Sales & Marketing

How businesses can boost customer experience and drive brand loyalty

7 min read

05 December 2016

For many brands, a great customer experience needs to be delivered seamlessly throughout physical offices or stores, call centres and online, which will ultimately drive loyalty.

When it comes to this, big retailers have traditionally led the field when it comes to creating a fluid, omni-channel customer journey – and aligning that with customer rewards to drive brand loyalty.

Given that 34 per cent of customers’ state that they wouldn’t be loyal to a certain business if it weren’t for that company’s loyalty programme, businesses of all sizes in all sectors can and should seek to emulate the big retailers’ sophisticated approach to drive brand loyalty throughout the customer’s digital journey.

Driving cost efficiencies through online processes without compromising on the end user experience, while at the same time offering a choice of rewards with a high perceived value with ever diminishing loyalty budgets, is key.

There is evidence that marketers are rising to these challenges – 56 per cent of digital experience decision-makers are planning to assess the impact of digital on the customer experience, according to a cross-industry study commissioned by Accenture Interactive.

Marketers face a real challenge in getting their loyalty scheme to stick. The market is saturated with such schemes and customers display little loyalty to brands. Some 60 per cent of shoppers are willing to jump ship to a rival retailer if their preferred method of delivery of loyalty rewards is not available.

An effective approach is multi-faceted and starts with responding to customers’ express desires for instant gratification with mechanisms to drive brand loyalty that delivers quickly and efficiently.

Increasingly, consumers are saying that they do not want to wait to build up points over a long period or wait for vouchers to arrive in the post. They want a reward for their loyalty there and then.

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Personalisation is king

Applying artificial intelligence and data analytics to customer data is no longer the preserve of large retailers –organisations of all sizes and in all sectors, are tapping into data to personalise their offer to individual customers to remain competitive and drive brand loyalty.

For example, a business may wish to incentivise a customer buying mainly from one of its product ranges to either buy more of those products or to buy from another range.

Personalisation of rewards is important or very important to 75 per cent of consumers and yet only 53 per cent of businesses voted branding and personalisation as important or very important.

To align and drive brand loyalty through customer rewards with the digital sales strategy successfully, customer access to rewards must be as smooth as possible and it is essential to remove all potential barriers.

The web interface a customer sees, whether they are buying from the organisation or accessing information about loyalty rewards, should be simple and consistent.

Organisations of all sizes can now achieve this level of seamless customer journey – continue on the next page for five quick tips on how to drive brand loyalty.

Here are five quick tips to address the challenge of creating a fluid digital customer experience that will help to drive brand loyalty:

(1) Segment your customer base closely

The Generation Game is dead in the water – it is no longer enough to just segment your customers by age demographics.

Gone are the days of millennials, baby boomers and Generation Y – now people of all ages are very tech savvy and expect personalised offers. Then provide your customer base with a choice so that they can select a reward that appeals to them, motivating them to remain loyal for longer.

(2) Identify what customer behaviour you are looking to reward

Aligning the customer’s digital journey with loyalty initiatives provides an opportunity to do a lot more than simply cross selling. Brand advocacy is hard to come by – incentivising customers to recommend your brand or refer a friend pays dividends.

(3) Understand your audience

Find out what they want to see in a loyalty scheme and what would motivate them to stay loyal to your brand.

Most customers are saying they want immediate rewards, such as point-of-sale vouchers or email discount codes, but it is a good idea to provide these as part of an incremental reward scheme that provides instant rewards while building longer term digital relationships through points collection, for example.

It is a good idea to link rewards to future purchases or further interactions with the organisation to drive brand loyalty.

(4) Design effective communications to support personalised loyalty schemes

It is no good segmenting the customer base and creating highly tailored loyalty initiatives if you use generic communications to promote them.

(5) Use “pulsing” techniques to continue to measure ongoing levels of customer engagement

Organisations commonly take the pulse of their workforce, asking a few quick questions about how employees are feeling about things.

It is a good idea to use pulsing techniques to check in with customers and clients too. Having set up an initial survey to find out what customers like about your brand, be sure to go back to the same customers and be prepared to adapt based on the feedback you receive.

Organisations need to be fleet of foot, flexible enough to adapt customer propositions on-the-fly to improve average order values, cross sell or improve the lifetime value of customer groups.

Creating a fluid digital experience for customers, with personalised loyalty rewards embedded, will drive measurable results. Improved metrics might include reduced customer churn, higher net promoter scores, increased average order value, and more brand advocacy.

Rewards can form a central part of an organisation’s digital interactions with its clients or customers, keeping the lines of communication open and keeping the customer coming back for more.

Adam Whatling is head of engagement and development at Love2shop Business Services.

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