The paradigm of Loyalty Programs is witnessing certitude (a feeling of certainty) for a drastic makeover, as the interactions with the growing consumer base of Millennials and Gen Z surge. A generational shift in the principals and practices of traditional Loyalty Programs is highly warranted to entice and engage the prospective customer base comprising largely of this pool which exercises tremendous influencing capability as well on their 360-degree environment. Millennials are the “Go-To” people today for influencing and buying decisions at most domestic fronts.
The new Loyalty Attitude paints a picture of the young consumer preferring and allocating more weight to Experiences than any other form of redemptions unless of course redemption provides a memorable experience. It is almost a cliché to state that the Novo consumers “Prioritize Experiences over other Transactional Shenanigans”.
Some companies today do offer Customer-Centric Experiences as a part of their Points/Miles or other Redemption plans and rely mostly on Novo loyalty tech platforms to understand what form of reward or experience works for each individual, at what time and with what message.
A McKinsey report on German Retail Banking tells us “that when banks invest in delighting their customers, the returns are significant and measurable.”
This resonates with our conviction that Customer Loyalty is directly proportional to Customer Experience (each time, every time)
The Whys? (Corroborated by Data)
The data analysis of a study by Eventbrite yielded that 78 percent of Millennials preferred to spend money on experiences in lieu of physical goods. Another example is their willingness to share personal information (a core objective of any loyalty program) in exchange for more customized and seamless interactions with brands.
Further, the recently published Bond Brand report leaves no ground for doubt when it reveals that 81 percent of Millennials and Generation Z consumers are open to having data about their behavior collected in exchange for more personalized rewards and brand engagements.
There is a steady rise in what’s been dubbed the “Experience Economy” and this can certainly be attributed to enhancement in Information Dissemination Technology leading to Higher Customer Awareness (for traditional customer segments) and the Buying Power of the Millennials known for doing things a little differently and how they shop is certainly no exception.
The main drawback of most loyalty programs of today is that they aren’t aligned with those attitudes, leading to growing dissatisfaction with and reduced participation in loyalty programs among consumer segments.
Loyalty research firm Colloquy stated that 54 percent of loyalty program memberships are currently inactive. In order to redesign loyalty programs for an evolving consumer mindset, companies should stop thinking about loyalty strictly in terms of the prevalent practice of points and miles. Instead, they should focus on dynamic, targeted and custom-made loyalty solutions that enhance the brand experience while delivering today’s consumer the loyalty experiences they crave and fancy. This will help reduce the cost of customer acquisition tremendously while simultaneously ensuring that particular brands are top-of-mind when a purchase is made or a service is booked.
Some programs are myopically designed in such a way that they try to reduce the cost of the program by encouraging “breakage” (Points that are never redeemed). This in a way potrays the unethical mindset of the Business owning the program. It will be naive to assume that the customer is unaware of this deceit and con of sorts, and is one of the primary reasons apart from unawareness for the customer’s disinterest in the specific program. This also dilutes the personal objectives of the customer and the business simultaneously.
The ideal program running on an ideal platform would constantly update the customer about their Accrual and Redemption status and at the same time suggest redemption options based on behavior, preferences, and patterns.
Subscribers of such a program are also able to set their Experience Goals with the program and work toward achieving them all within the platform.
Taking care of points 1 through 3 guarantees an optimum level of customer loyalty and tremendous brand recall @ moment of truth
“Loyalty programs were never just about rewards accrual and redemption,” Daniel Farrar CEO – Switchfly
Simply by optimizing and fortifying their loyalty strategies by the use of Novo-technology to generate customer insights and create meaningful experiences, brands today can increase stickiness, brand recall and tap on new earning potential.
Reciproci, a Customizable, Robustly agile Experiences & Loyalty Platform underlined with Hyper Proximity Assets helps brands maximize the value of their loyalty programs.
Reciproci believes in these strategies Brand Executives should use to ensure they’re reaping the rewards of today’s changing attitudes toward loyalty.
Food For Thought
77 percent of Millennials stated that their best memories came from events and live experiences. In the sphere of loyalty programs, this means that organizations need to look for opportunities that will generate excitement and anticipation of future experiences. Doing so will help forge longer-term emotional connections with customers.
Standalone and uni-focus Loyalty Programs are a thing of the past and passé. The Loyalty Program of this age is built on and nurtured by a strong foundation of Customer Experience principles and practices. Organizations that understand this and are raring to become front runners, in this pursuit of the elusive Customer Success that will catapult them towards top seed.
The Tailspin – Are Discounts Eating Into Wallet Share?
Discounting is a reactive tool to primarily drive volumes. You end up catering to numbers (vanity) while neglecting revenues (sanity). With each discounting campaign, you are leaving some part of the customer’s money on the table.
Studies have shown the additional wallet share not necessarily mean the customer is buying more volumes. That means the customer is left with more in their wallet – which they are spending with your competition or other categories you don’t serve.
What does this mean to your loyal customers?
Changing their purchasing behavior i.e. plan shopping during discounts.
Losing focus from WOW experience to ONLY pricing
If this is the case, why is discounting still an accepted practice?
Sale to coincide with holiday or event React to a competitor
Match sale numbers to prior period
To a limited extent, the first point of coinciding with a holiday or event is focused on the customer and can still be partially excusable. The others are simply NOT. They MUST stop. PERIOD,
So what can single or multi-brand retailers do to offset the sales deficit that can likely happen because of a cessation of discounting? Run Stackable Programs.
Pray, tell me what are stackable programs?
Reciproci stackable programs address these enabling retailers to run programs that reward loyalty points to provide the uplift required. The Reciproci stackable programs enable the retailers to personalize the programs based on:
The specific set of stores for accrual and redemption
It can be further fine-grained to drive traffic and marketing efficiencies as desired by a brand manager.
This ensures the wallet share remains with you and proactively drive customer-shopping behavior. Let me illustrate with a real-world example in the words of our customer success team member:
“Buy One Get One Free is a 50% discount, right? Wrong! Learn how.
Reciproci powered stackable point program hit its purple patch with one of the large customers when the analytics reports revealed a “beyond expectations” increase in sales due to an innovative promotional campaign. This campaign not only drives the clearance stock volumes but also created an uplift in the new season volumes. We are happy to share with you the secret sauce of that campaign. Instead of giving a flat 50% cashback, the brand offered 50% of brand points credit back to the loyalty wallet. These points were redeemable against the same brand within the expiry date. Lo and behold, not only did the customer come back to redeem these points, they bought even more. Say, a purchase of $100 results in $50 in the original scheme. In the new scheme, $50 worth points were credited to the wallet. In order to redeem this, the customer ends up buying new stuff that is not on discount for another say, $180. So, the retailer has effectively given a discount for $50 for a purchase of 180, resulting in an effective discount of 50/280*100= 17.8%. The uplift for the new season volume has been 21%”
Loyal customers feel privileged and exclusive with the customer experience and the objective of driving volumes is also achieved.
If you are asked about the last time you delivered impeccably outstanding customer experience, one that was acknowledged by her? And if you are at a loss of words thinking about this query to be platitudinous at best, and cliched in general, then read on.
Would she too, your customer, be non-committal about giving you a thumbs-up for her experience with you?
If the answer to the above questions bears a hesitant “I dunno” or a yes, then you need to rethink your multiple Customer Journeys that lead to an aggregated Customer Experience?
Today’s predominant industry focus is on “Experience Commerce” constituting Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Journey (CJ) – which in principle is to understand and improve each and every interaction that she; your customer has with the business in question. The foundational tenet here is to understand and act on the cumulative impact of multiple interactions over time, many of which occur outside of traditional growth hacking boundaries.
The picture above determines her; your customer’s feeling of a real relationship with an organization. In a recent blog advocating contextual marketing, Forrester Research postulates that it is marketing’s job to identify and use the context of these ongoing interactions with her to create a repeatable cycle of connections, foster deep engagement and apply what is learned during the process to make her future interactions equally engaging.
So what is Customer Experience (CX)?
Customer Experience is the phrase used to describe the relationship a customer has with a business. Customer experience refers to the total of all experiences the customer has with the business, based on all interactions and the resultant thoughts about the business.
Recent Forrester data confirms that 72% of businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority.
“Until you understand your customers, deeply and genuinely, you cannot truly serve them.” — Rasheed Ogunlaru, life coach and author of Soul Trader
And Customer Journey (CJ)?
The Customer Journey encompasses optimal customer engagement through proper management and credit attribution of touchpoints and channels through which the customer interacts with an organization or a brand. The necessity of such an approach arises from the realization that all interaction points and mediums have value in the process and should be stimulated appropriately. Moreover, it tries to create a more holistic view of customers’ behavioral patterns – understand emotions, desires, and needs as well as influences of the company’s endeavors on them.
“As a brand, I find that predicting what a customer wants means that I’m in control and I’m trying to define your customer journey, but when I anticipate, I’m trying to create as much flexibility for you to be in control of your customer journey.” – Jerad Zoghby, Global Personalization Lead & Southwest Agency Lead at Accenture Interactive.
Customer Journey Mapping entails all the touchpoints of a customer’s interactions with a brand. If a company plots this map diligently and empathetically they could create a “magical experience” for her and for themselves increase revenue by providing the necessary information, personalization and engagement by harnessing transactional opportunity at various Moments of Truth along her Journey.
Some of the benefits of Customer Journey Mapping for businesses are:
helping you see where customers interact with your business
focusing the business on particular customer needs at different stages in the buying funnel
identifying whether the customer journey is in a logical order
giving an outside perspective on your sales process
showing the gaps between the desired customer experience and the one actually received
highlighting development priorities
allowing you to concentrate efforts and expenditure on what matters most to maximize effectiveness
Does It Matter?
Customers don’t just buy a product or service, they perceive the entire Journey as an Experience or memory they recall when doing business with the company again.
Irrespective of the location of your playground, every single company generally has an idea about how they want their customers to perceive their brand. This perception defines the ethos and essence of the business.
But when the ground reality hits, the kind of experience a brand envisions is not always what the company is able to deliver. In most cases, it is merely getting the job done. However, the stalwarts of CX know that their level of customer experience far surpasses anything their competition will remotely be able to conjure.
So when she; your customer compares her experiences she will not do it in really quantitative or percentile manner, she will do so in simple but impactful terms like Awesome, Amazing or Harrowing, etc. these words register immediately and creates a tremendous recall when a person referred by her is going to buy a product or avail a service.
Championing Experience Commerce
Capitalizing on these moments, the moments of now, requires that businesses shift their focus from simply understanding what discount and which promotion to offer to her, at various points of her Journey to truly understanding the context of her interactions – what is her intent, how can I engage her, and how can I provide value? And this is the epitome of delighting her.
Google calls these “micro-moments”, which enrich the Customer Experience much fold and although they are not exclusively experiences, new experience platforms have ratcheted up the need for immediacy of recognition and response.
In this day and age, mobile phones are an essential part, part of the anatomy of everyone’s everyday lives. Hardly any person leaves home without them. So it is safe to state that at any given point of time, many of your customers are definitely on mobile, and more importantly you should too, as a business, be where your customers are!…. Are You?
“A good design shows respect for your customer and you’re either respectful of their time or respectful of what it is that they desire, and so it makes it a very fundamental element to everything that you do.”– Penny Wilson, Chief Marketing Officer at Hootsuite
Mobile Apps allow for a richer, deeper, and more personal customer experience, and puts your business on the global playground. It gives an upper hand to the business’ that understands that their customers don’t want to be bombarded with unsolicited messages and now desired notifications, but they do want to be kept in the loop, and this is very tricky as there is a very fine line between the two. Just one proactive, relevant and time-sensitive message can teleport an unsatisfied/disgruntled customer to a star-struck loyal fan, the one that will Influence all the “INFLUENCE” in their purview, about you!
Mobiles today are used to inform, entice and engage customers throughout (before, during and after) their journey, and as a channel for transactions, as well as to ask for and receive customer feedback.
“The mobile channel is emerging as the consumers’ primary choice for all possible service activity.”– Michael Maoz, Vice President, Gartner Research
The mobile platform allows customers to act at the point of impulse. This becomes the quickest and surest way for anyone to react to any call to action today. As mobile has matured into one of the most important channels for consumer and retailer handshakes and interactions, customers have become extremely picky about the apps they use and will quickly delete an app that doesn’t meet their needs and yield immediate value.
Reciproci provides customers with something above “the daily and routine”, really beyond what they would otherwise get from just walking into a physical store. This means #Reciproci is imagined in a way that has been validated to explicitly be both useful and engaging + profitable to the user and business alike.
Fortunately, building an app that meets & exceeds these criteria, in the passing of time seemed both extremely expensive and time-consuming, till the time “we” invested primarily our know-how & consumer intellect, to bridge the gap between the retailer and the consumer.
A high level of creativity and a clear value proposition is required to create a truly beneficial app — hence the relative scarcity of quality apps, that are not uninstalled by the users within 15 days!
Some well-researched grey areas are:
Too much business centricity
The why? Specific points often remain unanswered
Do you need an app, a mobile site or a hybrid variant?
How do customers’ requirements for shop usability and checkout processes change?
What is the cost of acquisition and retaining a customer?
What are your customer messaging and communication plan?
So it becomes very crucial that when you are putting in place your mobile strategy, you have comprehensively thought through the various aspects of :
Understanding and Articulating your (or your customer’s?) Mobility Needs
A strategy is in place that has to buy in of all the stakeholders of your business
What defines a successful mobile app, varies from business to business. Depending on the type of business even the nature of app varies. Having said this, on the whole, there are certain key performance indicators which remain constant howsoever and these are:
Daily Active Users
Monthly Active Users
Cost Per Acquisition
Revenue Per User
Revenue Per Paying User
Return on Investment
The above factors are just an indicative measure on the basis of which an app can be classified as a well-performing app.
Mobile has become the first Moment of Truth between a brand and consumer – A. G. Lafley, former CEO, P&G
Mobile as an extension, allows consumers to act at the point of impulse. This is the fastest way anyone can react to any call to action or initiate a two or multi-way communication with the business. Mobile allows and leads the way of instant gratification for the customer, thus instilling a sense of belonging within the customer, this, in turn, results in comprehensive brand advocacy by them. This subjects the brand to preferential treatment, and they (the customers) expect the same in return each & every time, always progressively hungry for more!!
Why Enhance Mobile Customer Experience?
Looking at the above-mentioned data inputs it is impending that businesses’ harness this trend and become leaders in adding value to their offerings. While focusing on Mobile Customer Experience the business can look forward to:
And this is just the tip of the iceberg!
“To connect with new customers, don’t try to get inside their heads. Get inside their hearts. Create an emotional connection.” – Bill Quiseng, CEx Expert
Since Customer Experience as a principal and practice is directly related to how your business is perceived by the customer and how this experience affects their behavior and loyalty towards your business, it is very important that proactive steps are taken by you to leverage the Mobile CX approach.
Clienteling – the forgotten ingredient for a Superior Experience Mix
Clienteling is an age-old technique that promises to establish long-term relationships with valued customers based on information about their preferences, behaviors, and purchases. This aspect becomes crucial and acquires a new meaning and outlook in the ever-expanding PhyGital world (a mix of Physical+Digital) of today and tomorrow.
Remember shopping in the days gone by? Wading across the market place was a “charming” experience in its own right, as you knew the shop owners and they valued you. If you needed something, you went to the store and compared several different options. The shopkeeper instantly identified and greeted you, called you by your name or nickname in certain instances, asked about your family, remembered your last purchase and offered helpful suggestions and reviews. Soon enough, you completed your transaction and walked out with your desires in hand, no wait times, no queues, and above all a satisfied smile on your face, knowing you got “more” than what you wanted as you experienced personalized service from a “friend”.
Now picture a scenario in the present times! You have walked into your wife’s favorite store and are struggling with the task of buying her a gift. You are instantly recognized and welcomed by the sales associate who walks up to you with an iPad powered by Reciproci’s Store Manager’s App and effortlessly pulls up all the key information about your wife that has been collected and stored, during their past interactions with her. This is also coupled with a wide-ranging comparative view of other purchases she made. Thus, with this know-how coupled with the help of the knowledgeable associate, the dreary and risky task of choosing the right gift for her is simplified and tends delightful.
The variable in both the scenario is the service provider. One is banking upon his memory and a lot depends on if you are in his good books, in short, a major part of the Experience is individualistic and personality-driven. The second scenario, on the contrary, is enhanced by technology, enriched by data and governed by processes and professes the model of the customer and mobile-first approach perfected by Reciproci. This, in turn, guarantees a seamless holistic and delightful experience for all and sundry regardless of who they are or where they walk in life. They are customers first and so they are recognized and cherished.
Exane BNP Paribas reports that interactions based on mobile clienteling “are expected to equate to about 40 percent of the luxury market’s growth by 2020.”
Also, consider this: A recent survey indicated that a full 48% of shoppers today believe that they know more about the product they’re looking for than the sales associate helping them. Another reason you need to enable your store’s employees with knowledge about the products, information about the competition and insights about the customer!
In the times today, that of volatile marketplaces, cut-throat competition, fading practices of price protection, customer evolution and their potently higher levels of awareness it becomes paramount that Retailers reflect on lessons from the past and leverage their most critical and crucial arsenal – their physical stores and sales associates. Reciproci (watch the video here) believes that retailers today, have to determine a way to conjure the magic of the past and once again make the store the center of the wholesome brand experience. They should be servicing the customer in a micro personalized manner so that their patrons leave the store having had a positive experience and with a positive association for the brand, always looking for the first opportunity to return, Hungry for More!!
Reciproci’s long term commitment and endeavor into the Experience Commerce domain has provided us with deep insights into this vivid but elusive landscape of better and impactful clienteling. Sharing our “Sutra” to help formulate better clienteling practices enthralls us no end.
Each Clienteling effort should be encapsulated with the principles of the LEARN model that are further enhanced with seamless Technology, Data Analytics and Human Interaction, in such a manner where every touchpoint that acts on the behalf of the Retailer (management, foot soldiers or gizmo) is empowered as depicted here:
According to a CDW white paper on retail technology “Retail outfits that deploy clienteling solutions can offer deeply personalized service and interaction to customers, and see the welcome gains as a result amounting to more frequent shopping visits, higher transaction values and improved loyalty all accrue in clienteling scenarios.”
Reciproci believes that the correct clienteling technique and its wholesome transition into a robust strategy, coupled with synchronicity and installation of technological advancements will factor considerably in enticing, engaging and retaining customers. Through fortification of communication skills and channels, attention to details, agility, and adaptability with advanced retail technology crafted by Reciproci, retailers can deliver an optimized indelible CX that makes each customer feel like their only customer, is in accordance with their palate, meets or exceeds their aspirations and ranks top-notch on gratification.
The Mobile Applications Connect:
Reciproci’s employee-facing mobile apps and the powered devices, empower associates with real-time information and the suggested required actions. Simultaneously the customer-facing apps further enable brick-and-mortar businesses to push relevant and time sensitive promotions to shoppers, the minute they walk in the door. Businesses can also lean on apps to offer customer service, drive mobile sales, provide loyalty incentives and solicit feedback.
Image: Store Manager’s App depicting customer profile, past purchases etc. and in-store movement
One of the main challenges with this clienteling approach is ensuring that retailers and shoppers both download and retain the store app. Reciproci enables retailers to overcome that obstacle without even breaking a sweat. The engaging content, the way it is delivered in, time sensitivity and gamification mechanics further ensure that the customer never gets bored of the app.
Mobile app based clienteling will go a long way in driving revenue and building the types of long-term customer relationships that retailers need to thrive. In simple terms the epitome of the commerce of the future.