2020 has been one of the most challenging years ever for customer facing businesses and those in the business of customer loyalty. We have had restrictions placed on the food and beverage industry, the travel industry and of course high street shopping, to name but a few who have all suffered.
Unfortunately, as we all started to think that the UK was starting to get on top of the global Coronavirus pandemic, it seems to have fought back with a vengeance, presenting additional challenges and halting our march along the road to recovery.
However, in the face of adversity, we have also noticed opportunities to embrace the situation and re-engage with customers. Many organisations have been changed their approach and been more innovative in how they have managed their customer loyalty schemes.
In addition, innovation in this sector comes in many guises and much of that is not in the offerings you give to your customers but the way you give it and timings around that value add. So, with that in mind we have identified the best ways companies can innovate without having to fundamentally change their offering.
Relevance and value
One of the key reasons for being part of a customer loyalty scheme is that it is relevant to you and adds value to your life. For example, you shop at Sainsbury’s and therefore you collect points to get discounts in the future.
However, when your business is no longer relevant due to circumstances outside of your control, how do you adapt and maintain your relationship with every customer?
This was a challenge that Uber faced this year when Lockdown kicked in. Taxi rides simply dried up overnight. Luckily, they had recently launched their food delivery service and were able to automatically switch focus on to that. They offered vouchers and discounts to existing Uber customers and also expanded their range to provide groceries and other household goods.
Other companies were slightly ahead of the curve. Curzon Cinema group have managed to weather the storm as they were already providing their members with access online to the latest films as well as screening premiers and exclusive content. This has added value to every member and maintained their relevance during such testing times.
Since the start of the global Coronavirus pandemic, there has been lots of empathy towards consumers and businesses alike who have struggles to make ends meet. One of the hardest hit sectors has been travel and given the uncertainty this looks set to be the case for the foreseeable future.
We have written in the past about how Airmiles and airline loyalty schemes have paved the way for customer loyalty. Now as passengers all over the world have been grounded, the airlines are facing a new challenge to be both relevant and of value to their customers.
A great example of this how this has been done is by British Airways who have taken the approach of Empathy. They know that thousands of their customers have missed out on holidays and other travel plans. They also recognise that status on their Executive Club is especially important to many. Passengers have been loyal to the airline in order to collect tier points and gain silver or gold status and they don’t want to lose it because they can’t travel.
British Airways is aware of this, and has such, extended the tier timeframes so that (hopefully) passengers can take advantage of their status and maintain it for the following year. They have understood the importance of status and also the collection of Avios points and now allow passengers to trade in their cancelled flight vouchers for Avios.
Without wanting to back the drum of doom and despair – we all aware that the next year is going to be tough as society comes to terms with living with Covid-19 and the economy looks for ways to recover. But that presents an opportunity for brands to engage and add value to their customers.
During the pandemic free gifts have been an extremely popular strategy for customer engagement. Brands have always done this but not necessarily shouted about it. However, now we are seeing more brands go back to this tried and tested formula of surprising their customers.
If you are a Greggs’ rewards customer via their app you will get a free voucher for a cake or doughnut on your birthday. If you are part of the Krispy Kreme Rewards' programme, based on the data you give you will get a free doughnut on your birthday and they have gone one step further by giving each of your kids a free doughnut on their birthday.
With both these offers, if birthdays fell during the Lockdown then the vouchers can be redeemed later giving you a reason to get back in touch with the brand.
Free gift doesn’t just have to be for birthdays, they can also be for reaching certain milestones with the brand. The Space NK* loyalty programme has been more innovative in the way it rewards its customers. Not only do you earn points for spending that can be redeemed for a free gift, but earn double points when you spend online or in stores for your birthday, plus a free gift which you can pick up in store (find your nearest*) or add to an online order. In addition, they keep this offer fresh by changing the free gifts on offer monthly.
Technology and partners
Finally, given the importance on maintaining the relationship with your customers, it is vital to get your backend right. From the CRM system to the way you process and personalise data, this is key to maintaining the right level of relationship with each and every customer.
Covid-19 has also made everyone re-evaluate their online customer experience. Be it by building the site in house and offering your own products as a reward or working with a provider such as Xexec who deliver seamless customer reward portals.
The key is the get the right technology and partner for your business so that the experience in seamless, the rewards are of value and you remain relevant to every customer, regardless of what happens over the next year or so.
To find out more about Xexec’s Customer Loyalty offering and how we can help build you a value-added programme, click here. Alternatively, to read more about best practice in customer loyalty, download our eBook – Employee Engagement and what we can learn from Customer Loyalty