We toss around the word loyalty often.
Whether it involves friendships, relationships, sports teams, pets, retail, or restaurants, we hear and use the term loyalty regularly and it means different things to different people.
In retail just about every company has some type of loyalty program.
Whether it’s free or paid, standalone, wrapped in a credit card, single or omnichannel, a loyalty program is a mechanism companies use to build customer loyalty.
So, what is a true loyalty differentiator?
Given the unlimited retail options consumers have today, let’s look at how the human experience shapes your personal loyalty moments.
Why Retailers Have an In-store Advantage
Brick-and-mortar retailers have a significant advantage: Your frontline employees.
These are your REAL brand ambassadors who can deeply impact customer decisions.
It can be as simple as someone saying: “Welcome to our store.”
Whether it’s delivery of information or the ability to read a consumer’s body language, your in-store associates are truly the ones selling your products and your brand message.
They can make or break your brand experience with any customer they engage with.
It’s important that in-store associates are confident and excited because it impacts the customer experience.
Effectively educating and training your associates is crucial.
Investing time with your associates can pay huge dividends in the long run.
In turn, the associate builds relationships with customers who will continue to shop and advocate for your brand.
The amount of time and effort put into equipping your associates and getting them excited will directly translate to more customer engagement down the road.
Loyalty is about creating and sustaining relationships, and not just collecting email addresses for your loyalty program.
There Are People Behind Ecommerce, Too
Even if you’re an online-only retailer, you still have the power of people.
The ecommerce customer service department serves as a lifeline for online-only retailers and their customers.
In many cases after a customer makes an online purchase, he or she might have some questions.
Your website’s FAQ section can answer some questions, but not all.
By speaking with a brand agent before or after a purchase, he or she can assist your customers with those questions that can’t be answered in the FAQ section.
The goal in customer service is to ensure that members are happy with the product, and confident they will receive the best customer experience possible.
Premium Loyalty Takes a Different Customer Service Mindset
When talking about premium loyalty, there needs to be a different mindset that involves a deeper level of engagement.
For example, Clarus provides branded loyalty customer service on behalf of all our retailer partners and they have full access to a team of loyalty experts.
With our branded customer service, the vendor becomes an extension of the brand. It’s all about bringing customer service to a new level.
Learn more about branded customer service here.
It starts with no IVR (interactive voice response) system. Our retailers’ program members only speak with actual people to discuss their loyalty inquiries.
I sit next to our Customer Experience team and there really is a difference.
Sarah, who sits across from me, recognizes many of the phone numbers coming in, has built a rapport with those members, and truly cares about the outcome.
Sarah is not the exception. Everyone follows those same principles. It’s refreshing because it’s the right thing to do and serves as a big reason why customers feel the difference with a premium loyalty program.
In this digital age where we are moving to platforms with higher efficiencies in selling and service, there remains that personal touch which can deliver an emotional experience, spark greater loyalty, and build long-term brand advocacy.
Humans Convey the Best Your Brand Has to Offer
According to the 2019 Premium Loyalty Study, nearly 70% of consumers agree their loyalty is more difficult to maintain than ever before while 88% agree retailers could do more to earn their long-term loyalty.
Differentiating your brand with a premium loyalty program goes a long way in solving these two key statistics. And your people play a huge role in that.
Elevating your customer engagement with educated and confident associates, both in-store and online, is vital to acquiring and retaining loyalty program members.
Emotional loyalty often stems from exclusive experiences and benefits, but it’s the human touch that makes them unique.
Don’t you want your associates to present customers the best your brand has to offer?