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Creating Engaging Loyalty in 2024 and Beyond

Creating Engaging Loyalty in 2024 and Beyond

In the world of retail, customer loyalty is the holy grail. Companies the world over strive to establish and maintain a strong customer base that not only keeps coming back but also spreads the word about their brand. The question is, how do you achieve this elusive loyalty? Through the power of personalization.

What is personalization?

Personalization is more than just a buzzword; it's a strategic approach that can transform your business and the relationships you have with your customers. We believe that the Golden Rule - treating people how you would want to be treated - sits at the very heart of personalization and that if you successfully execute this to your customers at scale, the results will speak for themselves.

Personalization is about showing customers that you care by being as relevant and as helpful to them as possible. Consumers have less time and more choices than ever before, so the more a business can support them as individuals in navigating the world around them, the more they will respond. Businesses must acknowledge customers’ individuality and preferences. In doing so, not only will you significantly improve the customer experience, but you will do so at a lower cost, as personalization is the most effective and economical way to drive the customer behavior that you seek.

In today's world, personalization isn't a luxury; it's a necessity. Regardless of the industry or channel, personalization has to be a vital component of any loyalty program.

Becoming a Loyalty Company

To succeed in the modern omnichannel landscape, you must shift your perspective. You should view your business as a loyalty company, not simply a company with a loyalty program. As Pano Christou, CEO of Pret a Manger, explained when I interviewed him whilst writing the 2nd edition of Omnichannel Retail, loyalty should be the essence of your brand and its mission.

Today's most successful loyalty programs are integrated into the business as a whole, offering a mix of rewards and recognition that appeal to both the hearts and minds of customers.

Starbucks and Loblaws are two fantastic examples of businesses who operate as loyalty companies. Their customer engagement programs span every aspect of their business, providing a personalized companion to the customer throughout their journey. With higher expectations and less patience than ever before, customers expect your brand to understand their needs and simplify their shopping experiences - something that Starbucks Rewards and PC Optimum both do incredibly well.

The Demands of Modern Customers

We believe there are seven core demands that customers have when it comes to truly engaging, modern loyalty experiences.

  1. Make it relevant: Customers want personalized experiences. Use the data your loyalty program generates to create insights, which means you can take personalized actions to individual customers to drive the behavior you seek.
  2. Make my life easier: Customers value convenience. Use the digital connection you have established with your customers to make it better and easier for them to do business with you rather than any of your competitors.
  3. Make it fun: Gamification is all about turning something boring into something fun. Engage customers with novel tactics which enhance their experience whilst also driving value-added behaviors.
  4. Make me feel smart: Successful programs make customers feel smart for participating. Ensure that you position the value exchange between you and your customer front and centre of your proposition, and take every opportunity to showcase the value you are delivering to every member through their participation.
  5. Make it now: Contextual personalization is becoming increasingly important. Every customer action should trigger a relevant reaction, rewarding their behavior "in the moment".
  6. Make it more than you: Expanding your offering to enable customers to earn or redeem value via non-competing partners can significantly increase customer advocacy and drive long-term engagement.
  7. Make it more than me: Customers appreciate businesses that drive positive social change. Doing good is good business. Ensure that your wider corporate social responsibility efforts are deeply integrated into your loyalty proposition.

In a world where customers demand personalization, convenience, and value, loyalty programs that deliver on these expectations are poised for success. By embracing the power of personalization, your business can build a loyal customer base that keeps coming back for more.

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