Social Business Zone is brought to you in partnership with:

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing, Chris is the cofounder of Successful Workplace. He believes there’s no end to what we can change and improve. Chris is a marketing executive and flew for the US Navy before finding a home in technology 17 years ago. An avid outdoorsman, Chris is also passionate about technology and innovation and speaks frequently about creating great business outcomes at industry events. As well as being a contributor for The TIBCO Blog, Chris contributes to the Harvard Business Review, Venture Beat, Forbes, and the PEX Network. Christopher is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 304 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Relevancy, consistency and control add up to loyalty

07.15.2013
| 967 views |
  • submit to reddit

Anyone paying attention realizes we’ve “discovered” loyalty programs all over again over the past several years. Once the stuff of hotels, airlines, and some retailers, loyalty seems to have no boundaries today as everyone gets into the game.  But like many things that become ubiquitous, the original meaning and value gets lost in the rush to look like everyone else.

To meet the real goals of customer loyalty, brands need a few things that are a bit more nuanced than punch cards and points. Loyalty is about delivering more contextual and relevant engagement to customers, more consistent messaging across multiple channels, and providing greater control or convenience to the customer.

Before we talk about those three concepts, what’s really changed in the loyalty game is the use of technology to understand the customer enough to relevant, to be ‘always-on’ and consistent and to allow customers to manage their own preferences 24 x 7 x 365.

Relevancy

Few things catch the customer’s attention more than relevance.

I take that back … nothing catches the customer’s attention more than relevance. There are two halves to being relevant: cutting through the noise in the marketplace to deliver what matters in a clear voice, and helping your customer discover information and choices they weren’t aware they wanted.

If your efforts are lost in the background noise, the relevance of your message doesn’t matter. Likewise, if your only goal is to ask the customer what they want, you’ve brought nothing but subservience. Successful relevance comes from helping the customer discover their own preferences and anticipating what they’ll need.

Consistency

A well-designed program has consistency and a good measure of predictability. That doesn’t mean that an occasional surprise and delight isn’t a great idea, but the day-to-day experience of the customer should create a trust in the brand’s ability to deliver and a sense that the brand has a well-thought-out strategy.

Web apps that constantly shift, choices that appear and then are gone, and other quick changes convey a lack of respect for the customer’s expectations. Dependable, well-crafted interfaces to your brand, whether Web, mobile or your people, are the delivery tools for consistency.

Customer Control

Customers become loyal when they have great experiences with a brand that bonds with them on an emotional level. A big part of that positive experience comes from the feeling that the brand understands their needs, and respects their right to choose things like the type, channel, and timing of communication, and even the reward they receive.

Allowing customers to express preferences and participate in the structure of the loyalty program is the easiest way to offer meaningful control; while 99% may choose a discount or a freebie as their reward, the simple fact of offering choices is as important as the choices themselves.

These three concepts — relevancy, consistency, and customer control — form the basis for great loyalty programs because together they create the twin bonds of trust and emotional attachment.

Published at DZone with permission of Christopher Taylor, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)