At Marketing’s recent Customer Loyalty 2014 conference, several global and regional brands spoke about how they were keeping their customers loyal to the brand.
In a digital age where consumers increasingly expect everything to be done instantly, how can brands increase customer loyalty?
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1. Engage customers
The problem with loyalty programmes is that consumers don’t actually get value from brands they are loyal to, said Namita Mediratta, the global director of consumer and marketing insights at Unilever.
She talked about getting tactical with customer loyalty efforts and surprising customers. “The element of surprise in loyalty is important. Think of McDonald’s toys or Kinder Surprise.”
She also gave the example of Coke’s campaign, when it worked with agencies so consumers could print their names on Coke bottles, calling it an effective online campaign.
This may be helpful for industries that have longer customer life cycles as well. Chen Peng, general manager of Aimia, said such brands may want to try tactical ways of increasing frequency of interaction with customers for industries that have longer customer life cycles, such as cars, for example.
2. Make it convenient for them
Apart from merely delighting consumers, consideration must be put into making a service convenient for them.
“Delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty – reducing their effort does,” said Vijay Venugopalan, head of CRM and UC practice for AMEA at BT Advise, emphasising the need for firms to look into their practices and make things easier for consumers to work with them.
“If you make them wait a long period of time, it reduces their satisfaction and makes it harder for them,” he said, talking about how the consumer would eventually hate the brand.
Brands should also take the chance to then make the processes work for themselves. “You need to make it easy for you too and that helps eliminate costs. What is the charge? What do you want to achieve?
3. Use social media wisely
While social media is a must-have for most brands, consideration must also be put into assessing how it is used. For example, only 1% of users are influenced by likes and +1s.
“Think about whether this really affects loyalty,” said Wong Wan Ling, a consulting and strategic marketer for the banking and technology sectors.
Wong added: “Invest in more social media channels only if you have the resources to maintain them.”
Tanya Watia, COMO Hotels’ global director of CRM and partnerships, highlighted the demands of social media, and staffing that demand.
“Social media does not end after our day jobs. Social media response comes in lightning speed. You need someone who can respond to it. And you need a generalist. You can’t have someone who only responds to marketing. Customers don’t care … there is no such thing as office hours for Twitter and Facebook.”
4. Get rid of useless data
The next question is making good use of data, including that from social media.
Watia talked about the challenges of using data correctly.
“You can gather thousands of likes, but what does that mean to your business? You have this many negative posts compared to positive, what do you do with it? The systems have not been configured to record these indications as a form of data points yet.
“If you have issues tracking them in the first place, how do you find them as a data point within the system?” she asked, highlighting the challenges many face with integrating social media data with other CRM data.
She also shared how brands needed to clean up the existing data and get rid of unnecessary ones. “There is a need for a central IT system where all the data is clearly presented.”
Others suggested small and simple ways to tackle the data glut.
Santosh Katti Sudheendra, marketing director of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, said most companies actually have the data they need in-house, but it was a matter of asking the right questions and the right people.
He warned against outsourcing data without proper insight. “If you simply dump your data with an analytics firm, it’s garbage in, garbage out. You must explain the business problem.”
Added Hywel Evans, regional director of decision science at Aimia: “Analytics is often seen as a toolkit for answering questions, (and should) not (be) a predefined way of doing things.”
5. Choosing strategic brand partners
Ajay Mohan, director of partner marketing and sponsorships, consumer marketing and sales, at Intel Asia Pacific and Japan, talked about how choosing the right partners could yield results for brands.
“Two plus two is better than one. It becomes an interaction engine, a whole affiliation process. They can make the conversation bigger and more meaningful for the customer,” he said, adding this would build on the strength of both brands.
“One plus one is not two, it should be three or 3.5,” he added, talking about the effectiveness of such partnerships.
Both Mohan and Brenda Pek, head of marketing and events for Asia Pacific at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, agreed on the effectiveness of using such partnerships for brand loyalty.
Pek talked about Rolls-Royce’s strategy of working with other brands for the luxury sector to reach out to more targeted audiences.
The conference was sponsored by Aimia and eBay Enterprise as gold sponsors and CPR Vision as a sponsor. Read the full report in Marketing’s May edition.