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09 February 2015

The Big ‘L’

Customer loyalty – the holy grail of any business is to develop that tribe of devotees who not only return to your business time and time again, but love you so much they tell all their friends about you too. Like any relationship, it’ll take more than a couple of thank you notes and a discount voucher every now and then to build loyalty.

Good old customer service

So where do you start with your customer loyalty scheme? Before you reach for the loyalty card or the ‘buy nine get one free’ stamp, go back to basics and think about good old customer service. If you say you’re going to do something, do it – on time – preferably with a smile! It’s pretty basic stuff really, but amazing how many companies fall short. It only takes one bad experience to send customers hunting elsewhere – there’s plenty of choice these days!

Don’t fall down the price gap

Another major temptation is to think that customers are only motivated by cost. Sure, price plays a major factor in what we buy, but recent research suggests that other incentives within loyalty programmes are actually swaying customers more than price alone.

According to exclusive research from Marketing-GAP, pure price discounting attracts 48 per cent of respondents. However, 56 per cent said that rewards or loyalty schemes, such as coupons or bonus reward points, are most successful in encouraging them to switch.

But getting the long-term relationship right is the challenge. At the end of the day, you’re a business; you’ve got a bottom line to meet. If your customers are happily spending their vouchers as your profit margins diminish, you’re not going to be around for very long. 

Matching the rewards with the customer

Which is why bespoke rewards are becoming increasingly popular. Brands like O2 have navigated these waters with their Priority rewards package. The premise is pretty simple really; the mobile phone company let customers choose rewards that match their own interests from a whole variety of companies.

Mark Stevenson, head of priority and sponsorship at O2, says, “The most important thing to get right on a loyalty platform is to understand what customers want and own it for them. We know that film is a very motivating passion, so we give Priority customers the chance to see films such as Despicable Me 2 before anyone else.”

A little bit of data mining can go a long way to understanding the motivations of your customers. Remember too that once your customers are in the door, you need to work to keep them there. They’re likely to be rather cheesed off if they see you neglecting them whilst trying to woo new customers.

A little more conversation

This is where social media can be a huge help. Without the up front costs of direct mail or TV ad campaigns, not only can you offer rewards to your customers, you can also directly start conversations with them. You can quickly and easily ask questions, get feedback and see what your customers love and, perhaps more importantly, what they don’t like about you! Before you know it, you’ll have a much better idea of who you’re talking to and can tailor your messages accordingly!

Just remember that loyalty is something that doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build and if you’d like a little bit of help with then, then give us a call on 01892 541111, email us at [email protected]or visit our design agency studio in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

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