Creating and maintaining customer loyalty is a long journey. To succeed, loyalty marketers must outline a strategy of how they can build, maintain, and power lifetime connections over the course of their customer’s lifecycle. We have pinpointed three vital stages required in powering lifetime connections. Over the course of the next three articles we will explore these stages:
Stage I: Getting to know your customer
Stage II: Creating a plan for ongoing dialogue
Stage III: Adjusting your communications along the journey
Getting to know your customer
During the first 90–120 days following programme enrollment, loyalty marketers need to get to know their customers and keep them engaged. Connections are no longer just based on behaviors. Emotions are an integral component to powering connections, helping to sustain lifetime loyalty. The first impression forms the foundation of the relationship between consumer and brand, so make it count.
To truly get to know your customer, consider implementing these tactics and strategies:
Make it personal – ensure you are able to identify individual members whenever and wherever they interact with your brand. Whether the interaction takes place online or offline, you need to be there, to identify your customers' needs and observe their behaviours in order to fulfil on and exceed their expectations.
Train your associates and provide them with the tools, technology, and techniques to get to know your customers. Social chats, customer service calls, follow-up policies, and anniversary ‘thank you’ gifts to surprise and delight members will create new ways for you to glean insights. The data created from these interactions should then be integrated into your programme data. This observational data is key to building the emotional component of powering connections.
Develop a communication plan, and put it to the test. Learn your customers’ preferred method of communication, whether it be email, mobile app or text message, and continue to make ongoing changes and improvements to ensure you’re meeting their needs.
Establish a data baseline
The availability of collectable customer data varies from industry to industry. For example, many quick-service restaurants capture diners’ email and phone number, while travel and hospitality brands are able to capture additional data points like mailing addresses. Loyalty marketers need to establish a data baseline that is continually augmented with new data. (i.e., capture additional data from surveys, apply analytics, modelling).
Reach out and communicate with your customers during this initial period in ways that will engage them with your brand and loyalty programme. Simple examples are sending out a welcome email to new customers, taking the opportunity to reinforce membership benefits. Or encourage them to download your mobile app and offer a bonus if they fill out a survey and provide more information on their preferences. Offering bonus points on their next transaction is another great way to elicit that next purchase and remind them of membership benefits.
Keep them interested
Additionally, gamification techniques can be a fun, useful way to interact with customers during this initial period, and these techniques don’t have to involve financial incentives. Create challenges that reward members with badges for completing tasks, such as using the mobile app, completing a survey or visiting multiple stores. Encourage members to compete with each other by publishing their accomplishments on a leaderboard. Offer the winner an experiential opportunity beyond a traditional reward. For example, if you’re a retailer, offer the customer an hour with a personalised shopping assistant with lunch included. Experiences such as these will strengthen brand loyalty.
Remember, relationships change over time. Being able to identify when you need to reach out and engage with a consumer can make a difference between maintaining a loyal relationship or letting one wain.
Now that you know your customer it’s time to engage them with great conversation. Our next instalment, Stage II: Creating a plan for ongoing dialogue, will publish on the Epsilon blog soon.