In the modern digital age, customers are increasingly expecting seamless, personalised experiences. Customers are also more connected than ever, not just to businesses but also to each other, so how can someone tap into this and build an effective customer loyalty programme that embraces digital, connects companies and customer, and also provides actual value to customers that hopefully breeds brand loyalty?
To build and maintain successful relationships with your customers via a loyalty programme, technology is key to meeting these expectations in this complex environment. However, it is important to use technology responsibly, respecting your customers’ privacy, and using data to enhance, not intrude upon, the customer experience.
With thousands of different software options and different ways of doing this, how do you decide which tools to use, why you need them and what ROI’s would you get if you invested time, resource and money into building a customer loyalty programme?
Building brand loyalty with customers should be a key objective for any business. In the age of social media and digital communication, customers have higher expectations for their experiences with companies.
The foundation, and something that is non-negotiable, has to be delivering excellent customer service – this is the bedrock of building brand loyalty. Contact centres strive to provide efficient, effective, and empathetic customer service. This includes timely response to queries, resolution of problems, and a friendly, professional manner in all interactions.
I am a firm believer that technology is critical to underpinning a successful strategy. Getting the right tools is a minefield but you’ll likely have an ecosystem of technologies already like a CRM, ERP, your social media channels, marketing platforms (potentially automated) and maybe a mobile app. Plus, depending on your industry/ business size or how far into your digital roadmap you are, chatbots and virtual assistants.
Standard practice is to layer data analytics tools over the top to gain insights into customer behaviour and/or preferences then identify areas for improvement. Some companies are beginning to include AI and ML (Machine Learning) can be used to analyse and predict future actions, which can help tailor loyalty programmes to individual customers by segmentation, allowing for more personalised rewards. ML can help predict which customers are at risk of churn, enabling proactive engagement to boost loyalty.
One trend I have noticed so far this year is that organisations are focusing heavily on their entire technology stacks, looking at efficiencies or cost savings but also what value their solutions are bringing to the business. Any solutions linking to a customer loyalty programme shouldn’t be exempt if this is going to be a focus area.
When building a customer loyalty plan and deciding how technology plays a part in it, firstly, ease of access has to be a core part of any thought process. If there is any struggle or confusion on how to access your loyalty programme users will instantly be turned off. Mobile apps especially – make it easy for customers to access their loyalty programme benefits or rewards whenever they want, wherever they are.
Secondly, engagement via social media and other digital platforms provide a space for customers to engage with the company plus each other, building a sense of community.
Lastly, layering elements of personalisation to your plan provide tailored experiences that make customers feel valued.
Technology for these three pieces is readily available and I suspect that your customers would expect a reputable company to have the first two pieces, the third piece will likely come over time as you understand how your customers are using the programme and you look for improvements.
Building a loyalty programme, potentially from scratch, has the obvious potential to pose challenges along the way, but the key issues like real time updates, understanding customer preferences and measuring success can all be tackled, in part, with data & analytics tools.
Integration between the tools and your existing tech stack can also be squashed by automating workflows with automation rules and from a scalability perspective, most if not all solutions are cloud based so providing the programme is a success, this should be a moot point.
Technology is vital as it can ensure consistency in customer interactions across different channels, which is key to a positive customer experience building loyalty. Providing that level of consistency stays, then you can take data Insights to gather valuable insights into customer behaviour and preferences, allowing businesses to continually optimise their loyalty programmes and customer interactions in an agile manner that build long-term success.
Providing your chosen solutions are secure with your customers data and remain compliant then you have scalable solutions in place to support organic and growth targets set by the board or investors.