will be able to action this data – the ability to do so requires constant focus on how customers are experiencing your brand.

Navigating the now and future

The easing of lockdown restrictions and gradual increase in capacity of QSRs won’t mean business as usual in 2021. Limited seating will be the new safety norm. Customers will look different, with many never setting foot in your physical location. So long as QSRs stay focused on customer-centric innovation at every touchpoint of the ordering journey, they will thrive. The expectation for rewards will not falter, so long as competition remains high. Restaurants will need to lock in loyalty with the most seamless, simple mobile ordering experience, underpinned by data-backed personalization.

This article was originally published on RestoBiz.ca

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