01 Oct

Reimagining customer loyalty in a digital world

Most of a company’s business comes from existing customers. Keeping those customers loyal to the brand at a time when there are so many alternatives to choose from is something every organisation is struggling with. Considering that 80% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience, it seems that the solution is staring business leaders in the face. However, creating this loyalty through improved experiences in a digital world requires a different approach than before.

“While it is easy to write off rewards programmes as something to be used for short-term promotional giveaways or monthly specials, their potential to revitalise the customer experience is significant. Much of how these initiatives are positioned comes down to whether the company approaches them as rewards or loyalty programmes,” says Nic Roets, International consultant at customer loyalty specialists, LoyaltyPlus.

In the case of the former, it is about creating value by motivating customers to try a product or service. Yes, this is important, but there is very little longevity associated with that. To really unlock the growth potential of a customer base, the business must identify how to give the best value possible to its best customers. And this is where loyalty comes in.

“Not all customers are created equal. Some use a myriad of store programmes to ‘chase the special’ and are not brand loyal at all. Others exclusively purchase certain brands but are often disappointed that their loyalty is not rewarded in more innovative ways than a discount or something similar. These customers are not influenced by pricing. Instead, they want a personal service that reflects how the brand values their business and approaches them on an individual level,” adds Roets.

For instance, fostering loyalty amongst high value clientele is not done by pushing promotions, but rather in creating intimacy with them and building brand ambassadors. Getting customers to engage with the brand is therefore more important than to simply buy its products. It is through this engagement that the company can gather data and build insights into the individual customers themselves.

The rapid push towards online channels over the past 18 months have shown brands the benefits that continuous customer engagement can have. Fundamentally, it helps shape strategy and makes the business more agile. While some are turning to incentivising their customers to generate content around their products and services, the real value comes from how they can leverage data to deliver on the enhancements customers are really looking for.

Invariably, those loyalty programmes that are the most successful are built around the value they provide and connecting with customers on a deeper level. Beyond the experience, this talks to how the brand is giving back to the community and whether there are charitable donations and choices of welfare or charity programmes taking place.

“Regardless of how this is approached, brands must realise that they can no longer afford to have loyalty programmes that are not integrated into the broader business strategy. Engendering loyalty requires the programme to become part of a brands’ operational policies and not be bolted on as an afterthought to simply give discount on products,” concludes Roets.

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