When we think of loyalty to brands, our minds can quickly turn to those little cards we get stamped when you buy a burrito or a latte.
But what Loyalty marketers do – that is, Loyalty with a Capital L – is different. And it’s important that marketers think beyond the card when it comes to creating this type of Loyalty.
This is quite different to rewarding customers who are regular users of your brand; that's important, but really it's no more than the low-hanging fruit. This is about creating an environment that fosters passion, trust and emotional connection between consumers and your brand. These are the factors that motivate consumers to continue their purchases once they've already converted, and move through the customer lifecycle with you.
While digital platforms change how we think about and address these concepts, one Irish brand is repeatedly top of customer service surveys. The Irish League of Credit Unions has been the top Irish brand for three years according to research carried out by The CX Company – and, according to its head of marketing Emmett Oliver, it is because of a “steadfast commitment to personalised customer care”.
According to the annual report, which is treated as something of a benchmark in the field, credit unions scored highly in “integrity, empathy and for their highly committed staff”.
As Oliver added, credit unions are able to commend Big-L Loyalty because they are able to tailor their customer experience.
“Credit unions offer a good deal of flexibility to provide services that are tailored to the individual needs of members," he said. "Our members have rewarded us with their loyalty and because of this, credit unions have grown and strengthened to become cornerstones of the communities that they serve.”
But experience will count for little if not accompanied by another key factor: trust.
The unique differentiator
Supermarket giant Lidl has gained huge trust in Ireland, growing to become RepTrak’s fifth-ranked brand in 2017. And the formula for developing this trust has been remarkably simple: a predictable and no-frills customer experience. In short, consumers trust that when they shop in the store, they will get products at the cheapest price that Lidl can offer.
Each and every brand needs to find what their niche is, and their unique differentiator to establish brand loyalty.
This means connecting loyalty programs (Little-L) to the overall brand experience (Big-L). When we think of both together, the pizza powerhouse Domino’s comes to mind. The Domino’s brand, as a whole, reflects trust, convenience: speedy service, late night hours, multiple options, affordability and so on.
This is then followed through upon with a Little-L rewards program that offers transactional rewards for its members – often in the form of free pizza, but also with experiential rewards (like stock options) to encourage Big-L Loyalty.
So, what are you driving at? Loyalty, loyalty or both? Do you want customers to just come back or do you want them to connect with your brand on a much deeper level?
What creates the stickiness between you and your customer? Do you have a brand value that people trust? That people react to?
Ask yourself these questions, and you might just find your customers becoming more and more Loyal.