How to win over customers in the age of freebies and discounts.
By Abhishek Joshi
I am a very loyal individual. I am enrolled in loyalty programmes of six hotels, two airlines, two travel aggregators, one e-tailer, and a coalition loyalty programme.
Reads like an existential crisis? Where to go? Whom to oblige? Not really. This is the case with a majority of our middle class (and some of the upper class that likes to call itself middle class) where a greater bang for the buck is really the end game. Oh, and did I mention the wallets? Yes, I also patronise three wallets and a host of other avenues where cashback is the lingua franca.
How to circumvent this problem of plenty and, most importantly, where to build your loyalties in these times of infidelity?
This question plagues the consumer of today who is attuned to instant gratification and expects doles for just existing, as well as businesses that are in the game of wanting to ensure stickiness and incremental repeat behaviour.
This is what consumers are looking for:
Attractive earn rate: If you give me an iPhone worth of points post spending `10 lakh with you, you have lost my attention.
Points that last: Those threefold, fivefold bonus points should last the usual life (three years) of a point and not be a flash in the pan.
Redemption: Don’t give me any block out dates or a clunky web or app experience. Dumb it down instead and make the redemption process easier. Give me more options of vouchers to redeem the points against.
Personalisation: ‘Dear Member’ really reads like ‘Dismember’, seriously! Throw in a name and see the difference. And please don’t ask me to ‘Shop like a queen’ because you think I buy for my wife (or concubines). ‘Shop for your queen’ is more like it. Lastly, any coupon that has even a remote mention of sushi will have me running for cover under a chicken breast. Do category-specific personalisation, too.
Sweepstakes: Apart from points, giving me access to invitation-only events or options to take part in lucky draws could peak my interest.
What businesses running these loyalty programmes want from the consumer include demographics: Guys, girls, parents and their dogs, listen up! If you give me junk, you will get junk. At the bare minimum, please furnish correct details. An email address like firstname.lastname@example.org doesn’t help as the freebies and offers would never reach you, nor does a name like Jesus Christ or Lord Rama help; likewise for your 20-digit phone numbers.
Next, you must earn points across the ecosystem. Redeem. The loyalty points are without any attached strings. Don’t miss the double, triple bonus points opportunities. Don’t just be blue or red or yellow. Be platinum.
When it comes to apps, well, install them! It’s free, fast and rich. An app can place the loyalty programme in your palm. Lastly, the feedback forms, chatbots, etc have been curated for you. Let me know what works and what doesn’t. Pass on both brickbats and bouquets.
How can one attain a perfect or a sustainable balance between the expectations of the customer and the business? The answer is smart, data-driven actionable recommendations using analytics and enablement through technology, such as data management (single customer view), marketing optimisation (response modelling), personalisation (lookalike analysis), real time couponing engine (coupon at POS), engagement through gamification, and web analytics (optimising customers’ online journey).
The author is VP – head of business
intelligence unit, PAYBACK India