How to Build an Outstanding Customer Loyalty Scheme
In today’s competitive marketplace, where businesses everywhere have to contend both with other high street retailers and those who sell online, it can be difficult to get ahead. And a key element to staying in business is customer loyalty, which has seen businesses up and down the UK launch their own loyalty schemes. Complete with online accounts, plastic cards and keychains, loyalty schemes are popping up everywhere, but despite the numbers, how many of them are actually beneficial?
Research from marketing and data specialists GI Insight has shown that 94% of people in the UK have joined at least one loyalty scheme. However, roughly half of those have admitted to never using the scheme. With statistics like this perhaps showing that loyalty schemes aren’t as effective as companies may have hoped, it begs the question; what do people really want from the schemes they join?
When it comes to increasing and maintaining customer loyalty, businesses need to ensure they are recognising their best customers, and rewarding them for their continued custom. Many loyalty schemes fall flat because the company in question simply didn’t do their research - you have to dig deep and figure out what your customers want or need.
So, what do loyalty scheme users really want?
In order to find out more about what would inspire businesses to join a customer loyalty scheme, Love Energy Savings spoke to nearly 200 people from across the UK to discover what type of B2B initiative they would prefer and how they would like to be rewarded. When asked the question; ‘If you were to join a loyalty scheme on behalf of your company, which would be the most appealing?’ 58.51% of respondents said they would prefer a Spend Programme, where rewards were given based on the amount spent. 38.83% chose a Points Scheme where they would receive rewards based on points earned, and just 2.66% selected a Tier-Based Scheme, where rewards would be given based on the account type.
On the other hand, when Love Energy Savings conducted a second survey speaking to the general public, 52% of respondents said they would prefer a Points Scheme when asked the same question. This is compared to 38.4% who opted for a Spend Programme. It just goes to show that B2B and B2C loyalty schemes are very different beasts, and it further underlines the point that brands cannot afford to adopt a blanket approach to setting up a loyalty programme - they need to be tailored to suit the end user.
One of the biggest components of a loyalty scheme are the rewards themselves, and while the survey type may differ between business-to-business and business-to-consumer, it appears that the preference of awards is largely in agreement. As part of their survey, Love Energy Savings asked participants of both surveys; ‘What reward type would be the most appealing to your company?’ The majority of people in the business-based survey (60.64%) selected a discount product or service, with 38.83% choosing a tangible gift. Similarly, 59.5% of people in the consumer-based survey also selected a discounted product or service, with 28.7% choosing a gift.
These findings translate into very real data that businesses can use when it comes to setting up a customer loyalty scheme, to ensure they are hitting the mark and making a real impact. As mentioned above, the competition is fierce when it comes to retaining customers. Any company can just roll out a loyalty scheme for the sake of it, but those who let the meaning behind it fall by the wayside run the risk of driving their customers through the doors of their competitors instead. Rather than trying to build a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scheme, the survey results from Love Energy Savings show that businesses offering loyalty schemes should hone their offerings to ensure their current customers remain loyal, and that new ones are attracted.
How to stand out from the crowd
Make goals clear and achievable
One of the quickest ways to deter your customers from ever returning is to offer exciting rewards but place them out of reach, or if your scheme is so complex that customers are unaware of how it works. Unfortunately, many retailers fall into this trap and it can cost them return customers. Keep things simple when it comes to your scheme, and make the information easy to find, such as on your website.
Let your imagination run wild when it comes to the rewards that your scheme offers, but remember to keep your feet on the ground. If your scheme’s goals are unattainable then your customers may be put off from returning. In this case, think about what you would like when it comes to a scheme, or speak directly to your customers about what they would prefer; they are your best source of information.
Great customer service
Whether you deal with customers face to face, over the phone or even by email, ensuring that they have a great experience is an integral part of ensuring they return. If they leave your conversation happy, they are more likely to return. When you are integrating your loyalty scheme into your business, also take a look at how the overall shopping experience can be revamped to make the customer feel good.
Take Love Energy Savings for example. When a business customer compares their energy tariff, a dedicated manager will handle their account and the transaction from beginning to end. This manager will keep the customer updated throughout the duration of the contract and will contact them when their renewal is approaching, ensuring they always receive the very best deal.
As well as always trying to go above and beyond, friendly and helpful staff should make the customer feel happy and welcome straight away. Customers should be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily, and any problems should be dealt with swiftly.
Go the extra mile
If there’s one thing that keeps customers returning to brands time after time, it’s when they are made to feel special. Although you may be offering regular rewards as part of your scheme, don’t be afraid to go a step further and remind them to return through added incentives. Competitions are a perfect way to do this. In fact, 78.19% of participants to the B2B loyalty survey stated they would take part in free competitions if they were offered as part of a loyalty scheme.
Not only are loyalty schemes a great way to gather data on what customers are buying, they can also be used to personalise offers. If your data shows that there is a product or selection of products that are regularly bought by a particular customer, you could offer unique discounts on that product. An added little gesture such as this doesn’t take much, especially when you can access the information already as part of your scheme, and it shows you truly care and appreciate their custom.
This tip works particularly well for companies that are involved in business-to-business loyalty schemes, as nothing is better for your business than word-of-mouth reviews and referrals. While people who love your brand may talk about you, nothing is a better incentive than an extra award as part of your loyalty scheme?
It’s a win-win situation for businesses; small rewards for referring a friend or new business simultaneously says thank you to your loyal customers, whilst also gaining brand new ones. Unique deals, coupons or gift cards are just a few great ideas that could give you the edge over your competitors.
Building the perfect loyalty scheme
As we’ve mentioned above, there is no blueprint or set way to build a loyalty scheme; it all depends on your business, the service you offer and your customers. The findings from the Love Energy Savings survey shows that people know what they want from a loyalty scheme, so why don’t businesses just ask them?
Don’t just roll out a loyalty scheme for the sake of it. Instead, take the time to discover what your customers would want from a scheme and tailor it to suit them, rather than blindly follow what everyone else is doing. Going the extra mile for your customers, either through exceptional service or incentives, is the perfect way to keep them coming back to you again and again, rather than through the doors of your competitors.