In the UK alone, 660 000 new businesses are registered every year, so there are likely to be plenty of brands with similar products and services to yours. In this highly competitive market, connecting with customers and differentiating your brand through an engagement programme can be a powerful way to establish customer loyalty.
Studying the behaviour of your customers by observing the data your loyalty platform generates will help you to understand your customers better and personalise your engagement strategy. 56% of customers stay brand loyal to companies that just "get them", and 75% of customers say they favour companies that offer rewards. But, to get the most out of your engagement programme and ensure that your efforts are helping to reinforce those critical emotional bonds between brand and customer, we'd like to share a few tips for creating a comprehensive, ROI yielding strategy.
1. Use the engagement programme to train your sales channels
Your salespeople and channels are the folks who take care of your customers; they are, essentially, the face of your company. Without up-to-date knowledge on developments in your product line and any promotional offers they can pass onto clients, they may lose sales and experience difficulty in retaining customers.
Your engagement programme isn't just for end-users; it's also a helpful tool to share information and updates with your distribution channel. Use the rewards platform to create a training hub; users can log in and interact with the content they need to learn in order to enhance their product or process knowledge. Training can be made fun and exciting with quizzes and surveys that boost engagement.
Ultimately, your salespeople will enjoy greater job fulfilment, gain more confidence when selling and deliver an improved customer service. What's more, when your distributors are well familiarised with your products, they can easily make recommendations that align with their customer's values, helping them to reinforce those relationships. All of these directly affect how your customers feel about your business. Reliable, resourceful distributors will always present your business in the best light and help to keep that brand consistency going from start to finish.
2. Ask customers how they feel about your brand and products
If you don't ask, you'll never know. Getting feedback from customers is one of the best ways to ensure that your brand continuously lives up to their expectations and delivers the range of products and services they need.
Your engagement programme should incorporate surveys or allow participants to leave comments and suggestions after a purchase. The feedback may not always be stellar, but once your customers or sales channels notice that you take their opinions seriously, they'll appreciate your concern and proactive approach to resolving their issues. Big promises and clever slogans mean nothing if they're not backed by action and, in some cases, an apology when things have gone wrong. When you engage with your customers on this level, you humanise your brand and reinforce the connections even more.
Your rewards and recognition platform can utilise surveys or have a section for customers to rate products and service delivery; your team can then use this data to make strategic improvements. You may even be able to identify gaps for new products or service offerings. Salespeople are a fantastic source of information as they're often close to their customers and the first to know when something needs attention.
3. Personalise the customer's experience
Earlier on, we mentioned competitors. They're out there, and there's plenty of them. They may even use the same distributors as you and have very similar business models. But do they give their customers bespoke experiences? Do they contact their customers regularly with tailored offers? Do they remember to say happy birthday and maybe pop a discount voucher in their customer's inbox for the occasion? These are all things you can do with an engagement programme, and the best part is that you can automate the tasks by using the platform's AI.
Differentiate yourself by making your B2C interactions stand out. In the retail sector, for example, 36% of consumers feel that more could be done to personalise their experiences.
At Incentivesmart, we're proud to provide our service to one of the country's most trusted brands for bathroom accessories, showers and taps. In this particular industry, manufacturers will often distribute their products via a range of channels, from big industry traders to small boutique bathroom stores. As a result, the company struggled to gain insight into the purchasing decisions installers and end-users made. By incorporating an engagement programme, the company was able to collect data around demographics, purchase reasons, and whether the buyer was an installer or direct customer. The business could then use this information to tailor its marketing campaigns and offer better content for distributors to pass onto customers and help them to gain even more value from their purchase.
Customised support and product offers that make buyers feel like individuals encourage loyalty. The proof's in the stats: 80% of customers will support a brand that provides personalised experiences.
4. Communicate with helpful information to provide value
Ultimately, your customers want to know that they're spending their money on a brand that's trustworthy, reliable, and service driven. If you don't offer any further value past the point of sale, your buyers may feel a little short-changed. It's important to teach them how to get the most utility out of their purchase and how they can continue to gain more value from your brand in the future, either through upgrades or complementary products and features.
Understanding your buyer and their unique circumstance is crucial before you start sending out content that may not quite resonate. 91% of shoppers want to receive relevant offers and recommendations. And watch out for millennials, 70% of customers in this group get frustrated by irrelevant emails.
Use the data you collect from your engagement programme to understand how customers are interacting with your brand. Remember that not every contact point is an opportunity for you to sell something. Perhaps you trade in a specific industry, that means you're likely to be very knowledgeable on the uses and features of the product or service you've sold and are in a great position to help the customer experience the full benefit of their purchase. Send them interesting information and helpful application tips. Customers will appreciate the support, and they'll feel like they've spent their money at the right place.
5. Take the chance to upsell
While it may not always be the appropriate time for hard-sell tactics, there will often be opportunities where you can enhance the customer's experience by making them aware of an available upgrade. Your customer loyalty platform can help here by hosting a section that provides information on upcoming new releases or add ons. If your products or services are subscription-based, be sure to send a friendly reminder near the end of the contract to enquire about the customer's satisfaction level and whether they would like to renew.
Perhaps the buyer's situation has changed, and their needs are expanding; your engagement programme will help you to see the customer's purchase history and enable your sales team to make recommendations based on the type of product they've bought and what other complementary offerings you have available in stock. The information you gather from the platform can give you insight into what to offer as an upsell opportunity.
We know that offering rewards to customers who take a desired action helps to reinforce positive behaviour and strengthen relationships. For this to be a success, however, your customers have to be comfortable with using the platform, and the rewards have to be easy to obtain. If there are too many hoops to jump through, the reward may lose appeal for the customer.
To boost loyalty, make sure that your existing customers enjoy greater exclusivity when it comes to rewards compared to new customers. This sends the message that you reward commitment, and it helps to make your evangelists feel appreciated. Brand loyalty is a valuable asset; it's essential to recognise the clients who have been with you for the long haul.
7. Analyse disengaged customers to optimise the programme
Adopting a philosophy of continuous improvement should be one of your first commitments when implementing an engagement programme. While every effort should be made to ensure that the platform is designed for success, consumer behaviour always changes over time. You'll naturally find that some customers are more receptive to your engagement tactics than others. For this reason, it's essential to study the metrics and make swift and effective decisions to optimise your programme.
Check how frequently customers log in. Do they engage with your content, leave comments, ask questions, and self-educate through your surveys and questionnaires? If you find that specific customers are tuning out, it may be time to reach out in a personalised way and find out what you can do to improve their experience. It may be something quite simple, for example, the customer may love your brand, but the rewards you offer don't appeal to them. Eventually, this customer may get tired of not receiving anything worthwhile from you, even though they purchase regularly, and they may wish to try a different supplier.
It's vital to quickly identify and eliminate any bottlenecks that may be limiting the customers' positive experience of your brand. When they see that you are taking proactive steps to include them in your loyalty programme, their willingness to participate and engage will quickly improve. With Incentive smart, your customer will be earning points, meaning they can choose their own reward and won't be limited to a one-size-fits-all gift or voucher.
There are multiple advantages to having an engagement programme. For example, increasing your retention rate by just 5% can boost your profits by as much as 95%. To capitalise on the significant opportunities this investment provides, however, you have to make sure that it's simple to use and appealing for your particular audience. Your engagement platform will help you to keep customers who share your brand values and build on successful relationships that generate even more organic sales for your business through referrals and positive feedback.
Download the checklist and discover the 12 crucial differentiators that are important to consider, when choosing the right customer loyalty platform to support your programme.