Are you a business owner wondering how to increase yield? A budding marketing professional curious about how you can engage your target market? Brand manager looking for ways to win the heart of your customers or just someone with loyalty issues?
I hope this blog post can help you.
Aside from being a blogger, I'm also a marketer by profession and just like any marketing professionals, I am really curious about how we can turn customers to brand ambassadors and evangelists. As a blogger, I also realized that the lesson about customer loyalty is not just applicable to businesses but also to blogs and online community. I hope by sharing what I learned you can also get valuable inputs on how you can attract, engage and keep customers for your businesses and in someways for your blog too.
I summarized the key points shared by the speakers using the building blocks above for easy reference and discuss each block below.
Customer journey is very important and it is not the task of one man in the company to be able to identify the stages and map it out. By carefully looking at your customer journey, you are able to look at each touchpoint that affects the way you deal with your target. You are also able to identify what are the possible hindrances, address the challenges and come up with a solution proactively and not just on a reactive mode. Customers always want a great service so make sure that when you map out your journey with your brand, you are able to put systems in place and have customer recovery in place at every touchpoints especially after sales which is commonly forgotten or disregarded by others. Remember, you want to gain the loyalty of your customer and you can only do that through repeat interactions and continued engagement it is only imperative that you know what your customers go through when they make business with you. Think about their moment of truths, pre and post transactions and not just during the actual sale.
Unique Buying Situation dictates brand choice. To be honest, it was my first time to hear about this concept and I'm happy that Jojo Ajero explained what it is all about. He shared that UBS affects loyalty. For example, you are an avid Max's customer but near your office, you only have Jollibee and with only 1 hour lunch break, you might as well choose Jolibee where you can have your order in a few minutes over Max's where you might wait for a while until you have your table. Because of the customers' unique buying situation, brand choice is affected. More than the branding and marketing communications, one must also consider the operations in order to understand the customer's UBS and come up with an appropriate resolution.
Surprise your customers from time to time, you'll never know how it can positively affect their lives and their love for your brand as well. Sometimes we tend to be more comfortable with people around us that we forgot to give them something or do something fun for them. More than the monetary value, it is really the thought that counts. I remember at Avenue Plaza Hotel, a simple gesture like greeting the guests on their special days made them feel special. Leon Legothesis, one of the global adventurer/author/TV host I follow surprised me last year when he sent me a copy of his book with dedication. Simple things and surprises can make costumers feel closer to your brand and somehow it can also make them share the good things about you to their family, friends and networks. I really like this Christmas surprise and who knows, our local airlines can do something like this too. If you haven't seen this video last year, you can watch it now. :-)
Touchpoints are very crucial that is why you must always differentiate and personalize it. Michelle Patel expressed that touchpoints are so basic and must be in place before you execute any customer loyalty program. You must be able to identify what is the ideal customer experience for every touchpoint, come up with an acceptable requirement and ultimately give it a "signature touch". Mark Mullinix also said that customers are generating data especially when they are at your store so it will be helpful if your touchpoints are equipped with the right skill and knowledge on how to process and analyze it to be able to come up with valuable inputs for your campaign
Offer something exciting, fresh and something new to your customers, added by Mullinix. He stressed that discounts and sales are not always the answer. In a survey result, he said that while it is true that 90% prefers cash discount, without it people start to factor in service. This only means that "offers" should not be limited to sales promotions. For customer loyalty, check what really matters to each tier and craft that offer to specific segment.
Manage painpoints. Top management must be able to identify not only the touchpoints but also the painpoints. What hinders customer to fully experience your brand promise? Look at your customer journey, check if you can enhance the sequence of touchpoints and eliminate painpoints. Train and re-train your staff. Evaluate their performance and be consistent with the delivery of your service while not forgetting about the need to identify your customer painpoints which results to irritation, disappointments and even anger. Do you know what hinders your target market from engaging with you? What makes your customer hate your brand? Can you identify the things they dislike about you? If you get to know the painpoints and answer these questions, it will be easier for you to turn your weakness into strengths and increase ROI in the end.
Engagement is needed not only to attract new customers but also to maintain them. Acquisition is more expensive than maintaining customers yet many marketers forget to engage with their customer base after the acquiring them. Andrew Roth emphasized that direct connections with customers through mobile should be the #1 priority of businesses right now. Smartphones and phablets are always in our hands so businesses must be able to come up with a mobile campaign that can increase engagement. Thinking about building a mobile app?! No, that's not the solution. As Roth explained, you must consider what loyalty and engagement means to your brand. Take advantage of the costumers' usage of mobile and engage them to give you more information, generate feedback as well as rewards. During the #LoyaltyConExPh I noticed that some of the exhibitors prepared interactive games in order to engage the attendees to give them date. After the conference, they also email and tried to communicate using the applicable platforms. In terms of engagement, it is important that you constantly communicate and do it right.
Relevant communication. Communicate.Communicate.Communicate. DO IT RIGHT.
You need to say the right message to the right market at the right time using the right channel in the right tone. Yayu Javier emphasized the importance of constant communication with customers based on their profile and behavior. Andrew Roth also mentioned about 1-to-1 email instead of mass email which many marketers are guilty of doing. Communicate, not only to your customers but also to your employees and team members. Mitchelle Patel said that many businesses roll out campaigns without explaining the "whys" to their employees which results to customer dissatisfaction and in worse case, loss in business.
Leverage service. One must constantly protect what makes your business unique and service is a big factor. As Patel mentioned, businesses must conduct regular review and must not be afraid to change the game. Look at Starbucks. There are many other coffee shop, offering coffee and pastries yet Starbucks was able to dominate this market because of their signature service. If you don't like how the barista prepared your drink, you can tell them and it will be changed. Upon entering the shop. barista will call you on first name basis if they already know you and even if it's your first time to visit the store, they always have that big smile and energy to acknowledge your presence.
Offline engagement is as important as online. With the online buzz, some marketers forget about the importance of in-store and offline interactions. We must learn how to integrate and marry all our efforts across all channels to optimize efforts and achieve desired results.
Yield. At the end of the day, companies aim for costumer loyalty because it keeps the business alive. Many still believe in the Pareto Principle but only few knows who are the 20% that makes up for 80% of sales. In order to have a yield, everyone must look at the operations and not only in the marketing side. As shared by Mullinix, one can look at the Recency, Frequency and Value (RFV) to grow your existing customers. Jojo Ajero also concluded that a company can only make money if it knows how to together 3 things; Business model, Demand model and Core Competencies.
Aspiring rewards also motivates people to marry your brand. When thinking of loyalty campaigns and programs, make sure that you have something for each tier. Do not only focus on acquisition but also focus on retention. Make it more enticing for your target to be part of your program. It is better to have point system because people aspire for rewards compared to rebate system or money back where people have the tendency to switch because it is easy for them. Make rewards enticing, not too easy yet not too hard to redeem. As advised by Yayu Javier, it is ideal for points to be redeemable within 6 months. Personally, my Top 3 favorite reward program include the Laking National Card of National Bookstore, Starbucks Card and also the Happy Plus Card program by Jollibee and its sister companies because earning points is not complicated and I can easily redeem the perks & rewards. So far, even though I always use my SM Advantage card, I don't really feel its effect aside from occasional discount. Maybe I should check how I can optimize it.
Location, though important, does not mean that it is everything. I've heard many entrepreneurs that considers location as the #1 factor in putting up their business. With the fast changing behavior of the customers, it is important to note that marketers must also consider these psycho-geographic variables shared by Jojo Ajero:
YOUnique. Sometimes, no matter how tedious and demanding, you have to reward and recognize your most loyal customers one by one. Yes, it might be hard to compile all their preferences but the key to personalized service is attention to details. When you are able to manage your touchpoints and train them to be skilled in collecting data your customers generate and you track it, personalized customer reward and recognition won't be impossible to do. Going back to email blast, it is easier now to send triggered email when you use the right software. This means being able to send a newsletter with your customer's name and not just the generic Mr.&Ms. You can also greet them on their birthdays and special occasions. Imagine what would your customer feel if you are able to recognize them and address them personally. In the hospitality industry, this is commonly practiced by properties with world class standard and focus on excellent service and I don't see any reason why other industries shouldn't do it. Starbucks also give you the chance to personalized your coffee and the barista will treat you warmly. In this age of information overload and seamless communication, your message will likely be noticed by the recipient if its directly addressing him and makes him feel special even in little ways. Focus on making your customers feel unique and important, the same manner you project your uniqueness among your competitors. Let the story of Million Mile Joe inspire you. :-)
Overall, customer loyalty is not impossible to achieve. Using these insights and building blocks I shared, I hope you will be able to find your own ways to build your customer base and continuously grow it. Please remember that it is not the sole responsibility of marketing and top management but you must also engage every stakeholders in your company to make it happen.
As for my solesearchingsoul blog, I will apply what I've learn and map the user journey to make this blog and my other website more engaging for you and to your networks. I'll work on some reconfiguration to make browsing easier and come up with more relevant contents too. As for the rewards and perks, I'll be having a grand giveaway so stay tune as you join me in my sole searching soul journey.