Skip to Content

How To Figure Out What Customers Want To Earn Their Loyalty

How To Figure Out What Customers Want To Earn Their Loyalty

Here is how to start thinking about loyalty in terms of the full value of the relationship and not just money spent.

The Canadian retail sector is filled with coupons that customers neglected to use on their next purchase.

Among airlines, hospitality firms and restaurants, customers may redeem points they’ve earned but still take their business elsewhere.

You can offer a disgruntled customer a discount on their next item, meanwhile, but it doesn’t mean the relationship will necessarily last much beyond that purchase.

Loyalty — true customer loyalty, any way — involves more than dangling some kind of reward.

These customer loyalty programs have their place and their value, but they ultimately treat loyalty as a purely transactional kind of engagement with customers. As long as they keep buying, the company continues to send a trickle of points or other rewards their way.

The time to reimagine customer loyalty management had probably arrived many years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic may have represented the moment where it became impossible to ignore.

Those first few weeks of March 2020 were frightening. People were suddenly unsure of how they would continue to work, educate their children or even buy household staples.

Brands that stepped up to the challenge did more than provide products and services. They gave customers a sense of reassurance, of being cared about. Whether it was switching production lines to begin manufacturing PPE or introducing contactless pickup, there was a clear message that serving customers mattered beyond the bottom line.

It shouldn’t take a public health crisis to show us what it really takes to earn customer’s loyalty, but hopefully the lessons from COVID-19 have been well-learned.

As we get closer to the end of the year and the start of 2022, this is a perfect opportunity to consider a strategic shift to enhance customer loyalty. That process should probably start with a new definition.

Instead of thinking about a loyal customer as one who continues to spend with your company, for example, think about loyalty in terms of the full value of the relationship. This includes:

  • How often they will engage with your brand when you have something to say

  • Whether they will recommend your brand to their friends, family and coworkers

  • Whether they will not only spend money but offer ongoing feedback and insight

  • The degree to which they want to remain loyal to your brand versus competitors

This list could go on — and may look different depending upon the sector in which you operate — but the key pillars to fostering such loyalty are consistent. Here’s what you should be prioritizing as part of your planning:

1. Turn Relevance Into The Ultimate Reward

A 10% off sale for existing customers sounds great — except for those customers who have just made a purchase. Instead of becoming more loyal, they might be upset they didn’t know the promotion would be headed their way.

This is a common problem with a lot of traditional retail loyalty programs: they treat all customers exactly the same instead of recognizing them as the unique individuals. In fact, recent research from Salesforce Canada shows that 46% of Canadians expect online brands to know their customer profile.

Customers are well aware that brands collect lots of data about them, including their contact details and purchase histories. There is no reason to take a one-size-fits-all approach to fostering loyalty.

Instead, begin looking at that data to determine how you can personalize and customize the tactics you use, treating each customer as an audience of one.

Doing so means you don’t just have to look at discounts but can offer other kinds of value. It could be as simple as reaching out to customers just before they usually make another purchase to see if you can prepare and ship one out to them a little early. You could also send an alert when new products arrive in their favourite colour, size or style.

Relevance is the ultimate reward because it reinforces the fact that you see your engagement with each customer as a real relationship that puts their interests at the forefront.

2. Reward Loyalty Across The Whole Experience, Not Just The Purchase

Relevance is a quality that should infuse every key moment in the customer journey.

Generally speaking, customers tend to become loyal to companies that not only make it easy to buy, but easy to pick up, easy to get support and easy to find their next product.

As you know each customer’s preferred digital channels, for example, you can recognize their loyalty by making sure your next marketing campaign reaches them via e-mail instead of sending a physical flyer or brochure.

When they need help troubleshooting after a purchase, you can be ready to assist them via Facebook or Instagram rather than making them pick up the phone.

The more you look holistically at the quality of the customer experience you’re delivering, the better you’re able to remove friction and treat loyal customers like VIPs (which, of course, they are!). If you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth it, consider that one-third (33%) of Canadians say they are willing to compromise on product quality for a positive customer experience.

This becomes far easier to do when you have a platform like Salesforce’s Customer 360 that offers a single version of the truth, and can unite teams including sales, marketing, service and IT.

3. Be Visible In Living Out The Values That Align With Those Of Your Most Loyal Customers

It’s probably obvious that your company wants to not only be profitable but to continue growing. It should be just as obvious that you also care about things that don’t always show up on a company’s financial statement.

Besides the pandemic, one of the hallmarks of the times we’re living through has been an increased focus on social issues. This includes the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), the urgency to combat climate change and championing mental health and wellness.

Customers no longer see brands as isolated from these issues. In fact, 34% of Canadians surveyed cited brand loyalty being driven by shared values with the brands they shop from.

Think about how you can invest your resources — whether it’s volunteer hours, donating to an important cause or simply raising awareness — to be more transparent about your values. It’s a way of growing loyalty that doesn’t necessarily involve a loyalty program.

Some portions of your customer base may continue to come and go, but developing a strategy based on relevance, customer-centricity and values is a sure way to turn loyalty into a competitive edge.

Get timely updates and fresh ideas delivered to your inbox.