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True loyalty: beyond the loyalty program

This article was also published on These customers will usually earn more rewards points when they shop, receive exclusive invites to store openings, get regular email offers to buy the latest range and even get a ‘personalised’ letter from the MD each year.

But does this mean they’re really loyal? While they may very well spend more (it’s the reason they’re in the top group after all), retention, satisfaction and engagement ratings may not be increasing over time.

No matter how good your loyalty program is, your business won’t be able to maintain customer loyalty if you’re getting it wrong somewhere else. Give the following areas of your business the once over to make sure you’re not alienating your customers and undermining your hardworking loyalty program.

Customer feedback Truly listen to what your customers are saying about your brand and make sure you turn their requests around quickly, paying particular attention to your best customers because these are the people who can tell you what makes them spend. Thanks to social media platforms, there’s really no excuse for not listening to customer feedback. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter provide businesses with the ability to engage with customers in a meaningful way. The catch is that you must be willing to truly engage and not try and control what goes on. Your best customers will normally want to talk with you and this can become an amazing resource for gathering knowledge, ideas and even building advocacy. When managed properly, this two-way communication can become a key loyalty driver in its own right.

Staff retention and satisfaction There is strong evidence that increased staff satisfaction improves customer satisfaction and then sales. According to US retailer Sears, a 5% increase in staff attitude delivered a 1-3% increase in positive customer satisfaction which resulted in a half-a-percent increase in revenue. It’s not just compelling, it’s common sense – happy staff will engender a better selling environment and customers will feel welcome to buy from you.

Sales techniques How do your staff engage with customers? Are they trying to serve or put on the hard sell? A robotic ‘do you want fries with that’ is a real turn off and a clear sign that you are just selling not serving. From the outset staff need to ensure they are meeting the core needs of the customer in a personable manner, otherwise they won’t ever be in a position to sell. Serve first, sell second.

Call centre Long wait times, complex IVR and offshore call centres are all ways you have reduced costs and ‘encouraged’ customers to go online but they’re also great reasons to boycott a brand. Smart cost strategy… not smart service, especially for your top customers. In designing your loyalty strategy you need to consider all customer touch points and make the customer experience consistent and enjoyable.

Loyalty is not just about loyalty programs. In fact, loyalty programs are mostly about rewarding spending and giving you a structure to capture and analyse data. From that point you can attempt to influence behaviour. True loyalty should be an organisational strategy that’s central to what you do each and every day.

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