According to research, customers have between 10-15 loyalty cards or programs that they’re participating in. This signifies that they are happy to participate in discount and incentive programs but not happy to commit to brand loyalty.
So how can brands encourage and incentivize and promote customer loyalty?
The answer lies in a careful mix of three elements:
- Buyer Experience
- Compelling Incentives
- Promotion of the loyalty program
Much more than customer service, buyer experience is the story of your store, from the second your customer enters the store until well after they have left happy.
Creating an amazing buyer experience begins with creating a vision for your company. A brand story, but so much more. Your company vision must encompass the big dreams of the brand, the passions, the dreams, and what it aspires to come.
If your brand doesn’t have a vision, you’ve got problems right there.
All of your team need to be enrolled and inspired by the vision – setting the company rules of the game around vision will mean that all of a sudden, your business is like a football field, and you are the coach, encouraging your team to kick goals in the right direction. Everyone knows their role, everyone knows the objective, and everyone is inspired when they walk out on the field to play.
A vision is not enough, to create amazing customer experiences, you need to define what that looks like, then deliver it.
Begin with the basics:
- Impeccable, polite, friendly service.
- Immaculate cleanliness – not just in the food industry
- And an amazing product range, that does what it says it’s meant to.
Then build in the wow factors. These will vary from company to company – but you might be the café with powerpoints as well as free WiFi for laptop usage, or the real estate agent who has a range of services to assist a vendor to get their house up to immaculate sales standard.
The little above and beyond things that set you apart from the crowd are what inspire loyalty. But they’re meaningless and useless if you don’t get the basics right first.
Carefully document and systemize the minimum standard of service, and ensure that everyone in your team is trained and enthusiastic to deliver them.
The second step in creating a customer loyalty program is having compelling incentives.
10% off just doesn’t cut it anymore. Everyone is doing it. No one is interested in a free cup of coffee after they have purchased 10 cups.
Compelling incentives have to give your customers a feeling of exclusivity. A few ideas might be:
- VIP Products only available to loyalty club subscribers
- Closed door sales
- Store vouchers and joint venture partner vouchers
- Exclusive, significant, member discounts
One café I saw get this almost right was San Churros – they had the standard buy 10 coffees, get one free loyalty program – but on completion of the program they upgraded you into the “order of the churro” where you received a special looking plastic membership card, and then received 10% off every order you placed with them from then on.
This was fantastic, but unfortunately they missed out on the next magic ingredient of customer loyalty:
Promoting the incentives program.
The basic steps in promoting a customer loyalty program are simple – have your team ask people if they’ve signed up for the program. Every customer should be prompted every time. Don’t rely on customers to remember their loyalty card – they won’t until you condition them to do so!
Taking it to the next level is where the magic begins, this is where we incorporate social media into the mix, the use of applications, and check ins, and social proof.
If you digitize your program, you have the ability to:
- Have your loyal customers check in at your location when they make a purchase
- Share their experiences and check ins on Social Media
- Get rewarded for performing certain tasks – such as interacting on your Social Media Platforms, bringing friends with them to your store, purchasing certain products, participating in certain promotions….
- Connect and converse with all of these customers via SMS marketing, or Email Marketing, or Phone Marketing – because you’ll have all of those details at your finger tips
- Track buyer behavior and segment buyer groups within your customers – allowing you to take your incentives program to a whole new level, based on exactly what your customers are interested in.
The best news is, setting up a digitized customer loyalty program is both simple and achievable. Binkd has software that can turn your customer loyalty program into a program that actually inspires customer loyalty – and builds your sales and marketing.
Binkd can handle everything from the software, through to providing you with an app to completely digitise your reward program, or a nifty looking card for your customers to scan each time they attend your outlet.
The secret is in the systems and the follow up – once you’ve got your basic customer experience in place. Create the experience, deliver the service, systemise the program, then take it to the next level to add value to both you, and your customer.
Photo credit: Nick J Webb