The most effective loyalty programmes in the world plan each interaction that a customer has with their brand, looking beyond a single purchase or a simple reward, according to a report from Aimia that identified ten key moments when the customer's loyalty can be built up.
In the wake of weak retail sales in the US, many retailers are increasing their investment in traditional transaction-based customer loyalty initiatives, with the simple idea of rewarding customers for making purchases. But Aimia believes that some brands are missing the opportunity to use the insights generated by both pre- and post-purchase interactions to build real customer loyalty.
"Our experience with retailers and brands across more than 20 countries shows that the most successful loyalty efforts come from those that engage and capture their customers' preferences before, during, and after each transaction," explained Michael Zea, president and CEO for Aimia in the US. "The next big opportunity is for brands to build loyalty when consumers search online, check in in-store, share their purchases via social media, and even when they upload post-purchase usage data via an interactive app."
Interestingly, Aimia's data showed that the best loyalty programmes can increase a brand's market share by 20% while also improving customer acquisition by up to 10%. The company's ten key points at which true loyalty can be built up are:
- Before they walk through the door
Learn as much as you can about your customers and their interactions with your brand before they even make a purchase decision.
- At the first sign of trouble
Things can go wrong in a new relationship - but leveraging data can help retailers employ tactics to save the relationship.
- During a life change
Use what you know about your customers' lives to tailor rewards programmes to personal milestones.
- When they join your loyalty scheme
The moment a customer decides to join a programme, the experience must be executed flawlessly.
- At the first sign of life
Act on insight from early loyalty programme interactions.
- During redemptions
Deliver a flawless redemption process to keep customers coming back for more.
- During 'make good' opportunities
Failures are inevitable, so your response to a negative experience is critical to keeping the customer loyal.
- When you exceed expectations
Customers often anticipate the bare minimum in service, and appreciate even modest efforts to exceed expectations.
- When you anticipate their needs
Connect the dots through data and analytics to identify customers' future needs.
- When they sing your praises
Reward and recognise your best customers and turn them into vocal advocates.
The report also noted that, despite variations in different vertical markets and geographies, the most successful loyalty marketers all do three things the same way:
- Link customer data with online searching to predict and provide both customers and potential customers with relevant, timely and personalised offers;
- Capture customer data and information throughout the purchase process, right from the initial browsing session through to the purchase and the post-transaction pages;
- Recognise and reward customers who provide their data and preferences throughout the entire purchase cycle.