Redefining Loyalty - Insight into working life at Stream
Stream’s unique software solutions, combined with a clear understanding of the significance of data, enables us to work with clients to help build brand loyalty, increase sales, drive customer satisfaction and drive employee engagement. Stream helps build trust that delivers brand loyalty and commercial rewards and, through this, can prove that the cost of inertia far outweighs the price of change.
Stream have just won a contract to develop an online coaching and professional development tool for a major healthcare company. Watch this space for more information.

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Customer Loyalty - forget everything you thought you know
24 July 2017

Customer Loyalty - forget everything you thought you know

Customer loyalty is all about programmes, schemes, cards and platforms, right?  Wrong!

Customer loyalty is a value strategy that is embedded within your company’s culture. It’s an all-encompassing mindset that needs to be embraced by every person within your organisation.

We are regularly asked to present on loyalty, providing insight and provoking debate on what loyalty could mean for a brand’s audience. We often get asked “what should we reward our customers with?” - an impossible question to answer at the outset and probably not the right place to start. Firstly, ask yourself what problem you are trying to solve and what behaviours do you want to change?  Once you’ve defined this, you can then identify and design a solution around that.

We prefer to think of loyalty as a value strategy where you are providing the customer with something of value over and above the specific product or service and in return they are providing added value back to you. The value to your company could be anything from staggering renewal dates, sharing content about your brand, creating user generated content, providing referrals, product or service feedback and/or increasing spend.

Ask yourself, why do you want to implement a loyalty programme? Is it because everyone else is, because you feel your customers need it, or want it. Loyalty has to be a win-win for both you and the customer. This can’t be entered into lightly. Remember it is very hard to take something away once the customer expects it so make sure you get it right from the outset.

To get the right value proposition, there are a few steps to creating the value strategy and from this to drive customer loyalty:

Step 1: Understand and define what problems you need to solve. Remember don’t try and solve everything at once. List them out and order them by importance.
Step 2: Once you’ve defined the problem you can identify what behaviours you are expecting the customer to change. Is that change in behaviour going to solve the identified problem. Make sure it isn’t going to create new problems.
Step 3: Now define what you could give the customer for changing that behaviour? Listen to your customers. This is fundamental to getting that value strategy right. That could be through social listening, using sentiment analysis to identify issues, moods and keywords surrounding your brand, speaking to those employees who deal with customers on a daily basis and analysing the data you have. The value proposition is likely to be different for different personas within your audience. So many companies personalise the purchase experience and make it available across all touchpoints but don’t offer the same across the reward experience.
Step 4: Identify how you are going to communicate this strategy out to your customers. You could be very overt about it being part of a loyalty scheme or you could be covert and sell the benefits to the customer of changing their behaviour.
Step 5: Re-assess the performance against the initial problem regularly.  If the solution has solved that problem, then look at the next one and think about how you change the behaviours for that.

We often limit loyalty by the final touchpoint – the programme, the card, the scheme or the platform – but as suggested up front, loyalty goes much wider than this.  For example, Apple don’t have a traditional loyalty programme but they absolutely have a loyalty strategy. They put their effort into great design and great customer experiences. They are constantly innovating and improving their products. Their ‘Apple Geniuses’ are available to customers in store and over the phone and can help with any problem. This is what gets people queueing around the block to get the latest product and why they are willing to spend over £500 on a new phone.

Value to the customer can come in many different forms, for example:

• Instant rewards provided through strategic brand partnerships
• Points
• Experiences
• Free product or delivery (think Amazon)
• Education
• Access to skilled partners

So, whatever the end reward/value is you need to start by understanding the problems you are trying to solve and the behaviours you are trying to change.

You can also use this same process to look at any internal issues. You can only truly generate deep and long lasting customer loyalty if your employees feel part of the vision, empowered and passionate about the brand.

If you would like us to run a workshop for you to generate ideas and provoke discussion please get in touch with Hamish Crichton or Melanie Parker.