Connect, connection, and connected.
These are all words we use on a regular basis, especially when we’re talking about customer loyalty.
Before the digital age, when customers shopped at their favorite stores, they were often unrecognized. Not by face, but by frequent shopper status.
There were no email or phone number captures at the register, no rewards key fobs, and not even credit card information that could track your purchases.
Brands couldn’t connect with their customers outside of their stores, so they weren’t able to connect with them on a personal level that would impact their buying decisions and brand loyalty.
Today we’re about as connected as we can be in every sense of the word. Because of that, brands are building various types of customer connections that weren’t possible years ago.
They’re paving the path to creating customer loyalty in a few different ways.
You’re Connected With Consumers
According to recent data, 81% of Americans own a smartphone. That’s up from just 35% eight years ago. Most of us, across multiple generations, are connected to the Internet.
We’re connected to each other almost all day via instant social updates and email with distance no longer a barrier.
We’re actively connecting to brands whether we’re interacting with their posts on social, seeing their ads more frequently than we see commercials these days, or browsing a brand’s site because an idea popped in your head and you need to find the items on your list.
The time when it was almost impossible to connect with consumers in daily life doesn’t exist anymore.
Mailers and commercials aren’t the only paths to keeping the flame lit these days. Brick and mortar aside, consumers are available for brands to connect with all the time now. We’re also out there discovering and connecting with new brands that match our beliefs and values.
A Transactional Connection
Since the dawn of time, we’ve connected with brands through transactions via in-store, phone, and by catalog.
Over the past decade and a half, the amount of purchases made online has clearly increased. And the amount of data brands are collecting on their customers has also increased.
Most brands have so much data they don’t know what to do with it. They’re even gathering more information on in-store purchases than technology allowed many years ago.
When you get to the counter and the associate inputs your email or phone number, they’re not only tracking your purchase, but they’re possibly entering your information to see if you have rewards available to use.
They want to make your trip to the store worth it by leveraging the information and giving you the best possible deal. On top of helping you around the store and giving you a deal, often you’ll get an offer for something different that will be valid in the next couple of weeks to entice you to return.
A Personal Connection
Customer service has always been considered a differentiator way before the abundance of consumer data was available. Now, offering a personalized customer experience is the differentiating factor.
As a Starbucks Rewards member, I always get that personal connection.
When the barista scans my app when I’m ordering and calls me by name when they say have a good day it is a much more personalized experience compared to other coffee shops.
For me, that’s always a special and memorable experience.
When I go back to a brand’s page and see all new products I might like based on the data they have on things I’ve browsed, this keeps me on its site longer and makes me more likely to purchase.
This feel-good, personalized experience engages me and deepens my brand loyalty.
A Memorable Connection
Beyond social media, site personalization, greeting me by name, and enticing me with valuable offers when I shop, brands are making a memorable impact by connecting with me in personalized ways on the channels that I use most.
Brands have immense amounts of customer data available and more opportunity than ever to personalize experiences to naturally create loyal customers.
Whether I’m at their store, researching on my phone as I’m waiting in line somewhere or just at home on social media, brands are using that data to connect with me.
Brands have opportunities to create customer loyalty by building different types of genuine connections that weren’t always an option.
What will you do today to make the most of your customer connections?