By David Adler, Sr. Director of Salesforce CX Practice, Merkle
Loyalty programs have become ubiquitous among shopping experiences, with requests such as, “Give us a phone number or email to receive [insert incentive here].” To differentiate themselves, it is critical for today’s brands to create programs that go beyond transactions and create emotional loyalty across all customer touchpoints.
When customers provide data to brands about their shopping habits, as well as behavioral and purchasing preferences, they expect that, in exchange, they will receive a benefit through recognition and rewards. When this is done right, brands are also rewarded – with customers who trust them and bring in repeat business. When done poorly or not at all, consumers are likely to abandon brands and past loyalties are disregarded. Brands with quality products, new and engaging services, a higher degree of convenience and next-level experiences, are attracting customers, while at the same time raising their expectations of the brands with which they prefer to do business.
Building a Program to Drive Emotional Loyalty Is Hard
To foster emotional loyalty, brands must create consistency in the ways their customers interact with them. This requires centralization of customer information, soit can be aggregated and leveraged by every part of the organization. As brands collect more data and create a single 360-degree view of their customers, they will view their customers beyond transactions, touchpoints, or tiers and become smarter about when and how they interact with customers.
While this may sound simple, many brands are missing the mark. Three major barriers that brands face in achieving emotional loyalty stem from organizations that have a lack of vision for loyalty, data and systems that are siloed and organizational structures that prevent strong collaborations between departments. Let’s talk more about these barriers and how to overcome them.
Create a Vision for the Loyalty Experience
When launching a new loyalty program, it is easy to want to be quick to market, with the assumption that any program will be better than none. This is why 77% of loyalty programs fail in their first two years. To be successful and drive the desired outcome of emotional loyalty, brands need to take a multifaceted approach in defining what loyalty looks like for them and their customers (Capgemini, Fixing the Cracks: Reinventing Loyalty Programs for the Digital). These are just a few questions that need to be thought through before a successful loyalty program can start to take shape:
- What are the objectives and behaviors the brand is looking to drive?
- How do consumers prefer to interact with the brand?
- What is the brand’s identity? How do our customers perceive us?
- What would consumers consider to be a valuable benefit, while also representing what the brand is trying to achieve?
- What is the right financial model to sustain the program and how will success be shown?
Use Data to Create a 360-Degree View of Your Customer
Whether you’re launching new promotions, benefits, or services or collecting feedback for how support teams interact with customers, every touchpoint is an opportunity to impact the customer experience and foster emotional loyalty. This cannot happen if a brand has siloed data that is not accessible to customer advocates at the right time. According to Salesforce, 60% of customers say they generally feel like they are communicating with separate departments rather than one company. When data is orchestrated and actioned properly, customers’ experiences are elevated and over 75% of consumers say consistent customer experiences and customer service make it more likely they will do business with brands.
This requires brands to provide their teams with the right tools, infrastructure and support to make it easy for them to have a 360-degree view of the customer and act on the right data without having to go search for the information. This includes purchase history, customer service interactions, social media engagement, loyalty program involvement and more. When customer advocates understand the nuanced buying habits and preferences of the person they are talking to, they can make the right offer that will make their customer feel understood and valued. When this happens, trust is established between customers and their preferred brands, which leads to true emotional loyalty.
Establish Cross-Departmental Collaboration
But none of this happens if brands are not breaking down the organizational boundaries that prevent collaboration. Brands that have in-store, online, digital, social and call center presences are faced with numerous opportunities to interact with and impact the customer experience. As these brand teams are managed by a wide range of business owners, it is essential that the brand voice, marketing promotions, product launch planning, holiday message creation and general brand guidelines include all stakeholders in the organization who have customer-facing responsibilities. This requires a shift in planning and stakeholder definition, with new cadences of meetings and organizational changes that cross the departments of the CMO and CIO. This new group of voices will foster a fresh exchange of ideas and ways of creating emotional loyalty. This consistency not only builds consumer trust in a brand but 73% of millennials say a consistent customer experience will make it more likely they will continue to do business with their favorite brand.