FedEx Express Asia Pacific has solidified its reputation as a well-known express service provider in the region for over three decades. It was recently a finalist for Best Regional Loyalty Campaign and Best Engagement Strategy – B2B, and awarded silver for Best Loyalty Programme – Launch / Re-Launch, at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2021. FedEx was awarded for its efforts in executing a revamp of its My FedEx Rewards programme, after experiencing a slow uptake in its loyalty programme.
Lynn Tan (pictured), lead, strategic marketing and demand generation, FedEx Express Asia Pacific, Middle East, India and Africa, told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that on top of being digital-first during the pandemic, it also provided support to its customers who needed support in understanding the market changes that were happening; especially for small and medium businesses.
"What has surprised me most is how many brands have found it challenging to demonstrate loyalty to their customers in times of uncertainty," she added. Tan also explained how "strategic loyalty alliances" can help brands during times of crises such as the pandemic.
This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners' and finalists’ interview series for Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2021. To find out more about the awards, click here.
How has your marketing shifted in 2021 as we come to terms with the pandemic?
Tan: As an essential service we have been operating throughout the pandemic, to keep the world’s supply chains going. At the onset of the pandemic, we focused our marketing priority on maintaining connections with our customers and supporting the experience they provide their end-customers. While our marketing strategy had already taken on a more digital-first approach, we had to pivot to provide not only reliability in services, but also consider the human impact to businesses during this period. This is particularly true for small and medium businesses, who need support to understand what market changes are happening, when they are happening, and how business partners such as FedEx can help them to keep the lights on.
We also worked to ensure our small and medium business thought leadership resource, FedEx Business Insights, was updated with actionable and topical tips and advice around SME business recovery through the pandemic. Now that economies across the region are slowly bouncing back, our focus continues to be to empower our customers in the new normal, and enable smarter, connected commerce. To this end, we are also spending more time and resources in providing new innovative tools and support to customers who are looking to accelerate their business transformation (be it through an eCommerce, hybrid, or a local brick-and-mortar model), or looking for support to revitalise their businesses and expand globally.
We recently concluded the 2021 FedEx Asia Pacific Small Business Grant Contest, where we recognised four outstanding small businesses in the region for their innovation, grit, and persistence in solving some of the world’s most pressing issues. Four companies from Singapore, the Philippines and South Korea shared a prize pool of US$69,000, each receiving a grant to accelerate their growth across the region. This was also the first year we have worked with Forbes Asia to celebrate 100 future-ready small businesses and start-ups for their contribution across a variety of industry sectors.
What was one shift in consumer behaviour in the loyalty and engagement space that surprised you?
Tan: What has surprised me most in terms of consumer behaviour is how many brands have found it challenging to demonstrate loyalty to their customers in times of uncertainty. When difficult market conditions or unexpected events such as the pandemic hit, businesses cannot always keep up on their spending; this then shifts the focus onto how a brand can be supportive of their most loyal customers.
It is critical for brands to support their most loyal customers. When a customer is loyal to a brand, they are more likely to recommend it to their peers (almost 90% will do so), and may stay with the brand they are loyal to, even after one bad experience.
According to Gartner, customers who experience value-enhanced service interactions are more likely to stay with a brand. However, consumers and customers today expect value to come from more than excellent services and product. They expect a brand to be able to empathise and act in ways that acknowledge their loyalty, and their ongoing experiences with the brand. This is not just about the “feel good” factor, but tangible outcomes that can positively impact consumers. As KPMG puts it, “loyalty programmes can no longer consist of formulaic, transaction-based exchanges between brands and customers.” Brands need to do more, and marketers need the right mix of tools and people to deliver a truly personalised loyalty experience.
With My FedEx Rewards, we work with Epsilon to take pre-emptive actions for each market to ensure service continuity, as well as to preserve our relationship with our members. One such example is to suspend all points expiry and provide customers with a “return to business” incentive that can help alleviate shipping costs when they are ready to ship again. The message we shared was simple – we are here for you, like how you have always been here for us.
With so many options, how can brands build up loyalty with their consumers and stand out?
Tan: Our customers’ needs have changed significantly in the past 18 months. Even if you are a business laser-focused on providing a superior customer experience, there is always room to improve and opportunities to grow. One such opportunity is to modernise your loyalty programme from a standard “earn and redeem” model to one that is more dynamic, personalised and intuitive. There are many approaches available, to name a few:
- Building strategic loyalty partnerships
- Epsilon "Launch and Learn" approach and contactless loyalty
- Gamification and mobile app
- Instant rewards
- Retargeting and omnichannel strategies
Strategic loyalty alliances require a strong ecosystem of players – players who can translate business needs into action, and who understand market trends and the voice of the customer.
A successful alliance always involves having a clear vision of what “loyalty” means to the team, what success looks like (both internally and externally), and most importantly, what’s in it for the customer. Because at the end of the day, our customers must be the ones who benefit most from a great loyalty programme.
Another way to stand out is to make the membership process transparent and as seamless as possible. While loyalty programmes catered for the individual is commonplace, rewarding businesses, and their employees and customers, require a deeper understanding of what works best for such businesses. Making the membership programme easy to understand and participate in are key success factors too. Taking these into consideration, the relaunch of My FedEx Rewards this year has ensured that customers can sign up online, simply ship to earn points, and access all rewards via a market-unique rewards catalogue.
What can we expect from your brand in 2022?
Tan: The agility of small businesses has been astonishing, especially when it comes to eCommerce. We have seen legacy brick-and-mortar stores shift to e-tail, fine-dining restaurants popping up on food delivery apps, and traditional manufacturers retooling to move with the times to support hygiene-critical infrastructure that rely on motion sensors and hands-free technologies. Businesses, small and large, must have the capability to transform their way of working and anticipate their customers’ needs to stay afloat.
Consumers continue to redefine the way they shop. They expect brands and e-tailers to offer convenient, flexible and technologically advanced experiences. Our interactive eCommerce solutions such as FedEx Delivery Manager International allows e-tailers to offer their customers the freedom to manage delivery preferences. E-tailers can provide their customers with delivery tracking and the ability to customise the schedule and location of their deliveries. Added security and convenience goes a long way in boosting consumer confidence and loyalty for the e-tailer.
Whether you are a shoe start-up, making compact and stylish foldable flats, a manufacturer of essential machinery parts or a family-run cosmetics company that loyalists swear by, chances are there are those out there who support you. We want to make sure that we help our customers give their loyal customers a reason to come back again and again.
FedEx serves both B2B and B2B2C businesses, and our loyalty programme is aimed at business owners and their employees. What this means is to have a loyalty programme that not only rewards the business but also the people who are the everyday driving force behind the scenes. My FedEx Rewards aims to make every delivery rewarding, and we are committed to delivering seamless and highly personalised experiences that are fundamental to ensuring customer loyalty well into the future.
With My FedEx Rewards now available in the US, Latin America, My FedEx Rewards will continue to bring these experiences to more small and medium customers across AMEA in the coming months.
#LEAwards 2021 highlight: FedEx's loyalty strategy takes flight with brand awareness push
FedEx announces commitment to carbon-neutrality by 2040
FedEx Express shows off its skills arranging a panda's chartered flight to China
BBC inks deal with FedEx Express to create global trade TV series
Singtel wins big at the Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2021