21st Feb 2020
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that customers have more choice than ever when it comes to who they buy off – and rightly so. Our latest report found, if your customer isn’t having their expectations met, they’re going elsewhere. So, how can you keep customers coming back time and time again?
In this blog, our MD, Michael Kalli, looks at the trends you should be nailing this year if you want to keep your customers loyal. Take it away, Michael…
I’m no psychic but I know that a great customer experience strategy can play a BIG part in keeping your customers loyal. And while a blog isn’t the right place to set your entire CX strategy from, I’m going to give a quick overview of the customer experience trends I think will make the biggest impact this year.
If, like me, you’re always looking for new ways to impress your customers and keep them loyal, I’m hoping this piece comes in handy.
Tesco unveiled its updated Clubcard Plus card last year to resurge its loyalty programme – although let’s bypass the Spice Girls photo incident – and I’m sure we’ll see other brands spicing up their loyalty programmes this year.
But why loyalty? Well, because it would be stupid not to. We all know already, and are constantly reminded that, it costs a brand far more to gain new customers than it does to keep one. In my opinion, any brand willing to focus solely on attracting customers rather than retaining them is doing it wrong.
It’s easy for me to sit here and give you my two pennies’ worth of advice about what you should be doing, but let’s face it, you can’t rewrite a whole sales and marketing strategy from a few words on a blog. But, it’s still important to take note of what I’m saying. Why? Because our research shows half of customers don’t feel it pays to be loyal to a brand – and that’s a big problem.
So, I went straight to the source and asked 1000 consumers to answer the question – what can brands do to keep you loyal? Inevitably, I was met with the optimistic “give us more money” response because, you know, most people value some extra pounds in their pocket. But, beyond that we discovered the preferred loyalty rewards are supermarket vouchers, restaurant discounts, cinema discounts or tickets, and free affiliate products. So, unless you’ve got a magic money tree – and if you do, can you let me know where it’s growing – then the best way to keep customers coming back is to offer true value for their loyalty, by considering their preferences above.
There’s far too much choice out there for customers to put up with a sub-par service or rubbish rewards. You wouldn’t want a bland service so don’t give your customer one and expect them to put up with it. Treat them well, and they can go from making purchases to becoming a brand ambassador, promoting you to all their friends and family. I know the first thing I do when I’ve had a good experience somewhere is tell my friends about it and don’t stop telling them about it until they try it for themselves!
What’s the benefit of this? Well, it causes a snowball effect of purchasing from the customer’s friends and family. They’ll look up the product or service, tell someone they know about it and so on – if they’re rewarded along the way, bonus! Another reason to talk about you to their friends.
But you need to make sure the reward works for them, imagine how annoyed you’d be if you received a deal on a restaurant that’s 50 miles away. Safe to say you won’t be visiting any time soon or making a repurchase from the company you got the reward from. Personalisation is key, don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole, you’ll look ingenuine and consumers will see right through it – and be fast to slam you to everyone on social media if you’re not careful.
I’m also expecting to see a surge in experience-based purchases this year. I love an experience as much as the next person, so it’s no surprise to me that immersive experiences like food markets, pop-up stores, secret cinema nights and themed bars gained huge popularity in the last 12 months. And it’s only set to continue.
Over half of us like it when a brand does something out of the ordinary, we live for those added experiences that evoke a memory. With the secret menus, dining experiences, and themed food nights gaining popularity, we can expect dining and eating out to see an increase this year and there’s more choice now than ever before.
Also, when it comes to the cinematic experience, let’s face it, what more could you want than watching your favourite film in a building set up as if it was part of the film? So, it’s becoming increasingly important that you provide an experience.
For instance, the cinema has made a huge comeback in the past couple of years, with attendance reaching 177 million in 2018 – the highest number since 1970. Whether it’s getting the popcorn before the film starts, or the experience of the big screen that pulls you in, consumers are heading out to the cinema in force. But, let’s not discount the fact that sometimes there’s nothing better than sitting on your sofa in your pjs watching a film or binge watching on demand content on a Sunday – especially if it’s raining! (is winter NOT over yet?!)
I’m sure we’ll see more brands take this immersive approach throughout 2020.
Side note – Make sure you’re not watching a film with that one family member who insists on talking over the important parts (even if you have seen it 100 times!). Yes, we’re talking about you Auntie Jean.
Finally – because I’m sure you’ve had enough of me talking now – I’m expecting 2020 to move from flogging products alone, to removing barriers for customers.
If you can solve an issue for your customer, they’ll keep coming back. I’m going to be honest here, you don’t always have to go above and beyond to keep a customer loyal. It can simply just be that you make their life easier than anyone else does. Look at Uber, they’ve had some issues lately but they completely disrupted the market by making customers not have to go to a cash machine to pay for a taxi – a simple initiative but a complete game changer in the taxi hire world.
So what if you’re not the biggest player in the industry, neither were some of the biggest names in payments five years ago but that’s not stopped them taking over that landscape and making it their own through innovation – and making payments interesting for once! You don’t have to be the big dog in a sector, you just have to be the most innovative. For example, Monzo did something no one else could, evolve and change dependent on the needs of the consumer. None of the big banks could do this at the time due to their legacy systems – meaning customers’ experiences were better and they gained value for their loyalty with these challenger banks. Purchases are more than a commodity now, it’s about a solution and in turn that’ll drive loyalty.
There are a number of ways to get into the mind of your customers and I’m not talking about some voodoo mindreading trick. It’s all comes down to data! This is your ally, and your new best friend. Work with your payment service provider, customer experience teams or loyalty provider to gain these insights and establish how you can target those who have opted in to share their information.
With this data you can, in a very non-creepy and stalker way, analyse their purchasing habits. Do they attend the cinema every Friday? Well, send them a reward for some free popcorn then – again try not to be too creepy about it! Done in the right way, it’ll show you know them and also give them an added surprise.
It’s a tough balancing act to focus on both customer loyalty and sales, but that’s why ELLO Media is here. You look after the sales and we’ll look after the customers.
Right, I promise now I’ll let you go, but before I do just a last thought.
You can’t always predict customer behaviour, I know this, you know this, your customer even can’t predict their own behaviour sometimes. However, you can give customers an overall better experience and service, and if that’s the least they get from your business, you’re still doing better than a lot of companies out there!
So, that’s my opinion on 2020 but, there’s still loads I’ve not covered when it comes to a great loyalty programme. You’ll have to download our full loyalty report to not miss a trick.