Celebrity hairstylist and founder of HNB Salon and Spa, Steph Stevenson says customer loyalty “is no easy feat” but successfully executing a loyalty program revamp can be something your SME may be missing. Stevenson explains to Real Business how.
Convincing customers to continually buy from you and use your services is no easy feat. Thankfully, having a repeatable and predictable strategy that is built to reward clients for their custom, helps. When it comes to loyalty programs, it’s a tale as old as time. Used correctly, loyalty programs encourage repeat purchases and turn first-time customers into brand advocates.
The concept of giving rewards to frequent buyers has been around for more than three decades. But, many businesses are putting a stop to their loyalty programs after not seeing expected success.
This then begs the questions: do loyalty programs really work? What’s their impact on customer engagement?
The answer could be a loyalty program revamp rather than a complete cut and here’s why:
Stand out from competitors
Do some research and look at what your competitors are doing. Are you offering the same perks that your competitors are? If the answer is yes, then chances are a revamp is the best option. Look at introducing creative loyalty programs that offer something different. This could be through collaborating with another company that aligns with your brand to offer unique perks and advantages.
If your competitors don’t currently have a loyalty scheme in place, then this already puts you at an advantage to boost customer engagement and retention right off the bat. Remember, a loyalty program doesn’t have to break the bank, it just has to be an incentive that you know your customers would really value and make them want to come back again, and again.
Partnership trust & encourage repeat purchases
A program revamp will make your customer feel valued and special, especially if they have been loyal customers from the start. They will appreciate the fact that as a business owner you’re thinking of new and exciting ways they’ll be able to benefit from your services. This also makes the experience for the customer more inviting and over time amounts to trust in the partnership between your business and client’s which will quickly boost customer engagement.
Continual positive brand reinforcement
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that life won’t always go to plan. With many businesses forced to shut for the best part of a year and navigate re-opening with numerous rules and restrictions, it has left customers feeling uncertain and apprehensive to spend non-essentially and do business with you, and this still may be the case for some.
By keeping your clients in the loop through email newsletters, your website and social media posts as well as texts (where possible) related to loyalty schemes, you’re constantly reminding your customers of the brand in a positive way. This associated positivity with your brand will boost customer engagement and retention.
Increased cash flow
From a business point of view, loyalty scheme memberships increase the average spend quicker than generating new clients, so keeping them engaged is crucial to a business’s success. The revamp of loyalty programs can also create more cash flow without the marketing spend, which is a huge bonus to a business of any size.
With a successful revamp you’re also much more likely to increase customer referrals, which is one of the best and most authentic ways to increase sales. A positive word of mouth from a customer to their peers is one of the most trusted forms of brand awareness and doesn’t cost a thing! If customers enjoy your loyalty program, they’re also much more likely to talk about it on social media and leave positive reviews which all leads to increased brand exposure and improved SEO / google rankings. Using loyalty programs is a great way to encourage reviews. Members of your loyalty program are the most likely to be willing to leave reviews on your site and act as advocates.
Unique customer insight
Another huge benefit of a loyalty program revamp is the insight it’ll give you on your customers, current and new. Most loyalty programs will require each customer to sign up using their personal information, such as their email etc. in order to keep them up to date on new benefits and rewards. Businesses that are smart will also use these permissions to track their customers journey.
Loyalty programs offer a unique opportunity to gather key information that can be used effectively to increase sales, personalise specific offers to certain customer journeys to offer them relevant and timely offers and enhance customer satisfaction overall.
An extension of the team
Above all else, ensure your clients feel valued and part of a personal organisation, if you treat them like an extension of the team, they’re more likely to resonate with your brand’s key values. There’s no denying that people like to save money where possible, so it makes sense to provide a loyalty program that rewards customers for shopping with you. This is likely to make them feel a valued customer and increases your chances of them coming back and spending more if they are earning their way towards a reward.
Statistics also show a client will spend 20% more on the day if they have a subscription mode, so what’s stopping you?
It’s also important to note, that where possible you should offer benefits and rewards within your loyalty program that are giving your customers added value. After all, if you really want repeat customers and increased engagement, you need to make sure that the deal you’re offering is worthwhile. There are many ways you can do this, as touched upon above but the main way is by leveraging that all important information customers provide when signing up initially. Or if you’re looking to sign up more members, simply chat and get to know the customer when they first do business with you to get an idea of what would benefit them the most. The more you do this, the more you’ll hopefully start to see a pattern of what the majority of your customers desire.
Finally, a loyalty program should always be aligned with your brand, and has to be positioned in a way that meets the customers needs and desires. Make sure you’re taking into account your loyalty programs value by reviewing its cash flow, choice of options, value, relevance and convenience. Most loyalty programs aren’t successful because they don’t offer all five of these elements successfully.