Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Is your loyalty program Functional, Emotional and SOCIAL?


All this time and resources you have been spending in running your loyalty program but still your program fails to deliver?. For most of the companies in Middle East this is quite a common scenario.


Your company does not require a higher budget or resources to get your loyalty program moving it just needs the - STITCH

There are three basic elements which determine the success and failure of your  loyalty program. It  is its functionality, its emotional appeal and its Social reach.

Functional
Sadly, many programs are still mainly reward schemes that do not have the functionality and, sometimes the internal support to develop real customer loyalty. Reviewing several platforms I discover that they actually can deliver greater functionality than the program offers.
Customers and employees increasingly need more and more flexibility and speed in CRM platforms.
Employees want software that's as fast and easy to use and customers wants the points/rewards credited to their account immediately without additional delay or actions on their part. Failure to achieve this results in loss of transaction, data and ultimately loyalty.  

Emotional 
There is an emotional connection between a brand and an individual. It's what we talk about when we speak of "brand advocacy". It's what marketers’ dream of. And it's a mammoth task to achieve in a business/human relationship. All of us can name a few examples of companies that elicit this level of loyalty (think about Apple, Nordstrom and USAA, for example) and each of us has specific merchants and service providers that we're emotionally connected to.
Emotional loyalty doesn't require rewarding transactions, although that might be a component of a company's overall loyalty plan. So how do you make your loyalty program emotional?
The answer lies in the way a brand communicates with its audience online, offline, directly or indirectly. Just by sending a happy birthday message to your customer is not emotional communication but delighting him with a gift (without requiring him to make any purchases) will make your communication emotional. Do not forget Loyalty is a Human behavior and needs to be instigated.

Social
This is one of the important elements of your loyalty program.
Many programs are now rightfully targeting their audiences through social media but this trend still needs to be adopted by the loyalty programs in Middle East. Global trends in access to mobile technology has meant that the better programs and platforms now provide sophisticated back-end links for messaging and communication with smart phones and social media sites like face book and twitter. This not only attracts the existing customer but also helps them making them your advocates to their friends and family. By giving them an easy tool to tweet, post pictures, videos or comments or pins you just make their life easier. It also reduces your communication costs, and your effort to acquire a new customer.
However you have to give your customers a reason to sing your praises. This sounds like common sense but is certainly not common practice. Influencing incentives (other than purchasing your product) is the key to trigger to social advocacy.

Combining all sets of data from transactions to interactions across all mobile and digital channels is more holistic way to truly understand loyalty of your customer.

So if you are successful in stitching these three elements seamlessly of your loyalty program you are sure to have got your basics right and will achieve a better ROI.

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