The real challenge is engagement across many channels
By Stuart Evans (ICLP)
Loyalty strategies were initially only focused on incentivising customer behaviour. Then brands woke up to the need to, and value of, collecting data to build insights. However, this is now coming full circle.
Successful pure-play online brands already know a lot about their customers, even where they don’t have a loyalty programme in place. Online transactions automatically capture personal details that can be cross matched to other data sources to build customer profiles. The loyalty challenge here is building and maintaining customer engagement. Similarly, for multi-channel brands, the challenge is to understand how customers interact with them both online and offline and how loyalty can act as a bridge between both.
For example, having realised the importance of nurturing its ‘omni-channel’ customers, John Lewis installed Wi-Fi in its stores to facilitate price comparison and product research in-store. Having introduced a policy that allocates all online sales in a set geographic radius from its stores against the performance targets for the local store, John Lewis not only provided an enhanced offering to customers but avoided conflict between its channels – a smart use of its data.
HMV has also incorporated free Wi-Fi in-store to integrate loyalty online and offline, as part of the launch of My HMV platform. Consumers entering the store will automatically receive a welcome message from My HMV, inviting them to join the programme. The aim is to make the brand experience more personalised, enabling shoppers to gain instant access content via the online platform, such as music streaming and reviews, whilst in-store.
Today’s customers have a 360 degree view of your company, not the other way round. They expect to have a consistent, value-added and interactive multi-channel customer experience across both directly controlled and indirect channels to a brand. Customers increasingly expect brands to not only have a presence on their social networks, but to use them to engage and feed their needs for interactivity and instant gratification.
Starbucks recognised this through the launch of the @MyStarbucksIdea initiative in the US – inviting customers to submit ideas on how to improve the business via Twitter and crediting the successful pitches on their blog. With over 70,000 ideas submitted in the first year, the successful strategy ensured customers felt empowered and part of the brand experience, building their confidence in the brand.
This paved the way for My Starbucks Rewards loyalty programme, enabling customers to redeem points and benefits for each transaction made with a Starbucks Card. Through developing this further to offer payment via mobile through the Starbucks App, the brand has ensured the customer remains engaged with the brand experience across numerous channels, and importantly, customer data is captured to allow the brand to make more personalised offers in the future.