Never before has customer loyalty been more important to clients. Sarah Cross, MD of specialist loyalty and CRM consultancy uber, offers her top tips to keeping your customers on your side.
1) Data – don’t just collect it, use it!
Don’t be under any illusions about why you should have a loyalty programme. Loyalty is not and never should be about simply keeping up with competitors or about a quick sales fix or indeed just because you think you should!
The Holy Grail is quality data, and more importantly what you do with that data! You need to establish what’s going to help you get to know your customers better? How much data should you ask for and what first? Depending on your sector the answers to the above will differ, but no matter what sector you’re in, there are some fundamental rules.
The basics centre on a principle of give and take. Your customers won’t mind giving you their basic contact details if they know that’s how you’re going to connect with them give them value, offers and rewards, and they are confident of how you’re going use the data. It’s imperative that you get up to speed with the latest data protection rules around opt in. We’ve seen some of the best response rates from mobile usage, providing it’s done in the right way. Think about the contact details being the frame of your customers painting ( profile ) it takes time to complete the picture so decide what’s important and get to know your customer. Over time, transactional data becomes vital and helps you understand what, when, and how are you customers are motivated to engage / purchase from you. Use this data to make the customer experience slick as well as cross selling where relevant.
2) Individuals – treat them how you’d want to be treated
Sounds simple but so many brands don’t think about their customers in a “how would I like to be treated kind of way“. If you’re only ever going to send out mass communication to a wide audience, just don’t bother! Use your data to treat your customers as individuals. Engagement levels will depend on the relevance and personalisation of communications, offers/ rewards and your proposition. Customers don’t mind hearing from you, if there’s some personal value to them in your message.
3) Be different if you dare?
We’ve heard the same story so many times. The exec board say “we’ve got to do loyalty and of course it’s going to be points based, what else would be?” Point’s programmes have their place but they are not necessarily right for everyone. Points might not be right for your brand if you don’t have a high transaction volume or if you’re brand is innovative, different or exclusive. Your audience may well expect something different from you – make sure you deliver it... uber’s non points based brand club concept will give you a real edge.
4) joined up thinking – CRM is not just the responsibility of the CRM team
CRM is all about becoming a consumer centric business. Your most precious assets are your consumers, and its making sure you look after them and have a meaningful relationship which will result in keeping them for longer. The real role of CRM is always more than the contact strategy and database management, it’s about the degree to which you can align all departments behind a common goal creating the best possible brand experience in whatever form the consumer chooses.
5) Timing goes a long way
What’s going on in your customers life, immediacy to events is vital, birthdays, Mothers day, Valentines, recent transactions – get in touch with them if it’s just to say happy birthday or thank you.
6) Be interested and get to know them
It takes time, work at it and learn from interactions keep building on the data you have the more personal the messages the more engaged the customer will be. In order to keep it relevant you have to take time to find out more. Customers realise personalisation comes with time, if the relationship is give and take they’ll share information with you providing you use it to enhance their experience. Always deliver what you promise, get your customer service team involved, remember crm is not just the responsibility of the CRM team. Set KPI’s around data knowledge and get senior management to buy into this.
7) Make the most of your relationship with your advocates
In most cases we see the 80/20 rule applies, 20% of your customers will be active advocates, spreading the word about your brand and loyalty programme. You need to recognise this and make the most of it by rewarding them. Introduce a recommend a friend campaign, and reward them accordingly. Your most loyal customers will be recommenders, and those that have been recommended will become loyal if you deliver on your promises.
8) Keep something back
Create an air of mystery, surprise, and delight around your loyalty programme to keep it interesting. The secret is to not lay out all the rules up front! This allows you to tailor your programme as you go, giving a fluid, flexible approach. As you learn you can adapt communication, rewards and benefit types. Customers like to know what they have to do to get rewarded but it doesn’t have to be just about behavioral drivers. Look at the data and reward in a surprise and delight way – if you get the reward and timing right, they’ll be very impressed and importantly, they will never forget it.
9) Measure measure measure – what’s important to your business?
BEFORE you implement your loyalty programme define what success means, so you all have a common goal, and expectations are managed. Don’t forget it takes time and investment before you see success from your loyalty programme. Combine soft and hard benefits, include data achievements, brand experience as well as customer acquisition, member transaction, member v’s non member and visit based measurement.
10) Keep rewards relevant, show value quickly
Although it takes time to learn what pushes your customer’s buttons, you need to hit the ground running with rewards or benefits simply for signing up, get creative and form partnerships with the right brands to allow you to do this in a cost effective way! Reward them as soon as possible to get early buy in to your programme, and they will be instantly hooked. Treating people special doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and this can be done easily simply by getting your communications exciting, immediate and most importantly, relevant.
11) Get the staff involved
By this we mean internal at a corporate level and if you have staff that are customer facing. A two tiered approach to your programme will bring you more success. If your staff members are being rewarded in a similar way they will a) understand your programme and how it works more clearly but b) talk about it more enthusiastically, it all adds to your viral buzz and ultimately your bottom line.