Whether or not you are an established business, you always need to focus on growing your profits and increasing your brand awareness. Your business will make more money as your brand name grows. That's why you need to focus on both factors if you want to leave your competitors behind.
Growing your profits and your brand ultimately boils down to providing excellent customer experience and creating a band of loyal followers. Your loyal customers are more than just your customers, they are your brand advocates.
They will not only keep coming back to buy more products but also encourage their friends and peers to buy from you. So, you need to have a loyalty program that keeps your consumers engaged.
Let’s dive in.
1. Interesting Facts about Customer Loyalty
For years, businesses, whether small or big, have used loyalty programs to drive more sales. It is one of the most successful marketing strategies globally. They often encourage your existing customers to shop at your business more frequently. In fact, 20% of your loyal customers account for nearly 80% of your revenue. Thus, adding more loyal customers to your consumer base can increase your revenue significantly over time.
Loyalty also drives word-of-mouth publicity which can help you bring in new customers. According to a recent study, consumers that participate in top-quartile loyalty programs are 77% more likely to choose the brand over competitors and twice as likely to recommend the brand to others.
It is no surprise the number of loyalty program have gone up despite the slow recovery of the global economy since 2009 financial meltdown. A decade-long survey from 2006-2016 examined the growth trends of loyalty programs in the US and found that memberships have grown from 3.3 million to 3.8 billion from 2014 to 2016 alone.
Loyalty programs also allow you to collect more detailed information about your customers’ habits. Interestingly, most loyal consumers willingly share their personal details if you deliver highly personalized brand experience.
As a result, it becomes easier to study and evaluate their shopping behavior both online and offline.
2. Understanding the Connection between Brand Loyalty and Customer Experience
So, why do people like loyalty programs? Most marketers would say that they want to save money and enjoy shopping benefits.
However, monetary rewards are not the only drive for customer loyalty programs. Customer experience is also a crucial factor for a successful loyalty program that leads to brand growth.
Your customers want you to understand their unique needs and expectations. If you fail to deliver those, they will probably leave your brand for good. While 66% of consumers are likely to switch brands if they feel treated like a number, not an individual, 40% of them start buying from your competitors if their customer experience is stellar than yours.
If almost half of your customer base lands in the lap of your competitors where would that leave you? The estimated cost of customers switching due to poor service is $1.6 trillion in the US alone.
Unfortunately, losing your loyal customers also translates into poor brand publicity. In essence, you are losing your staunch brand advocates to your competitors. Ouch!
So, how do you provide your loyal customers with exceptional brand experience? The easiest way is to provide them with a personalized shopping environment. To make that happen, you need to know your consumers inside-out, which brings us to the next important point.
3. Focusing on Customer Journey Mapping
The customer journey is visually mapping out the different stages your customers go through till they make the purchase.
It allows you to understand the potential pain-points, distractions, and touch-points of your consumers. That’s why you can build better UX for your e-commerce website and highly targeted digital marketing campaigns based on such maps.
You will need to create buyer personas based on qualitative survey data and quantitative research. They will help you identify the touch points where your customer interacts with your brand. Make sure to list all of them regardless of how trivial they may seem.
For example, when someone spends a few minutes on your site, it could be seen as a minor touch point that you can exploit further with the right content.
The journey map doesn't have to be a straight line. Your consumers will have various entry points, timelines, and exit points depending on their demographics, psychology, and behavior. However, you do need to bring all those channels together at one touch point.
For example, most companies try to guide their customers to their website using a variety of channels such as email marketing, social media, and online adverts. So, they will have different paths, but they will converge at one point which is clicking the website link.
Talk to all your stakeholders to find out which touch points function satisfyingly. It will help you add a qualitative layer to the journey map. Lastly, you should understand and keep updating the journey map as customer behavior will change over time.
4. Taking Advantage of Self-Service Technology
Technology has always played a crucial role in strengthening the relationship between consumers and brands. You can also take advantage of the latest self-service technology to provide excellent customer experience.
Brands are increasingly using automation to facilitate better user experience. As it turns out, half the customers like to solve product or service related issues on their own. In fact, customers will be able to manage 85% of their interaction with a brand without any human interface by 2020.
Self-service technology has already found acceptance across a broad range of industries. Marketers love it because it is less expensive, needs fewer resources, and helps build brand equity.
While customers like it because self-service technology offers easy to use solutions, it is convenient, easily accessible 24/7, and faster than manually operated systems.
You should try to use self-service technology wherever possible to reduce potential friction and delay. The simplest form of self-service technology would be a detailed FAQ page. Nearly 75% of customers consider such a knowledge base to be a convenient method of support, while 40% will check it out before calling your phone support.
However, this technology is now far more advanced. For example, most Airlines and many hotels have started using self-check-in kiosks to avoid long ques. Customers can check in conveniently 24/7. Similarly, banks have also established self-service kiosks where customers can meet almost all their banking needs.
5. Keeping Track of Latest Customer Service and Customer Experience Trends
As the self-service technology is evolving fast, you need to keep track of the latest trends to make sure you stay one step ahead of your competitors. Here are five such trends that you should know about.
Only highly personalized loyalty programs can keep your consumers engaged. Even with the GDPR in effect, customers are likely to share their personal information provided it leads to personalized treatment from your brand.
So, you should focus on various personalization techniques such as creating consumer specific offers, providing individual deals, and engaging each consumer with personalized content.
2. Artificial Intelligence and Big Data
While Big Data can provide the data (both structured and unstructured) needed to create a personalized shopping experience for your consumers, Artificial Intelligence (AI) uses this data to discover meaningful patterns, trends, and associations to fuel your self-service technology and marketing automation.
With the AI technology getting cheaper every day, small and medium-sized companies can also enjoy the benefits of AI and Big Data without breaking the bank.
3. Omnichannel Customer Experiences
Consumers, especially millennials, now expect every brand to provide loyalty programs that span across all channels. They would appreciate if your online coupons are redeemable at your physical outlets as well.
Moreover, data collected from multiple channels allows you to create highly personalized shopping experience. So, focus on omnichannel customer experiences.
Chatbots are becoming a popular self-service communication method for almost all businesses. The top three reasons why consumers like chatbots include 24-hour service (64%), getting instant responses (55%), and getting answers to simple questions (55%). Chatbots are getting cheaper.
So, you can use chatbots on your website or via social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger at an affordable cost.
5. Mobile-Centric Customer Service Approach
According to Pew Research, 77% of Americans now own a smartphone. An increasing number of people are using their smartphones to communicate with not only their loved ones but also businesses. Whether it is chatbots or emails, you have to focus on a mobile-centric customer service approach.
As you can see, increasing your profits and growing the popularity of your brand is closely linked to the customer experience. That, in turn, depends on highly personalized loyalty programs.
You can create such programs using the right buyer journey maps, latest self-service technology, and focusing on upcoming customer experience trends. Hopefully, the points summarized here will help you improve your consumer experience.
Although this strategy is not a silver bullet, it is your best shot to leave your competitors behind. Good luck!
Natalia Hawkins is a content writer and a blogger, who is known to play with words. A versatile writer, Her expertise lies in the genres of business, client management, customer satisfaction, growth hacking, etc. You can find on Twitter.