COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to shut down or change their operations in one way or another. Government restrictions were (and still are in many places) imposed to reduce direct interactions of a customer with the business. In addition to that, models of shopping emerged that included less contact, contactless, and home delivery. The good thing for a business is it is still operational and can cater to a much larger customer base than before. On the flip side, digital gives plenty of options to the customers. In such a scenario, engaging the customer becomes a challenge and customer loyalty takes a hit. Your loyalty program definitely needs a revisit with immediate effect, to make it still appealing to the current and future times. Hence, let us understand how to engage customers through loyalty programs in the post-covid world.
1. Engage customer with a cross-platform loyalty program
Given the multi-channel areas of engagement and omnichannel technology that powers, the first thing every brand needs to do is to bring their loyalty program onto the headless commerce platform. This is to make sure no matter where a customer approaches the brand from, the basic loyalty program still is accessible to him or her. Now incentivize the customer with a cherry on top. Free shipping a product that was out of stock when the customer enquired about it earlier, or in-store, is one of the examples many premium brands use to surprise the customer and retain their loyalty. Easy returns with no questions asked is another good way that many fashion brands offer to retain loyalty.
Landmark Group, is a leading global apparel and fashion brand with multiple stores and platforms. It has tweaked its loyalty program, due to the pandemic restrictions, taking a mobile-first approach and incentivizing mobile app purchases. Post restrictions, while retaining the mobile-first approach, the group has allowed the customers to redeem the points acquired at any touchpoints.
Landmark Rewards App
2. Give incentives to engage customers
Every business that has money, time, and will has an online presence. They are competing not for mind share but their share for the customer’s mobile screen. Given such a scenario, brands have to give incentives and scenarios just to log on or open an app almost every day. Simple engagements that can be piled up and saved later when a customer makes a purchase will make sure you do not lose your loyalty and will keep your brand on the customer’s mobile screen.
Zomato, the market leader in food delivery, rewards and gives status not just to frequent purchases but also to customers who share reviews regularly on their platform. The move appeals to the inner ego of the customers making them connaisseurs of using the platform. This applies to every D2C brand that encourages customers to share honest reviews and rewards them no matter what the rating is given.
3. Balance your online communications to engage customers
Don’t spam your customers, but a warm email once in a while, explaining your situation and your progress is always welcomed by a loyalist. The customers have had enough of COVID and its precautions, so make sure your new social media persona is fresh and heart-warming. It is also a good time to drop an email explaining your new loyalty program and its benefits to the customer.
Hyatt hotels represent the most affected industry in the pandemic – travel and tourism. Hyatt has sweetened the pot for points users, with a 15% rebate for general members and a 25% rebate for World of Hyatt Credit cardholders. IT also extended its unused free nights, and other benefits by almost a year trusting the consumers to come back once they feel it’s safe.
It’s a good time to gamify your interactions, make them easy, fun and simple. Tinder is a very good example of an amazing UI cam that makes a huge difference. Imagine an app UI where you can simply swipe left or right based on your likes and dislikes, respectively.
The Amazon shopping app offers every day free quizzes and spins to its customers to incentivize them to open the app almost every day.
Amazon Shopping App
4. As always put customers first
A brand is the trust that your customer puts in your product(s). Hence always put your customers first. Believe in them, give them loyalty points when in doubt, extend the last date of redemption, allow them to transport it to use access brands and platforms.
Use intelligence to predict your customer needs. In fact, a Forbes article suggests addressing challenges even before they express them, or at least having an answer ready.
Personalize the communication, use their first name, and offer rewards they value.
Amazon Prime Loyalty program is perhaps the most subjective yet popular loyalty program. Users get early access to sales, faster shipping benefits, exclusive access to movies and TV shows, Kindle books, and generally a superior Amazon experience all-around. Amazon puts its loyal customers on the top no matter what the platform!
5. KYC in your loyalty program (Know Your Customer)
If your business has survived the pandemic it is because you have evolved, you have listened to your customers and addressed them in the way the environment allowed.
Focus on mobiles, improve the apps, and loyalty. All the segments have shown an increase in usage of mobile apps during the pandemic. According to tech crunch research, Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X showed 16%, 18%, and 30% increased time on their apps year-over-year, respectively. There is a high chance that many of the users might be using your app for the first time and since the definition of loyalty differs vastly across generations. Know who is using the app, and tweak your loyalty program based on that user.
Starbucks is yet another great example of an evolving loyalty program. From offering free coffee to complimentary upgrades and free in-app delivery, Starbucks has done everything right to make sure it retains its customer’s preferences and stays on top of the mind.
Starbucks Loyalty & Engagement App
6. Evolve you rewards to engage customers
Loyalty is a very important tool. Loyalty can be used to promote more purchases, that’s the traditional way, but the new customers expect more. Today, a loyalty program can be used to enhance the value offering, forge new partnerships, or inspire your customer loyalty. The focus on a loyalty program needs to focus on experience, variety, and personalization. A tie-up between Spotify and NetFlix to offer combined loyalty or airport lounge access using credit cards are a good example of utilizing loyalty points.
The best loyalty program needs constant engagement, and incentivizes even non-transactional activities as well, for example sharing reviews, feedback, social media promotions, and more.
A Loyalty Program
Source: Fora Financial
7. Take an Agile Approach for your loyalty program
COVID pandemic has changed your customers, and it is still changing. The impact of COVID the conveniences it has given in terms of hybrid workspaces, contactless quick shopping, and more are here to stay, with a few customers and the rest might prefer some other way of interactions. Listen to your customers, understand what they want, their preferences are changing and evolving and you must be prepared to meet them. Have an inquisitive and intelligent platform that captures individual preferences before giving them a solid incentive. If an incentive isn’t valued by your customer, half your battle is lost.
Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards curates the customer’s cashback rewards when money is spent in the category of their choice. It also applies when a customer uses the card at one of its partner’s websites or points of sale, on both debit, and credit cards.
Bank of America Rewards Card
8. Build your loyalty program a dedicated platform
The first step after designing a loyalty program is to create a dedicated platform for the customers. Offer information that explains the program, allows the customer to check and redeem the loyalty points. Make sure customer details are transparent, editable, and most importantly fully secure. Nothing inspires loyalty like confidentiality and personalization. The platform can be a login page on the website, a dedicated app, or a small section of your super app, either way, the information on the loyalty should be transparent to the customer.
PAYBACK, India’s largest multi-brand loyalty program, is a unique coalition loyalty program. It is backed by banks, retail chains, apparel brands, mobile operators, and more. The dedicated platform serves one of the largest customer bases in the world and is renowned for being user-friendly, diverse, and secure. PayPal is another globally popular platform on the same lines.
Payback Loyalty App
If there is one good thing that has evolved over the pandemic, it is that brands started to listen to their customers more. Now, identifying and rewarding these customers is a necessity. Customer loyalty programs are very powerful tools to retain customers and encourage repeat purchases. That said, the customers have evolved and are starting to expect more from the brands. Hence, brands need to get proactive, make use of AI/ML tools, to understand their customers to reward them.
More importantly, choose a good partner to bring to life the new and renewed loyalty program. Bring in some exclusivity and a higher frequency of rewards. Kyanon Digital has vast experience in building hassle-free and smooth loyalty program applications for global brands such as Starbucks, Singapore. Give us a call, and we will bring your thoughts to life!