The subject of customer engagement and experience is becoming increasingly important within modern businesses, as today’s brands continue to fall over themselves in order to win customers and grow a loyal fan base. However, in doing so many are in fact turning consumers away by failing to properly engage with them. Indeed, Gartner suggests that brands have been disengaging them for over a decade, in a bid to lower costs.
Our recent research revealed that 50% of customers cited loyalty programmes as the key differentiator between brands, which goes to show these schemes play a key part in the purchase decision process, so the right type of engagement is vital in building long-term relationships with customers. In order to put a successful strategy in place, brands need to get under the skin of their customers and understand what motivates them and makes them tick.
To help uncover where brands are going wrong and how to get it right, I would like to share six key rules of engagement that brands should follow to revitalise their customer loyalty programmes:
1. Transactional vs attitudinal data
To truly understand the psychology behind purchase decisions, brands must get to know their shoppers – a process in which emotional insight is paramount.
Through the capability of being able to access transactional data and attitudinal insight, brands are able to gain a whole 360-degree view of a customer’s actions and attitudes. With transactional data focusing on understanding a customers’ actions and attitudinal insight their attitudes, for brands creating that ever important shopper profile, emotional insight is key if they wish to delve deeper into customer preferences, understand behaviour and the vast number of factors which influence the purchasing decision.
If retailers are to make relevant, personal and timely interactions, they must use more than just raw data, and pay special attention to emotive drivers.
2. Management and measurement
If a business cannot measure customer engagement, how can they analyse current activity and improve? We gather attitudinal data for our customers through a blend of inbound and outbound surveys, mystery shopping and market insight projects which capture the full spectrum of customer relationships.
Not only does this data allow retailers to positively evolve their engagement strategy but to also target and engage with their customers in a far more accurate way, especially as evolving technology – including smart phones – will drive the way people shop.
While many retailers like to stick to transactional data, being one step ahead and providing useful, timely offers can do wonders for creating brand advocacy. By understanding this and introducing new ways to enhance the in-store and online experience – brands can provide the perfect shopping environment for consumers and increase their propensity to purchase.
3. Customer centricity
In order to become a truly customer centric organisation brands need to use laser targeting to engage effectively with customers and keep one step ahead of customer expectations, this will make a brand look fresh as they compete to retain customer attention and interest in maintaining their personal connection with customers.
As engaged customers are proven to be better advocates of a brand, as well as more profitable and loyal, brands must use loyalty schemes too as a vehicle to understand and build a long lasting connection with their consumers, thus putting the customer at the heart of everything they do.
4. Keep it relevant and personal
The importance of relevant customer engagement cannot be stressed enough, especially when it comes to loyalty programmes. Sending generic offers for products that customers have never bought can have a damaging effect upon the output of a loyalty programme.
Our research has shown that continuing to send out offers in bulk, the disconnect between consumers and brands has resulted in over a quarter (27%) of people leaving a loyalty programme.
5. Random acts of kindness
Unexpected acts of kindness can go a long way in building lasting relationships with customers. By showing that a brand really understands them as an individual and offering a regular customer the opportunity to visit their favourite restaurant with a loved one, or realising that their favourite band is performing locally and giving them tickets, rather than a discount off their next shop, can speak volumes.
However, while this personal touch will be appreciated, retailers need to ensure that boundaries are not broken and the customer does not feel their privacy has been invaded, which may make them feel uncomfortable about partaking in the loyalty programme. If an act of kindness is targeted and approached correctly, the customer will feel personally rewarded.
6. Drive brand advocacy
Engaged customers are proven to be better advocates of a brand, as well as more profitable and loyal, they are imperative to a brand as more consumers now research recommendations online or speak to friends before making a purchase decision.
By interacting and understanding a consumer on a personal level, a perfect environment is created. Through loyalty programmes and proactive customer engagement strategies a brand is able to secure a consumer’s advocacy.
In our recent research 50% of the respondents cited loyalty programmes as a factor in making a purchasing decision, so it is imperative that brands make any loyalty schemes relevant and consumer friendly. If this is not done, or done incorrectly, consumers could switch allegiance to a competitor.
If a brand is equipped with a precise targeted message and follows these rules, a customer engagement programme has the potential to provide a brand’s image with a new sense of meaning to many customers. However in order for the hard word to pay off, the key goal of any scheme must be to promote and retain brand advocates, not to drive sales.