In recent years, companies have become interested in making significant changes, upgrades and facelifts to the programs they offer to the public. In addition, companies providing customer loyalty and service platforms help them stay competitive, which is essential to emerge from a pandemic that has made customers increasingly demanding.
How demanding have consumers become? McKinsey reports in 2020 indicated the first signs of the brand’s agnosticism among buyers. Faced with problems like Supply Chain economic shortages and concerns, 75% of people have tried new products. In other words, they are putting their loyalty on the line.
Even at the end of 2021, clients remained surprisingly fickle with their wallets. They invest their money only in certain brands and use all kinds of platforms to express their dissatisfaction. They have high expectations of businesses and are not afraid to look for their money elsewhere. And they don’t do that want good service. They want to feel that they (and their time) matter to the brands they frequent.
Here are 7 ways businesses are improving loyalty and customer service:
With this in mind, many companies have revamped all of the customer touch points they offer to deliver a superior customer experience. Below are some of the most innovative and intelligent ways that brands across the country have made evolutionary advancements in customer retention, support, management and awareness.
1. Experiment with NFTs.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are gaining ground in the looming metaverse. Just like cryptocurrency, they can be treated like valuable assets. that’s why Clinique offers three NFTs of his signature “MetaOptimist” as part of an unprecedented giveaway.
The giveaway is the first of its kind in the beauty industry. Clinique Smart Rewards members are invited to share optimistic stories by November 2, 2021 via social media. The top three winners will receive their own first edition “MetaOptimist” NFT, along with unique products each year for a decade. Plus, they’ll get early access to the best-selling Black Honey Almost Lipstick when it hits shelves again.
To get the most out of their NFT campaign, Clinique worked with Cathy Hackl, a well-known metaverse expert and CEO of the Futures Intelligence Group. Additionally, noted Carolyn Dawkins, senior vice president of Clinique Global Online, the company had been thinking about entering the world of NFTs. While the goal was to honor its best clients, Clinique carefully designed the campaign to instill a sense of brand authenticity.
2. Streamline payment issues.
Customers do not like points of friction, especially during transactions. Take online shopping carts, for example. As a result, nearly seven out of 10 are abandoned. What about those difficult trading exchanges in person? They are equally frustrating for consumers.
Knowing this, FIS Impact Labs launched GoCart ™. The app eliminates the need for redirecting, logging in or moving between screens and forms when making payments. Instead, GoCart offers a pay-per-link system that allows purchases to go through quickly and securely. Plus, the GoCart option allows customers and merchants to eliminate the need to redeem credit cards.
Says Ashleigh DePopas, Head of GoCart: “With GoCart, we have redesigned payments to provide merchants of all categories with a single solution for current and future payment types. There is no redirect and no login is required. No long forms to fill out. No limitation whether you want to pay online, by email or by text.
DePopas and others behind the GoCart system predict that it will be useful beyond retail and restaurants. Other potential applications of GoCart include making it easy to pay a copayment in a doctor’s office or paying for gasoline at the pump. Ultimately, GoCart hopes to usher in the contactless payment wave of the future.
3. Connection at a values-driven level.
Ben & Jerry’s has been an iconic standard in the frozen dessert world for decades. While the company and its leaders have never backed down from their progressive political views, they have increased their angle of social justice. Today, Ben & Jerry’s isn’t just an ice cream brand. It is an ice cream made by and for the militants.
Consider their last flavor, “Change is brewing. “The blend of coffee, chocolate and marshmallow flavors can be a temptation to the palate. However, the company has also made sure it is a recall to support black-owned businesses and the needs of minority communities The container features inspired illustrations and serves as a call to action.
Not all companies want to take such a strong stance on complex social issues, even if many did so amid the unrest of 2020. However, Ben & Jerry’s has always positioned itself as a forward-looking company. By aligning its sweet, unpretentious product with a serious topic, Ben & Jerry’s encourages thoughtful debate.
4. Provide an “insiders-only” social channel for loyal customers.
People like Social media so much so that more than four billion consumers should regularly use social networks by 2025. As a result, brands have started to build customer loyalty tremendously on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Sephora is among them. However, the company now rewards its Beauty Insiders with something a little more unique. The makeup and skin care company is offer an online community where Sephora obsessives can connect.
While not an entirely new idea in terms of customer loyalty programs, having an inside scoop channel serves an important purpose. First, it plays on young people’s interest in social media and beauty. Second, it allows Sephora to conduct in-depth social listening. After all, the business can easily see what topics are trending. Finally, it gives Sephora a floor for discussion with newbies and longtime fans.
Can all businesses strengthen the relationship with buyers through Sephora’s online community? Maybe not at first. But those with strong followers may want to consider the value of having an internal social channel.
5. Play for rewards.
What could be more irresistible than a burrito, guac and fries? For Chipotle customers, it was an opportunity to enter their Race to Rewards Exchange online video game competition. Held in June 2021, the two-day online experience encouraged Chipotle devotees to get involved in an interactive racing game, collect points and maybe even win the grand prize of a Tesla Model 3. 2021.
Introducing a game concept into the idea of a rewards actualization allowed Chipotle to win over its target customers and do something different. Noted CMO Chris Brandt in a statement, “This is one of the many ways we charge our super fans and deliver exclusive experiences to our most loyal guests.”
The brand has kept the game on a separate site in order to continue to gain attention. But did his bet on the game work? Although marketing figures are not being made public, Chipotle shares have flight at the end of July 2021. So coincidence or not, maybe it proved that, at the very least, gamification was causing a stir.
6. Give loyal customers the key to the front door.
Most businesses say they love their customers. Yet, as a Forbes article notes, very few go the extra mile and offer customers a path to partial ownership. The article notes that organizations like eBay and Lowe’s offer fraction of action actions as thank you options for customer retention.
Seen from the outside, the suggestion to give customers stock may seem crazy. Still, it helped boost Lowe’s numbers dramatically. A retrospective of one trial found that people bought more in the home improvement store when they won stocks. In addition, they visited the nearest Lowe’s store each month.
Again, Lowe’s example may not be perfect for all businesses. Nonetheless, it was a bold approach that paid off in sales and public relations. Additionally, it positioned Lowe’s as a competitor who was not afraid to explore uncharted territory to fuel better customer relationships.
7. Harness the power of AR.
Augmented Reality (AR) has gone from being sci-fi stuff to everyday stuff. And few innovative companies are investing in AR technology to help them bring their products to consumers in exciting ways.
Case in point: IKEA and AR have turned out to be a perfect marriage in the retail paradise. The IKEA Place app allows customers to see what IKEA products will look like in their home. Of course, IKEA was in a good position to try AR. Like explained in Wired, IKEA already had plenty of 3D models in its catalog. As a result, the company didn’t have to reinvent the wheel too much to move their AR forward.
IKEA is not alone in adopting AR and VR technology, however. Retailers are now experimenting with uses of AR, including helping people “try on” clothes from remote locations. Over time, the interface between augmented reality and real images has become smarter and sharper. Over time, AR may be less of a differentiator for brands. For now, however, it’s a competitive advantage for companies like IKEA doing it right.
Businesses will always need to retain customers to keep the doors open. Fortunately, they have tons of choices for upgrading their platforms and processes with cutting edge technology. Leaders just need to be prepared to try something a little cheeky.