True Brand Loyalty Is More Than Just A Loyalty Programme

True Brand Loyalty Is More Than Just A Loyalty Programme

Enhancing the loyalty of your customers is important to your brand and business, but to be truly effective it has to be done right. This is not as simple as adding a customer name to a mailing list or handing out a VIP card. Your overall customer experience and satisfaction is what determines the customers real brand loyalty.

Here are some of the issues we encounter with standard loyalty and reward schemes:

  • Born from competition – Loyalty programmes are often adopted as a knee-jerk response to what competitors are doing. Instead of focusing on what your competitors are doing, your aim should be to provide great service to your clients and customers by looking at what your customers need to become more brand loyal. Customers will only engage in a programme if it has their best interests at the heart of it.
  • Customers are not actively involved in a loyalty scheme past the sign-up stage – Often customers will sign up to your scheme for the starting bonus, but then forget it exists. That, of course, makes your scheme redundant as it is not doing anything to encourage true customer loyalty, and only affects your bottom line.
  • Incentive vs. disincentive – You may find you only have customers signing up to your loyalty programme because they can see they are getting a worse deal if they don’t. If you want to purchase a $100 item that has a “VIP members price” of $90, you will sign up to get the cheaper price. This isn’t an incentive for true customer loyalty – people are only joining because they don’t want to be disadvantaged (this is often used as a way of creating customer email campaigns, which done right, can help create loyalty over time).
  • Online vs Offline Loyalty – Customers are often frustrated when they can't see how their online and offline loyalty rewards relate together, i.e. purchasing through a physical clothing store that uses a different rewards programme to the online program.
  • Ease of Use & Transparency – For a Loyalty Programme to truly help create loyalty, a customer needs an easy way to view and manage their incentives. Some loyalty programmes are so complicated to use and lack the ability to show customers their incentives (e.g. points, discounts etc), the customer is not always aware of the incentive or simply disincentivised through the whole experience.

So how do you avoid these potential problems in your incentive or loyalty program?

Making Incentives and Loyalty Work For You.

It goes without saying that you cannot rely on an incentive scheme as the sole source for generating true customer and brand loyalty. If your overall Customer Experience (or CX) is not up-to-scratch, your customers will walk away regardless of an incentive program. Your business should be engaging customers through personalised experiences, gathering and listening to their feedback, incentivising & rewarding desired behaviours and using detailed customer information to develop the best possible service for them.

Here’s how to make the most of your 'stand-alone' incentive schemes…

  • Make sure it complements your existing plan to generate loyalty. It should be an extension of the great things you already offer your customers.
  • Ensure it is practical for your customers - think about their shopping habits and whether they will use their rewards online, offline, or a mixture of both.
  • The rewards should be attractive and serve your client’s needs. Think about what they would benefit from - free shipping, an upgrade, or the chance to earn a free gift with purchase.
  • It should be easy to understand and unforgettable. Meaning your programme should be completely intuitive, or you should communicate with your customers about how to make the most of the loyalty program.
  • In no way should it annoy your customers! From their perspective, it should run seamlessly and understand their personal history with your business. For example, your emails should not offer them a discount off an item they paid full price for less than a week ago, or offer them a discounted product or service which they have no interest in at all.


What Should Your Loyalty Program Look Like?

Too often (in New Zealand), we see websites that have evolved as the business grows. The basic templated website you had as a startup now has countless plugins, widgets and extensions added to meet the current demands of your business, and now you are adding more to try and keep your Customers loyal and happy.

For example, you had a basic templated Wordpress website and you added Mailchimp to try and capture email addresses to send your latest promotions and articles. You've now added an eCommerce Store through Shopify (and also hooked this into Mailchimp). You have a third party loyalty scheme, which doesn't work well for the sales through the physical store (and it costs a fortune to run). You've added Ask Nicely to see if your customers are happy with their last orders and with your brand in general, and now you want to add events through another third party system, say EventBrite. This makes seeing your Customer data very messy and makes it very hard to create clean targeted campaigns to your customers, or potential customers. None of this is easily automated through Customer Journey Automation, and it creates a lot of manual admin, and to make things worse - a lot of the third party systems aren't talking nicely to each other (or not all data is going both ways).

This is a simplified version of what we often encounter, and this doesn't add the complexity of Sales Reporting & CRM, electronic learning (eLearning) and certification,complex workflows, incentives like internal auctions and complex reporting with custom dashboards etc (all of which we can handle in one system!)

While it is essential to evolve your business to meet your customer growing needs, you can often end up with many external additions trying to cover all the required functions. This creates too many 'silos' that don’t speak well to each other, become cumbersome to use, and there are often huge gaps where systems don’t quite match up and talk to each other - all creating extra work for your business and an experience for your customers that is less than satisfactory.

A LOT of businesses we see are so 'tangled' in the web, with many different silos each holding an important bit of information that is needed to create effective Customer Experiences (CX). That's why, here at Fuel, we are embarking on a campaign to UNTANGLE THE WEB and create amazing websites and CX that are run from one main system. That doesn't mean we are not creating important integrations - these are generally always required still (e.g. Accounting / ERP systems, Stock and Delivery handling systems etc), but we can greatly streamline the CX, create much more relevant customer data, and automate a lot of the more redundant experiences through clever drag-and-drop Customer Journeys.

What Should Your Loyalty Program Look Like?

You need to know your customer's last experience with your company, maybe through simple emoticon feedback emails or simple surveys & polls, or maybe just an old-fashioned personalised email or phone call. You need to ensure any unhappy customers are remedied quickly, and happy customers should be incentivised to tell friends about their great experience with your brand. You need to create easy to use incentive schemes (gift rewards, points, giveaways, VIP auctions, special members-only sales, events, and even discounts among many others). Ensure your customer service is top notch, and your website is easy to use, secure and fast. Ensure your brand is used correctly across all mediums and ensure you are creating brand awareness and targeted information for your loyal customers through blog articles, social media, events and even just chatting with your customers.

Here at Fuel Design, we believe that your website should offer a seamless experience. Websites have grown beyond an online brochure and the ability to add products to a cart. Users expect so much more from their online (and offline) experiences now. They expect ease of use across all devices, they expect you to remember their interests and purchase history, and they expect the info they need to be available immediately. 

All of this builds an ideal Customer Experience and encourages true loyalty with your brand. Incentive programmes are a key part of building customer loyalty. But they are just one part, and that is why we have built it into a fully comprehensive business solution.

Our automated and cohesive website solutions are designed with the customer in mind. It puts everything in one place – the brand website, powerful eCommerce, complete customer purchase history, targeted email marketing, voice-of-customer feedback, reviews, and a LOT more.

Get in touch with Fuel today to see how this seamless solution could work for your business.