Looking Past the Points to Deliver the Connection Customers Need
In the retail industry, neither behavioral loyalty nor rational loyalty—the habit of returning to a store to shop based on convenience or price, respectively—are as powerful motivators as emotional loyalty, which is built on a foundation of strong, personal connections to a brand. In fact, emotional connection and sense of trust with a retailer is the second most highly-cited reason why customers make purchasing decisions, putting emotion ahead of price considerations—which is why 70% of customers who feel a strong connection to a brand spend up to twice the amount as those who do not.
One of the best mediums by which retailers can forge emotional connections with customers is a customer loyalty program. But in order to optimize customer loyalty programs to encourage true emotional ties, retailers must move beyond traditional points and discounts to establish a system that enables lasting, personalized engagements with customers at scale.
Here are three ways to transform transactional customer loyalty programs into emotional loyalty builders:
- Create opportunities for customers to connect with in-store associates.
In a survey of shoppers, 74% reported that they are more loyal to a retailer if they are able to talk to an actual person when they need assistance, not a machine. In order to encourage in-store encounters with sales associates who can provide personal support and expertise, retailers should strategically incentivize customers to visit the store via customer loyalty programs.By using advanced customer engagement software to combine data on a customer’s location, browsing patterns, purchase history, local time, and more, retailers can encourage customers to stop in and speak with a sales associate. Whether a customer loyalty program allows users to log their interactions with salespeople as a means to finding their best-fit shopping assistant, or whether they simply gain loyalty points for engaging with a store associate, they can be strategically engaged to do so when they are close to a store.For example, if a customer who recently returned an item purchased online is now in the vicinity of the store, they might receive a notification from the store’s loyalty app: “Jill, find the right fit in-store and redeem your loyalty points! An associate is waiting to assist you.”
- Offer exclusive deals on items that customers are actually interested in.
Many customer loyalty programs offer strategic deals on products that are overstocked or out-of-season, but few offer personalized deals based on shoppers’ actual interests. By presenting customers with exclusive offers for the items they prefer—not items that are convenient to move out of the store—retailers can rapidly establish a personal connection with customers.Customer loyalty programs that tailor their deals based on a shopper’s interest require access to customer purchasing history and browsing data, as well as the Machine Learning (ML) technology required to make accurate predictions.For example, if a customer is browsing a retailer’s selection of boots online and ends up in the store a few days later, their customer loyalty app would not push them a random deal or reminder; instead, it might deliver a message that reads: “Carl: Thank you for being a loyal shopper! Enjoy 15% off men’s boots. Shop our selection now.”Not only does this personalized deal encourage a sale, but it also encourages customer loyalty program members to trust that a retail brand understands and strives to meet their personal needs.
- Amplify and promote the voices of real customers.
Customer loyalty programs that promote true emotional brand connections are not designed solely to facilitate communication between a customer and a retailer; they can also elevate customer voices to enable shopper-to-shopper connections. A key way that loyal shoppers voice their opinions is via online reviews and ratings. By allowing customers to access and react to this source of input, retailers are enabling organic brand discussions to spring up around their offerings.For example, a customer may find a sense of community in a weekly round-up of insightful reviews delivered to their inbox; or, they may connect with a like-minded customer on a customer loyalty app message board. Relevant reviews can even be strategically pushed to customers in real-time—as a customer views a specific handbag online, they may be greeted by a personalized pop-up window:“Beth, 8 trusted customer loyalty program members rated this item with 5 stars. Click to read their reviews.”Customer loyalty programs that shine a spotlight on real shoppers allow members to hear and share authentic input about the products they trust.
Ultimately, using next-gen engagement technology to transform customer loyalty programs into hubs of real-time personal connection is not only beneficial for customers—it is one of the most productive ways for retailers to create a loyal following of dedicated customers who share an emotional bond with their brand.
ZineOne’s Intelligent Customer Engagement (ICE) platform strategically builds customer loyalty by personalizing everyday brand interactions and optimizing opportunities for emotional connection, at scale. Find out more about how our ICE platform can transform your retail customer loyalty program with intelligent loyalty- and revenue-building strategies today.