The great philosopher Plato once said: “Everything changes and nothing remains still”. When it comes to customer loyalty, this statement is especially true. While customer loyalty will always be the highest priority of any retention strategy, this concept will invariably change over time due to shifts in customer expectations and demands. Today’s consumer is concerned not only with value for money but also the experience that he or she enjoys when interacting with a particular brand. So, how can companies respond to these new demands? What does it all mean for the future of customer loyalty? Let’s take a look.
Finding Loyal Partners
Many companies have realised that they cannot do it alone. As much as they attempt to provide their customers with a tailored experience, there will always be certain elements beyond their reach. The solution to this is forming strategic loyalty program partnerships. By partnering with other brands, companies can offer their customers an incredibly diverse and far more personalised experience, thereby increasing loyalty. Companies also enjoy the benefit of leveraging off one another’s customer bases. A great example of a strategic loyalty partnership can be seen with Kauai and Vodacom, where Vodacom customers can qualify for certain discounts and free items through the VodaBucks Rewards Program. We anticipate that many more companies will look to form strategic loyalty program partnerships going forward.
Rewarding Customer Loyalty & Engagement
As businesses delve deeper into the online space, many are discovering the enormous benefits of constant customer engagement. From hashtags to likes to shares, companies can generate publicity through interaction with online users. As a result, many brands now incentivise their customers to generate content around their products and services. Whether it be blogs, vlogs, referrals, or even positive reviews, companies are beginning to understand that online customer engagement can boost brand awareness, grow their online audience, boost loyalty and ultimately increase sales and profits. As a result, businesses will increasingly look at ways to reward customer engagement.
Multiple Channels, One Amazing Experience
Omnichannel marketing is becoming an increasingly favoured strategy for companies looking to provide a great customer experience. This sales concept focuses on providing consumers with an integrated, seamless shopping experience, whether they are interacting via their desktop, laptop, mobile device, or even in a brick-and-mortar store. The omnichannel approach isn’t simply about speaking to customers through different channels. Rather, it seeks to connect all channels to offer the customer a holistic experience, striving to build deeper relationships between consumers and the brand. Omnichannel marketing speaks directly to the consumer’s need for a personalised experience when interacting with a brand. The stats back this up: studies have shown that companies who employ a properly defined omnichannel strategy enjoy a 91% higher customer retention rate than those who don’t.
Giving Back To Gain Loyalty
Yes, customers do care about what your company is doing for the community. Many consumers consider corporate social responsibility to be as important as customer service, quality of product, and value for money. According to research, nearly 90% of consumers will support brands that stand up for issues that they care about.
In light of this close connection between corporate social responsibility and customer loyalty, more and more businesses are looking to integrate their social initiatives into their customer loyalty programs. Through their customer loyalty apps, companies can keep customers informed about the worthy causes that they are involved in and allow them to donate to the cause of their choice. To further bolster loyalty, businesses may even reward customers for their charitable giving.
Meeting Customer Needs, Instantly!
The consumer of today wants it all, and they want it now. Especially among tech-savvy millennials, the need for instant gratification is on the rise. Five to seven delivery waiting periods have given place to overnight delivery services (at an increased fee, of course!). This phenomenon will only accelerate going forward. Companies will need to continuously look at ways to speed up payments, customer service response times, loyalty rewards, and every other aspect of their business process. The more instantaneous the benefit, the greater the overall experience and, ultimately, the great return on customer loyalty.
Customer loyalty is here to stay and, if anything, promises to take on an even greater role in growing and sustaining a business. However, to effectively utilise the customer loyalty concept, businesses need to fully embrace the changes that will inevitably come along. The concepts stated above merely represent a sample of how customer loyalty is poised to evolve. As businesses gain a better understanding of the expectations, desires, and values of today’s consumers, their loyalty programs need to be tailored to meet those expectations. Doing this ultimately leads to a greater portion of customers not only returning but also inviting their friends and family along for the journey.
If you’re interested in customer loyalty and how it can change your business, read more in our recent article discussing the ever-changing face of customer loyalty.