Shaping Your Program for the (Post-) Pandemic – The Do’s and Don’ts of Loyalty

Industry

The previous year saw a massive change in the way the world functioned, new compliances were implemented globally to adhere to the safety protocols, this caused a drastic impact on many industries, and we are still seeing the aftermath in 2021. Therefore, it is important that brands are ready to adjust their loyalty program to the current situation if they haven’t already. With that being said, we wanted to suggest some clear, “Do’s and Don’ts”, for your loyalty journey through the pandemic and after.

DO’s

Do Capitalize On the Market Trends

Use market trends to your advantage. Always consider, how can these trends support or add to my loyalty program?

An example could be to develop an NFT for exclusive experiences or even products such as luxury watches that can be acquired through your loyalty program.

Merging the beauty of luxury watchmaking with the intricacies of the blockchain. Aim to understand what customers desire and what trends they love, to better understand how your brand can elevate the customer experience.

Consider that in crisis mode, customers are more willing to change to other brands despite long-term established loyalty (Pitney Bowes).

This makes loyalty all the more important to better understand and also establishes the importance of correct loyalty practices.

Do Plan Experiential Virtual Events and Link Them to Your Loyalty Program

Stay engaged with your customers, provide them with memorable experiences: webinars, fire-side chats, live streams. These events could be directly integrated into your loyalty program through a few simple adjustments:

  1. Tickets should cost loyalty points, which customers can only obtain by purchasing from your brand. → Exclusivity + Additional engagement → Or in reverse the customer can earn points by attending the virtual event.

Also, use these events as opportunities for new customer acquisition or simply to boost brand visibility + awareness. Social media engagement through brand posts is a great way to capture the attention of your customers and incentivize them to interact with your loyalty program.

69% of customers expect connected experiences (Kognitiv)

Do Show Generosity

Understand that the current times will cause changes in the loyalty and purchasing behavior of your customers. Therefore, it is important to understand these changes. One way to increase the frequency of these behaviors and thus getting a better understanding is by giving customers more.

  1. Give customers more points when they make a purchase (incentivizes purchasing behaviors)
  2. Provide better discounts (increase redemption rate → increased purchasing behavior)
  3. Cheaper redemption options (increase redemption rate)

Consider incentivizing customers to display more loyalty behavior by enabling them to receive points based on social media interactions with your brand. For instance, the customer comments or creates their own post related to your brand and is subsequently rewarded 5 points per interaction.

This not only creates a larger incentive to join the loyalty program but also allows users to do the marketing for you, at a much lower cost.

Also leads to more earn options and subsequently higher customer satisfaction with the increased distribution of loyalty points. (Smile)

DON’Ts

Don’t Stop Updating Rewards and Implementing New Earn Options.

How can the current consumer needs be implemented in the loyalty program → different rewards, new earn options? With many customers entering a crisis mode mindset, the loyalty patterns previously observed, are not applicable anymore. In fact, consumers want new rewards more fitting to the current situation.

More flexibility due to the impact that COVID has had financially. So why not add very straightforward and supportive financial benefits that can be obtained by joining the loyalty program?

Example of Alternative Rewards/Benefits:

  1. Special financing
  2. Flexible payment terms
  3. Lower interests

 “88% of consumers interested in these benefits.” (Kognitiv)

Don’t Refuse Change, Stay Flexible

Some clients may be physically hindered due to restrictions, so don’t solely rely on one in-store site as a touchpoint for your loyalty program, make sure all consumers have an opportunity to access your loyalty program even if it’s through a mobile phone or laptop.

McKinsey found that “78% of U.S. consumers have switched stores, brands, or the way they shop due to the pandemic”

The digital future is coming. With e-commerce numbers going through the roof, McKinsey states that “e-commerce has experienced the same amount of growth in three months that would have previously taken 10 years”.

It is clear that brands need to adapt to the digital landscape quickly.

Consumer behavior has also similarly changed. Some of the notable changes are listed below:

  1. Lack of availability led to more convenience-based decision-making when deciding which brand customers choose. (CMS Wire)
  2. Increased desire for high-quality loyalty programs → better earn options + cheaper redemption options. (CMS Wire)

Don’t Be Ambiguous, Provide Clarity

Use social media to your advantage, update your customers as you travel along your journey, and remember transparency is key, so make sure to utilize it correctly.

Customers should be informed about any changes to your loyalty program and if changes must take place, provide an honest explanation:

  1. Find an alternative solution or communicate the changes clearly to your customers.
  2. Avoid any unnecessary negative backlash and connect with your customers on a different level, establishing a deeper level of trust.

It’s pivotal to develop a strong sense of trust with your customer as was observed in Edelman’s paper:

60% of customers are turning to brands that they are absolutely sure they can trust. (Edelman)

Key Takeaways (TL:DR)

Point 1: Understand the way the market is moving, capitalize on trends and create memorable experiences for your loyal customers. Show generosity by increasing earned points and reducing the cost of redemption options, in order to incentivize more loyalty behaviors and increase customer satisfaction (Smile).

Point 2: Update your customers on how COVID has impacted your brand. Clarify any changes or developments taking place. Always listen to your customers. Shape rewards/earn options around customer needs → 78% of U.S. consumers have switched stores, brands, or the way they shop due to the pandemic. (McKinsey)

The pandemic has been going on since the last year and with the current state of things, it’s normal to think that it will never be over but with the first wave of vaccines completed around various places globally. We could be living in a post-pandemic landscape very soon. With that being said, it’s important for brands to evolve and move at the same rate as the pandemic. Your loyalty program should be restructured for the new (post-) pandemic needs and thus your brand should take the necessary steps to achieve this transformation with some of the tips mentioned above.

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