Optimising the customer experience to encourage allegiance

 This post is sponsored by Epsilon.

Customers are reporting lower levels of loyalty than in the past – 59% of high income consumers surveyed in Asia Pacific indicated they were less brand loyal now compared with before. So, if customers are less loyalty-driven, does that mean loyalty programmes are becoming obsolete? Quite the opposite in fact. A well-marketed loyalty programme can drive both customer retention and new customer acquisition for your brand.

A financial services client recently approached Epsilon looking for strategic advice on how to increase customer engagement with their rewards programme. While the programme itself was well established and compelling, customers weren’t regularly engaging with programme -related communications. Epsilon provided the client with a strategic direction on ways to optimise programme communications to drive repeat customer engagement.

Are you ready to step up your loyalty game?

Regardless of whether you already have a formal loyalty programme or not, we recommend you take the following action to foster customer loyalty:

Make an emotional connection through seamless CX: Every marketer should strive to provide a consistent and optimised customer experience across all channels – but to achieve a truly strong connection, you should leave nothing to chance.

Map and understand the full spectrum of touch-points that comprise your customers’ experiences and manage those interactions so they not only address customers’ expectations, but also connects to their emotions.

• For underperforming elements of your touch-points, develop a test and learn plan to determine what customers respond to. For our financial services client, Epsilon identified specific email campaign types that were underperforming and proposed a detailed test and learn strategy to develop known-truths about what worked for the client’s rewards programme. But this practice of test and learn should apply throughout the customer journey in both physical and digital spaces.

Leverage social listening to do a pulse check of what your customers and their peers are thinking and talking about on various social platforms.

Get personal: Customers who are just “satisfied” are far less likely to refer and make repeat purchases and are more likely to have greater price sensitivity. Remember those high-income consumers who reported lower levels of brand loyalty? Well, 70% of the surveyed population in Asia Pacific, noted that having a personal connection with a brand is a key factor that contributes to their loyalty. We recommended that our financial services client layer in personalised content and communications into the business-as-usual rewards programme’s marketing efforts.

• Get the basics in place, and then deliver extra on top. Execute on the basics exceptionally well and reduce common customer frustrations throughout the experience. This foundation allows market leaders to layer on extra communications and promotions to create connections that strengthen the customer’s engagement with the product or brand.

• Use data and science to understand your customer. Achieving a balance between the reality and the perception of their customer experience is critical. Leading marketers take time to understand how the human mind interprets experiences and forms memories, and use that knowledge to create more positive and loyalty-enhancing customer impressions.

• Test different surprise and delight offers for VIP customers (research has found Millennials respond best to surprise and delight promos compared with other generations). But while promotions do help drive conversions, not all customer appreciation efforts need to be promotional – globally 72% of affluent customers wanted brands to show they appreciated their loyalty. A thank you note campaign will allow customers to feel appreciated and your brand to seem more customer-focused and human.

Consider the full life cycle: Think about where your customers are in their life cycle. What support do they need at any given moment? If this seems overwhelming, identify a few key customer personas and implement specific touches that will benefit each of them.

• After analysing our financial services client’s customer engagement data, we identified key segments that needed extra attention – 33% of their customer file had been inactive with rewards campaigns for at least four months, while 22% were very engaged. Based on the findings from this analysis, we were able to develop a needs-based action plan. The end result was an enhanced marketing calendar that still included standard communications, but also factored in life cycle-specific versions and dedicated life cycle campaigns to drive specific actions.

Don’t forget to celebrate moments such as birthdays, brand anniversaries, customer anniversaries and holidays. Not only does this allow the customer to feel special and appreciated, but it will also give your brand more engagement opportunities in the customer life cycle with a chance to be relatable and human.

And finally, while we focus on customers, don’t forget the strong link between the customer and the employee experience. Employee programmes that nurture and engage your employees encourage them to connect in a positive manner with customers – who, in turn, react and connect back with employees in a positive way. This cycle of positive connection cannot be overstated, and it’s why the most successful companies address both the employee and the customer side of the customer experience.

To learn more about how Epsilon can help you develop stronger connections with your customers contact Jeff Evans on jeff.evans@epsilon.com or contact Epsilon on apac-info@epsilon.com.