09 Apr

Consumer loyalty – meeting ever-evolving member expectations

Few would argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we interact, the way we work and play… the way we live. Businesses have had to adapt and adapt quickly – and this is largely because they are dealing with a new breed of consumer. The scenario is played out in customer reward and loyalty programmes, a facet of commerce that has been forced to evolve with constantly changing customer needs.

Experts at LoyaltyPlus, the leading independent customer relationship management company, believe businesses can no longer rely on traditional methods to build up and sustain customer loyalty like points-based reward programmes, coupons, discounts, etc.

Dunnhumby.com outlines the challenge put before all businesses. The site references ‘the attention economy’ and the need to be relevant and deliver an experience for the customer that offers lasting value. It also highlights the importance of approach and how organisations that demonstrate loyalty to the customer are at an advantage.

LoyaltyPlus believes this quote from Dunnhumby explains the situation well: “To earn loyalty rather than be given loyalty – to think of loyalty as a relationship earned through ever-relevant shopping experiences, offers and conversations – is an important and powerful distinction.”

To LoyaltyPlus, customer experience is now more important and influential than any other time in history.

Deloitte defines loyalty as “the brand’s ability to be ‘top of mind’ in a customer’s head” – today’s consumers want instant gratification, demand value for money, a sense of purpose and immediate reason as to why they need to invest in a specific brand or service above others.

The company investigates the notion that traditional customer loyalty schemes have become stale and have to be redefined and reinvented. It also explores the statement that customer experience is as valuable as points or financial rewards.

There are many dynamics involved in customer loyalty programmes and providing a winning customer experience, LoyaltyPlus explains, and it is vital that business leaders be cognisant of statistics. For example, according to KPMG, when a customer is loyal to a brand, 86% will recommend a company to friends and family, 66% are likely to write a positive online review and 46% will remain loyal even after a negative experience.

While experts agree that customer loyalty has had to change, that businesses have had to adopt a fresh approach, the main purpose behind these programmes remains customer retention and business, both of which are still linked to profit.

Deloitte research shows that people rate ‘overall experience’ above the average loyalty programmes. It identifies several components that should form part of a programme to ‘capture’ the attention of the fickle, tech-savvy consumer.

These components include personalisation (personalised rewards based on purchase history), relevance (loyalty programmes that speak to people’s current situation and that reflect their lifestyle), and reward based on interaction with a brand and specific preferences.

Digital commerce has revolutionised engagement channels between a business and the consumer. Today, technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning has elevated CRM to a completely new level.

With these channels in place and the opportunity to engage and transact with customers on the fly, businesses have to be on their toes. Ever-evolving expectations have put the ball firmly in the business leader’s court; loyalty will always be there, says LoyaltyPlus, but – like most aspects of life – not the way we have always known.

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