How to drive and retain customer loyalty

From customer experience to data-driven engagement, brands need to up their game to retain the loyalty of their customers

Top 5 trends in customer loyalty space
Customer loyalty space is extremely dynamic with new, disruptive trends coming up every day

By Jeevan Chowdary

In today’s hyper-competitive world, quality and price may not always guarantee customer loyalty. Given there are hundreds of brands offering similar products/services at similar price points, attracting and retaining customers for the long term is no easy task. The road to a customer’s heart is not smooth and it definitely requires more than a simple television commercial (TVC) to create a stir. This is perhaps why the current customer loyalty space is so dynamic with new, disruptive trends coming up every day. Here are some of the trends that are driving customer loyalty.

Delivering great customer experience with personalised rewards

It is all about personalisation. If you expect loyalty, you must aim at tailoring and personalising the customer experience one receives while associating with your brand. When customer experience becomes the differentiating factor over the product itself, it’s a win for your brand. However, that tailoring the experience part doesn’t come without investment. According to Gartner’s research, the first step towards this path begins with knowing your customers’ preferences. Having access to structured and relevant customer data, therefore, becomes crucial for adding a personalised touch. But, you also need to take the descriptive data and turn it into prescriptive actions. Taking inputs from customer feedback is another way to recognise their needs and wants. The psychology behind reward and loyalty programs attempt to reinforce a spending behaviour. And, when that reward is personalised nothing beats that as it is the route to earning trust and confidence, which in turn leads to repeat business, brand loyalty and brand advocacy.

Omnichannel customer engagement and rewarding

In this digital era, customers have a lot of information at the tip of their fingers. They engage across various platforms and expect easy access to their favourite brands on every platform. Brands need to realise this and leverage multiple channels like the app, in-store, website and social media to create an immersive and uninterrupted experience. This trend is likely to gain good traction with the launch of faster connectivity options like 5G and the large scale adoption of IoT devices. Hence, taking an omnichannel strategy is not an option but a prerequisite. However, this is not to say that offline presence doesn’t hold value. The best way to take things forward is to supplement your brand’s digital presence.

Data-driven engagement

Data-driven engagement is and will be the best way to aim at customer retention. With advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence and data analytics, you can get the 360-degree view of your customers – When and how often they make a purchase, what are the frequently bought items or services, average spending, etc. This data can provide valuable feedback and serve as a springboard for new concepts and idea. Based on this, you can then recognise what kind of rewards they are more likely to be interested in. However, collecting and organising actionable customer data is a full-time job, and one that isn’t very forgiving of mistakes. As such, investing in a high-quality customer relationship management (CRM) tool is a must to take customer satisfaction to the next level and prove to your clients that you care about their satisfaction.

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Gamification for enhanced engagement

With the advances in targeted advertisements, immense competition and increased ‘choices’ for customers, companies must rethink their approach to loyalty programs. By gamifying interactions with customers, businesses can motivate shoppers to indulge their competitive instincts and increase engagement with the brand. This can be achieved by improving customer interaction endpoints. The value of gamification goes beyond a financial payoff, turning a dull chore into a fun activity for your consumers. A recent survey revealed that 87% of North American retailers are planning to use gamification to engage customers in the next five years. Whereas, 70% of the top 2000 companies are using it right now. Gamification is effective as it incentivises consumers to perform certain actions by appealing to their competitive nature or a social element such as badges, leader boards or communities. The idea of status-based motivation is one of the key mechanics behind gamification. In addition to points for purchase, providing users with a sense of achievement while having fun and staying engaged for longer stretches of time provides real retention benefits. Gamification taps into both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, which work together to persuade users to increase the frequency of engagement with your brand.

Relevant rewards with brand partnerships

What’s the value of sending a coupon for a non-veg buffet to a vegetarian customer? Zero. Sending the right offer to the right customer at the right time is crucial in building your brand loyalty. Since most of the customers look for multi/cross-functional benefits, they only buy what they need. Likewise, they are more inclined towards brands that offer rewards that are relevant and completely beneficial to them. The icing on the cake can be brand partnerships where customers will have the flexibility in using the rewards on brands too. Having a diverse portfolio of rewards is also the key driver of member satisfaction. You can build on another brand’s success and garner more profits while simultaneously creating awareness of both the brands.

When a customer is loyal to a brand they, aren’t easily swayed by other parameters like price and availability. One of the factors that drive such loyalty is when customers feel rewarded during every single purchase. While it’s easier said than done, playing your cards right will help you create strong brand loyalty that doesn’t fade with time.

The author is founder and CEO of Froogal.

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