With a tumultuous 2017 winding its way down, it’s easy to see how the instability of global markets might make the idea of growth a complicated one. Whether it is a direct response or a trend which would have happened nonetheless, it is unity and shunning divisiveness which will help strengthen us in the coming year.
While this is true for the culture at large, it is no less applicable to how you as a business interact with your customers. Showing yourselves to be a brand which is reliable, moral and understanding will be a mutually beneficial practice allowing you to forge unity into the next year and beyond.
At Social&Loyal, we look at the customer loyalty trends meeting us round the corner and how we can use our loyalty programs to make sure we make the right impression.
Customer Loyalty in 2018 is Inclusive
Whether your customer loyalty program gives out a free smoothie for every 5 bought or you run on a complicated tier-based system with platinum level awards given out at the top, all customers need to feel valued. Customers understand the basics of reward schemes, that they should get out what they put in, but it needs to make sure, whatever level they are at, they are being catered to.
With such high levels of competition, not to mention the increased perception of the customer themselves, brands need to ensure this inclusivity extends everywhere. If your brand appears to be excluding anyone, then you will be reprimanded. This is particularly the case in the age of social media.
This affects your customer reward scheme also. In customer loyalty, you will need to show that you value loyalty as much as you do custom. Rewards will need to be attainable and go beyond discounts. They will allow the customer to feel they are affiliated with a brand which respects their values and wants to work together.
Another aspect of this will mean building brand ambassador programs and affiliate marketing programs alongside your reward schemes. This inclusivity extends to your employees as well as customers. As we head into 2018, the lines are blurring between the two. You will want to make sure your employees are well taken care of because their influence on the customer is a resource which has been underused in the past.
With so much of our lives lived online, we can live vicariously through much of the content we view on smartphones, tablets and laptop screens. This means that experiential reward is at a much higher premium.
Customers will develop loyalty with your brand if you are able to show them that investing in your product or service will lead to a fulfillment which is more than the physical or the ephemeral. Customers want to be rewarded with experiences which feel like a payoff.
These experiences can take many forms. You can host events, everything from conferences to club nights, and have a segmented reward program which honors every level of customer loyalty.
Deciding on what these experiential rewards are relies on using your customer loyalty program to assess what kind of experiences your customers value. Through social media you can see what events your chosen demographics are attending and take yours further. You can see what is trending and help this to inform your ideas. And, of course, you can ask directly with surveys and feedback endeavors to let your customers get right to the meat of the matter.
Gamified Rewards are Even More Important
Segmenting your reward scheme for your customer loyalty platform can be a tricky one. You want to have something for customers to aim for, but you don’t want to alienate those who don’t meet the points scheme or move to another tier.
Fortunately, there are ways to encourage the customer in the right direction so that they see the worth in advancing with your customer loyalty program. This also means having the right software to facilitate such advancement.
Your reward scheme via your customer loyalty platform should reward lots of small actions, not just having chunky and awkward large goals. Player’s will lose interest in a computer game if there is too much action without moving forward. It is partly due to so many distractions vying for their attention, but it is also because games are played for these micro rewards.
Your customer loyalty program works in a similar way. Customers need to make sure they are rewarded for even small actions so that they can move towards making the bigger ones for your mutual benefit.
These actions can also have different rewards at the same time. Creating a social media post which includes a hashtag for your brand can be a smaller one. Making a referral through a friend or colleague should be one of your bigger goals.
Respecting the Customer’s Emotional Intelligence
It is a trend which has been developing alongside the information age, but 2018 sees even greater steps in this direction: the customer can no longer be talked down to. Customers are not lemmings which can be taken to your cliff of brand loyalty. They are emotional beings which will see your brand in kind.
Respecting the customer’s emotional intelligence means showing them that, although you still want to make money, you won’t do it at the cost of their own personal brand. Online currency isn’t just Bitcoin and Ethereum, its social responsibility and personal culpability. This is bartered through the various ways customers can all promote themselves and their own lifestyle brands.
When it comes to your customer reward program, you will need to provide your own emotional intelligence by having rewards which show how mindful you are of the customer’s landscape. You can do this by having rewards which donate to causes close to their hearts. Again, your customer loyalty platform should be able to tell you where your customer demographic would really appreciate your focus in this area.
You can also provide them with gifts which will respond to their emotional needs. If your customer views family as of great importance, rewards which bring families together are the kind which will be even more valuable in the coming years. In this way, it shows that your brand is interested in investment and unity the same as your customer base.
If you want to learn how your brand can use loyalty program software, set up a free consultation with our loyalty experts today!