“It is a real thrill to have won four New Generation Social & Digital Media Awards for developing an application (app) that uses artificial intelligence (AI),” says Flow Communications chief technology officer Richard Frank.
The four awards won in recognition of the app are part of a set of 11 New Generation Social & Digital Media Awards that Flow Communications walked away with at the awards ceremony, which took place in Johannesburg on the night of Wednesday 27 September 2023.
“AI, used creatively, can be an ideal tool for solving marketing challenges, especially for small businesses wanting to differentiate their offering in a crowded marketplace,” says Richard.
The award-winning app was developed for CarSpa, a car-washing business in Illovo, Johannesburg. It won silver for Best Marketing Automation Campaign and three bronze awards – for Best Use of AI in Marketing by an Agency; Most Innovative App Developed by a Corporate; and Best Low-Budget Campaign.
The app – available on mobile, tablet and desktop – builds customer loyalty by automatically detecting a vehicle’s number plate using number plate recognition algorithms and triggering messages to people who have signed up for a loyalty programme, offering them rewards for repeat visits.
In the four months after its launch, more than 250 customers had registered for the loyalty programme and had received more than 600 loyalty messages via WhatsApp. The top CarSpa loyalty programme member visited the business 39 times, and 32% of the business’s customers were repeat visitors.
Customers are prompted to sign up for the loyalty programme when they first visit CarSpa by scanning a QR code with their smartphones. After a brief registration form is filled out, each customer can opt to join a free loyalty programme or a paid membership programme. They then receive a welcome message via WhatsApp and a reminder of the benefits to be enjoyed as part of the loyalty programme.
Importantly, even if customers do not sign up for the loyalty programme, the AI system keeps records of their visits, giving CarSpa valuable analytics to support its future business decisions, such as the number of visits per day, plus the make and model of visiting vehicles and recognition of its top customers.
“We believe that AI tools merged with human marketing insight is a killer combination. The automation has allowed CarSpa to engage with its customers at the best possible moment – when they are actually using the service. This has definitely encouraged customer loyalty. We’re keen to do more of this type of innovative merging of AI and human marketing insight,” says Richard.