Building customer loyalty

Simplicity drives loyalty for Google, Netflix, Amazon, Chipotle...

Recently recognized for their ability to delight customers with simplicity of use, Google, Netflix, IStock_000022889089XSmallAmazon and Chipotle made it to the top five of the "simple brands" identified by customer experience strategy consultant Siegel+Gage. 

 

Among the up-and-coming "simple brands," Dollar Shave Club says "Dollar Shave Club couldn't be simpler. Select one of our great blades, pay only for the cost of your blades, and we send ’em right to your door every month." At Seamless, they say "we make ordering food for delivery and takeout seamless!"

Harvard Business Review: Why Simple Brands Win, 2015-Nov-9 by Margaret Molloy

Customer experience is the new battleground for loyalty. Years of findings in the Global Brand Simplicity Index demonstrate that when brands build cultures of simplicity, all parties benefit. Employees have the clarity to innovate and deliver superior customer service, consumers have better brand experiences, and ultimately reward brands with their loyalty.

Growth is welcome and inevitable for any successful company—but complexity is an unavoidable side-effect of growth. Companies must be on the lookout to simplify processes and create fresh and clear brand experiences. A commitment to simplicity starts at the top. Senior management must be committed to implementing practices that encourage simplicity. Brand purpose—what a brand does and why it does it—should be articulated in a way that is easy for employees to internalize, and customers must view a brand and its services in a manner consistent with this purpose. While it is necessary to look inward to refine and simplify, ultimately the customer’s perspective matters most.


MW Cleaners shows how to reward customers for natural loyalty

Most companies want you to do something unnatural to be rewarded. Like "buy again with 15 days" or "spend $100 on your next visit." At MW Cleaners (owned by The Men's Wearhouse), IStock_000022989689XSmallPresident Mike Nesbit came up with a great reward, but then took it one step further. They identified the customers who'd ALREADY earned the reward and gave it to them. 

National Clothesline: Mike Nesbit: What's Important, 2014-Aug

One way the chain is trying to improve customer service is by offering its clientele something that it can’t get anywhere else. About two years ago [2012], it started a rewards program. In it, customers who have had the same shirt cleaned 20 times with them are given a $50 credit at Men’s Wearhouse so they can buy a new shirt.

“It’s been a really big deal,” Mike said, estimating that MW Cleaners has handed out thousands of credits so far. “When we first started, we actually went back retroactively. Think about it, you start a program and if you start it from the beginning, it’s going to take your customers 20 times, which could take them two years or more to get something cleaned that many times. I wanted to do something with instant gratification.”


How Kroger earns world-class loyalty and we can, too.

When Kroger launched their state-of-the-art loyalty program in 2003, I was immediately won over. It helped that there was a Kroger store four blocks from my home (yes, I have an inner city lifestyle). At every touch, my loyalty grew stronger. Tq140417qdThe program seem to mold itself around my needs. Now they have one of the highest ranking loyalty programs in the world. 

What if we don't have millions of dollars to spend on a world-class loyalty program? We follow these guidelines from Bond Brand Loyalty:

Elements that ranked as the top functional drivers of satisfaction include:

  1. The appeal of rewards. (Kroger offers rebate checks, grocery discounts, fuel discounts, and more.)
  2. The ease with which rewards can be redeemed. (We choose our mechanism: credit card, loyalty card, mobile app.)
  3. The amount accumulated per $1 spent. (Savings are substantial.)
  4. Ability to reach rewards in a timely manner. (We can get something every visit, and monthly rewards pile up.)
  5. Number of ways benefits can be earned. (Co-operating with Shell, Liberty Mutual, and more.)

Elements that ranked as the top experience drivers include:

  1. The program is worth the effort of participating.
  2. The program meets my needs.
  3. The program is enjoyable.
  4. The program is simple. (Kroger's program is not simple overall, but our access to rewards is simple.)
  5. The program is easy to understand.

Learn more with Bond's '15 Loyalty Report


Sharing customer happiness with a photo booth

The rising popularity of Photo Booths is driven by a few different benefits. I enjoyed using one during a party at Story a few years ago, but now many retailers are using them on a daily basis. Let's break down the benefits so you can see if they apply to your business: IStock_000017373886XSmall

1) Better experience for your customer: If you sell clothing, gifts or souvenirs, people may enjoy sharing their purchase or purchase idea with friends. Of course, they could use their own camera BUT a booth may provide better lighting. Seeing the booth may remind them to share. 

2) Better exposure for your business: Photo booths can be configured to print your company logo and additional information that becomes advertising. 

3) Better interaction with your customers: Once they've shared an image publicly, you can support them with additional exposure, even reward them. 

4) Collect customer data: We can give our customers the option of paying a few bucks for the photo OR we can ask for their email address, etc. If we want to booth to be always free, we can invite them to order more prints by sharing contact information.

Photo booths now come in many types, including a station with an iPad and no booth at all. 

NY Times: Smile! Photo Booths Prove You're a Happy Customer, 2015-Oct-6 by Courtney Rubin

The photo booth, that fixture of one-off events like weddings and parties, is now taking up permanent residence at fashion and lifestyle brands, as companies like [Warby Parker,] Urban Decay and Topshop realize that some of the best advertising they can get are well-lighted branded photos of customers having a good time....

“People take better pictures of themselves than photographers, because you don’t have that same level of insecurity,” Mr. van S said. “It’s a very cost-effective way to do marketing, especially when this stuff is going out to social.”

The financial arrangements are complicated: Some booths are rentals; others are bought. Features and pricing vary widely....

For the health food company Juice Generation, which last month installed a booth in its financial district store in Manhattan, the photos are the basis for what the founder, Eric Helms, called “a kind of modern loyalty program.” Instead of offering cards that are stamped with each purchase, three Juice Generation employees who monitor the company’s social media invite people who post a lot of photos to come in on their birthdays with friends for free drinks and other surprises. 


IBM shows us how to be loyal to our prospects

It's pretty easy to have loyal relationships with our customers, but loyalty leaders like Hershey and IBM are loyal to their prospects, to the entire category they hope to win. It helps to have deep pockets, IStock_000019813515XSmallbut we have to start with a desire to benefit a category of people, and to be a little selfless about making it happen. 

Harvard Business Review: 6 Ways to Tell Stories with Data Throughout the Customer Lifecycle, 2015-Oct-2 by Alexandra Samuel

A smart strategy is to create data-driven content that’s a must-read for your target—like the content IBM has built from its series of surveys with C-level executives, including The Customer-Activated Enterprise. By surveying thousands of CEOs, CMOs and other top executives—and then gating the results – IBM created a data asset that all but guaranteed it would get contact information from thousands of executives worldwide.


Lead your customers to greater satisfaction with their own data

Privacy experts have been shocked to discover how easily we consumers part with our data in exchange for a few benefits. IStock_000021992634XSmallMy personal example is the app Waze. In exchange for constantly sharing all the information about where, when and why I drive, it tells me how to get around more easily in heavy urban traffic. It is SO worth it! (As long as no one ever wants to stalk me or frame me.)

The real challenge is making sure our customers see how much they can benefit from the information we collect. The guys at OKCupid have had a few stumbles, but overall, they want people to understand their own biases.... and I think everyone benefits. 

Harvard Business Review: 6 Ways to Tell Stories with Data Throughout the Customer Lifecycle, 2015-Oct-2 by Alexandra Samuel

...by telling your customers how to get more from your products and services, data-driven content can help you keep your customers. That’s a big part of the value of OkCupid’s long-running data blog, which has explored a wide range of topics by tapping into users’ dating profiles. While the company has attracted a lot of media attention—and generated a book!—with topics like racial bias in dating and the role of appearance in dating preferences, its posts have also offered concrete insights that can help users themselves optimize their dating experience. From the optimum number of characters for an on-site message (see the chart they published below, “Men Contacting Women”), to the best questions to ask on a first date, OkCupid’s data-driven insights help its users find love. The data your company uses to optimize its business performance may well offer insights to your customers, too; if you can find a way of sharing those insights, you make your customers’ experience better—and your product or services stickier.


Plan to collect data about your customers regularly

If we want a stable base of business, we have to be steadily moving toward our customers, giving them more of what they want. Unfortunately, our customers are changing constantly, even moving away from us. By constantly collecting data we can follow them, or replace them, if necessary.

A satisfaction survey is seldom enough, unless we use it to open a dialogue with our customers. Our best bet is to have a customer tracking plan in place. Sort out our best customers, then collect information about them and from them. Compare it to trends in transactions. Are we moving with the market or bucking the trends?  IStock_000019653085XSmall

Loyalty360: Hershey Company: Listen to Customers and They Will Guide You Toward Brand Loyalty, 2015-Oct-1, interview of Brian Kavanagh by Jim Tierney

“At Hershey, we have invested significant time synthesizing many different data sources to give us a full picture of what is going on with our brands, category, and the full retail environment,” he explained. “Whether that’s weather data to help us understand how burn bans in the Midwest impacted summer s’mores sales or synthesizing data to find clusters of stores that sell our York brand incredibly well for a targeted product launch. Be clear upfront about the actionable insights you are looking for and create a plan to implement them. Our entire organization has adopted a data-centric mindset, and that’s what it takes to be serious as an organization about using actionable insights. Marketing, supply chain, research & development, innovation, and sales all need to be speaking the same language.”

Hershey’s consumer philosophy is consumer-first. “Our customer or retailer philosophy is always category-first,” Kavanagh said. “We will always do right by our consumer and category. A high tide lifts all sails–this philosophy has proven out for more than 120 years and it’s a value we’ll hold true to.”