Customer loyalty programmes can shape a customer’s journey and build consumer trust. Done well, they can drive repeat sales, increase positive word-of-mouth, and help build brand loyalty.
But customer loyalty programmes aren’t what they once were. The digital era has seen a change in customer behaviours and expectations that brands have to keep up with. It is no longer enough to offer static points or rewards in exchange for customer loyalty. Brands need to develop much stronger, connected and personalised experiences with and for their customers.
In rethinking loyalty, there are a number of trends that, although not new, are more relevant than ever before for brands to consider and ensure the effectiveness of their programmes.
According to Segment, 71% of consumers are frustrated when a shopping experience isn’t personal. Personalisation is one of the best ways to hook a customer and build loyalty. But good personalisation requires accurate, reliable data.
Advances in data collection and processing methods will see a rise in personalisation pushes, allowing brands to build their loyalty programmes around meaningful data. This will, in turn, allow brands to build loyalty programmes that deliver bespoke, personalised experiences, communications, and offers at scale.
The accelerated adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques not only as part of a company’s big data technology stack, but also by CRM and loyalty applications like Salesforce’s Service Cloud and Loyalty Management, will also have a significant impact on how brands design their loyalty programmes. Techniques and algorithms that enable companies to predict, recommend and/or respond in near real-time help brands build deeper, personalised emotional connections with their customers, whilst increasing their lifetime value.
Touchpoints are interactions between customers and brands that occur throughout the customer’s journey regardless of channel. They play a major part in influencing the customer experience as well as a business’ brand perception.
Brands that are able to get a unified view of the different touchpoints of each customer, across all available offline and online channels, can capitalise on timely opportunities to optimise their journey. More importantly they can incorporate their learnings into their loyalty programmes, continuously improving their customers’ experiences.
Increasingly customers buy experiences, not products, however creating compelling customer experiences can be an expensive endeavour that Covid-stricken and/or small businesses might not be able to afford. Developing strategic partnerships with other ‘like-minded’ brands helps create richer customer experiences.
As brands band together to create a customer-focused ecosystem, are able to provide more options and benefits to their customers, minimising the risk of losing them to competition. And, perhaps of equal importance, they can do so without blowing their budgets.
Rise of digital and social shopping
Covid-19 drastically changed the way we live and shop. 2020 alone saw a 43% rise in people shopping online with no signs of slowing down. Brands that offer customer loyalty programmes will need to adjust their strategies accordingly.
This doesn’t mean that in-store experiences are not relevant anymore. On the contrary. It does mean however that businesses will need to make sure they offer their customers the freedom to use their loyalty programmes across all available channels, in a seamless and cohesive manner. Here too, real-time is an important factor for success. Customer data (including their loyalty account data) from their engagement across channels, need to be up-to-date and available in real-time.
Without automation, it would simply be impossible to successfully run loyalty programmes that leverage such trends to enhance customer spent and retention.
Fortunately, technological advances have become an integral part of modern marketing tools, allowing businesses to increase sales, whilst building one-to-one relationships with their customers at scale.
Tools like Salesforce’s Loyalty Management can help deliver more dynamic and personal loyalty experiences for customers by removing silos and connecting member data across multiple systems. With intelligent design, such applications offer businesses the power to manage their loyalty programmes without over-extending themselves with manual tasks.
(Re)building customer loyalty
Customer loyalty isn’t something to be taken lightly.
Companies like Amazon have changed the game when it comes to serving customers. Loyalty programme members now demand that you know them, respond quickly, be where they want you to be, tell them what you stand for, value their privacy, and reward their loyalty.
When it comes to these member expectations, you have to have a solid strategy for meeting and exceeding them. It is no use saying, “Well, we’re not Amazon”. If you are offering less than your competitors, then you are going to lose customers.
Other useful links: