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It’s no secret that happy, loyal customers are your business’s most valuable asset; a loyal customer is worth up to 7x more than a new one! For that reason, consumer-facing companies find it essential to have some type of customer loyalty program. From the ubiquitous and tech-savvy Starbucks App to the paper punch card at the cafe down the street, there’s a solution available for every type of business at every price point. But with so many different loyalty programs out there, how do you know which one is best for you (and your customers!)? Consider these different points as you search for the things you want in a perfect customer loyalty program.

1. What should the customer experience look like?

While the customer might not always be right, customer experience should still always be the priority in a great loyalty program—after all, a loyalty program with a bad user experience simply won’t get used (see, for example, the plastic loyalty card… how many of those have you lost?).

However obvious customer-centricity sounds, most loyalty programs fall short in this regard—as a result, most Americans are members of 26 loyalty programs, but only actively use about 10 of them. When programs are hard to use (or even just unpleasant to use), customers won’t use it. Scanning an app, entering in a phone number, or having to remember an additional “loyalty card” is a recipe for failure. Anything that makes your guests do extra work won’t survive their scrutiny, or their unwillingness to jump through hoops (remember this: everyone, including your customers…is lazy).

2. How am I collecting customer data?

The next priority is collecting customer data that you can actually use. This is one of the main issues with the old-school punch card: your best customers would consistently fill up the punch card, but there would be no record of who they are. Without that information, how do you reach out to that customer if they stop coming in as frequently? Without customer information, there’s no way to identify your VIP customers, or to know when these high-value customers start “churning”. A loyalty program that collects and stores the data when your customers transact with you can be used to help brands reach out to their customers with personalized communication that comes at the right time and drive more business.

The next priority is collecting customer data that you can actually use. This is one of the main issues with the old-school punch card: your best customers would consistently fill up the punch card, but there would be no record of who they are. Without that information, how do you reach out to that customer if they stop coming in as frequently? Without customer information, there’s no way to identify your VIP customers, or to know when these high-value customers start “churning”. A loyalty program that collects and stores the data when your customers transact with you can be used to help brands reach out to their customers with personalized communication that comes at the right time and drive more business.

The next priority is collecting customer data that you can actually use. This is one of the main issues with the old-school punch card: your best customers would consistently fill up the punch card, but there would be no record of who they are. Without that information, how do you reach out to that customer if they stop coming in as frequently? Without customer information, there’s no way to identify your VIP customers, or to know when these high-value customers start “churning”. A loyalty program that collects and stores the data when your customers transact with you can be used to help brands reach out to their customers with personalized communication that comes at the right time and drive more business.

Customer data can also help brands identify their VIP customers, which for most brands represent a significant portion of revenue (for restaurants, retailers, and car washes, typically 25% of your top customers make up almost 70% of revenue). Reaching out to VIPs and keeping them loyal is the most cost-effective way for brands to maintain their base of revenue.

3. How will I reach my customers?

Collecting customer data is only half the battle; to find the value in the data, it needs to be used.

One way to do that? Use your data to segment and personalize messages to your best customers. When your customer loyalty program prioritizes delivering you actionable data, you can have access to information that makes it simple to run powerful communication campaigns (like bringing lapsed customers back in, or sending timely offers and messaging to VIPs).

For example, behavioral data can be leveraged to identify customers who used to be loyal but are at risk of churning. With Thanx, our merchants automatically reach out to those customers directly with a targeted offer to bring them back in (after all, it’s 7X more cost effective to drive an incremental visit from an existing customer than it is to bring a brand new customer in). Customer data makes that type of highly targeted messaging possible.

4. What resources can I dedicate to my program’s success?

Traditional loyalty programs aren’t always easy for businesses to use. From implementing additional hardware at the POS, to training staff on complex redemption methods, to manually pulling data and trying to interpret it… so many customer loyalty programs promise results but just provide headaches.

A great loyalty program is as elegant as it is simple, and is only as effective as your resources will allow. So, a labor-intensive program that requires constant monitoring and input to drive success isn’t a great long-term solution for a team that’s focused on other initiatives. Find something that’s simple and doesn’t require extra steps for your staff, in addition to something that doesn’t demand IT resources to set up and maintain.

Whatever your decision-making process looks like, be sure to take the time to figure out what program works best for both your customers and your staff. Check out our free guide on how to choose a customer loyalty program: Customer Loyalty Buyer’s Guide

 

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