Reinvigorating customer loyalty

Steve Grout, Director of Loyalty
25 June 2019

Organisations always strive for devoted customers and today there is a wealth of tools out there to help brands deliver loyalty programmes. Customers want to feel cherished by their brand of choice, whether that’s a traditional bank, a fintech, travel or retail company. If they begin to feel neglected by a brand and are tempted by others, the consequences can be serious. Worryingly, our globally commissioned research, conducted by Forrester Consulting, revealed that more than half (54%) of businesses do not have a loyalty strategy with clearly defined business objectives and goals. This lack of accurate measurement is particularly concerning, as 65% of decision makers said they were planning to increase their spend in loyalty technology in the near future.

With competition for customers’ hearts and minds increasing, keeping customers loyal is more important now than ever before. There is no question that with a robust strategy, loyalty can be extremely powerful, – organisations simply need to get back to basics to achieve it. The key to success is in relevant, timely and personalised communications.

  • Treat your customer as an individual
    Today’s customers are increasingly inundated with communications; their inboxes are overflowing with e-marketing. Social media also plays a role in brand apathy, with increasingly blurred lines between social and paid content, from companies, influencers and celebrities alike. At the same time, customers are living notoriously busy lives. They don’t have spare hours in the day to filter through the junk.
     
    To cut through the noise and stand out from the crowd, organisations need to capitalise on the time they do have with their customers by showing them that they are more than just a number on a piece of paper. It’s vital for brands to personalise interactions – otherwise communications are more likely to drive customers to a competitor than increase brand loyalty.
     
    It is worth noting, however, that personalisation is never just personalised communications. It’s about the entire experience – not only do customers need personalised communications, but the services, products, offers and rewards presented must feel right for the customer. Today’s customers demand to be treated as individuals, and failure to deliver targeted, personalised experiences may decrease customer loyalty. Our research found that organisations have started to understand this, as 65% of businesses said that delivering more personalised customer experiences is of high priority to them.

  • Use the tools at your fingertips
    Too often, organisations focus on the immediate returns; the quick fixes to please customers. However, there is no immediacy where loyalty is concerned. People don’t suddenly start to feel loyal towards a brand overnight, it takes times and effort.
    Part of the issue is brands’ failure to use their data to understand their customers and why they are loyal. Two thirds (65%) of businesses do not understand why their customers are loyal to their business. On top of that, less than half (49%) collect customer data and augment it with third-party sources to build a clearer picture of customers.

    All organisations, whether traditional players or new entrants to the field, hold some kind of information and data on their customers – the key to maximising this data is educating stakeholders and breaking down silos internally.
     
    Organisations can also look to augment their existing internal data, by combining it with data from regulated third-party organisations, brands to provide the insights they need to deliver a more personalised experience for the customer – the right product recommendations and loyalty initiatives communicated in the right time and place.

  • What does success look like?
    Loyalty initiatives are doomed to fail if you don’t have a clear picture of what you’re trying to achieve. Despite this, almost seven out of 10 (68%) loyalty experts said they do not have a framework in place to measure loyalty in the context of overall business performance. Whilst this may sound surprising, understanding what success looks like for a business as a standalone requirement can often be a challenge – as ‘success’ can often vary wildly by team, department and region. Loyalty is no different, and as various business units can feed into this function, the opportunity for discrepancy in metrics, goals and targets is understandable.
     
    Loyalty needs to be a top-down and company-wide commitment. It must be part of a customer-centric approach and all business units need to be aligned and clear on the strategy to develop deep lasting relationships with customers. This includes creating formalised processes to drive loyalty across company departments. Employing a dedicated resource can be a valuable investment and can visibly demonstrate your company’s commitment to loyalty.

  • Getting back on track
    In a world of constant change, consumers want to be able to rely on their favourite brands. A truly personalised experience is one that delivers individuals not only the information, services and products, but does so at the time and place the customer wants and needs it. Those organisations that do use the tools and data they have available to demonstrate that they understand and value their customer, will be rewarded with greater loyalty.

Download our eBook to discover seven tips for putting loyalty back on track in the travel sector.