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8 posts from July 2015

Email can build loyalty if you're leveraging your CRM tools

If you have email-based conversations with your customers, you are already building loyalty with email (if you're being nice, I guess). 

The real question is can we build loyalty with mass emails? Personalization helps, but we have to do more than just toss in a name. We have to merge individual recognition, which is impossible if you haven't been using a CRM to track activities and add history to your contact records. 

A big, powerful company like Marriott can serve up reams of personalized data. A smaller company can at least log birthdays, major milestones, and preferences that will help make mass emails a loyalty-building experience. We suggest you start with your most loyal customers and invest in building their records so you can serve recognition.  IStock_000021085297XSmall

Epsilon: Enhancing Customer Experience Leveraging Email Channel, 2015-Feb-23 by Dino Michetti

Marketers have the tools and technologies to leverage data to truly get to know their customers. – And, no two customers are the same. Being a frequent traveler, I often stay at Marriott properties.... Marriott understands my needs, helps me to organize my stay while onsite and creates a positive experience for me all at the click of an open.... I receive an update of my Marriott Rewards loyalty account which informs me of my points, upcoming bonus opportunities based on my tier and how many nights I have stayed, how to earn a free night’s stay, etc.  So, as I switch gears and start to think about my next family vacation, this data is extremely helpful as I search the tropical properties that are on my list.  And what appears in my personal inbox the next day? – An email with a handful of tropical suggested properties. Now that’s email marketing at its finest.

Innovations in loyalty from Lyft and Uber

Fast-growing startups can spin out all types of innovations. Some work, some don't. For most of us, it's a matter of following along and copying what works.  IStock_000017373886XSmall

Fortune: Starbucks and Lyft partner to give rewards to drivers and riders, 2015-Jul-22 by Kia Kokalitcheva

Retaining drivers is a critical front in the riding hailing wars. Both Lyft and Uber have used aggressive tactics to poach each other’s drivers through big cash rewards. Simple things like letting passengers tip their drivers through the app with Starbucks “stars,” or points, can help drivers feel more appreciated by Lyft.

With that said, Uber has forged several of its own partnerships including one that lets Capital One credit card holders get $25 in free ice cream delivered to their doorstep this week. Another with Spotify lets passengers in certain cars play disc jokey on the car stereo from their smartphones.

As part of the partnership with Lyft, Starbucks said it will also “explore” ways to provide transportation for Starbucks employees to and from work in one test market, although it didn’t provide additional details. Lyft has already entered the work transportation market, however, with the launch last year of a program for employers to provide credits to their employees for work-related rides.

Words customers want to hear... from Groove

One of the best ways to build customer loyalty is to recover excellently from our mistakes. Groove provides customer service software, and they've compiled a wonderful list of words that customers want to hear. I think these are phrases customers always want to hear, but they are most important when things are not going as the customer hoped. 

Groove: Word Choice Matters, 2014-Oct-21 by Len Markidan

  1. I don't know, but I'll find out for you. 
  2. I'd be frustrated, too. 
  3. I'd be happy to help you with this. 
  4. I'll send you an update by [day or time].
  5. I really appreciate you letting us know. 
  6. Is there anything else I can help you with?

I recommend clicking through to read the whole article, as well as the comments, which expand these ideas and especially recommend saying these words with sincerity, or not at all. 

The customer experience of abandonment cuts both ways.

One of my most memorably bad experiences was in the service area of a car dealership. I was clearly not of the recognized regular customers. And I arrived in a bad mood, as a consequence of some problem with my car. The service manager punished me by overlooking me for all the other customers in the area. There was no queueing system that might have protected my turn.  IStock_000020658318XSmall

As I stood there and stewed, I had plenty of time to consider what I had done to contribute to the situation and how I wish things had been handled differently. If any of the personnel has made eye contact and said, 'you're having a rough morning,' I would have relaxed. If they knew I needed to wait they could have directed me to a place to sit and told me how long to expect to wait. None of that happened, and I never returned after that first experience. 

Customers do NOT want to school your employees. If we already have a great deal of loyalty, we may go to the trouble of asking or mentioning unfair treatment. Confrontations are draining, and if we don't have an investment to protect, why should we bother? It's your business, after all. 

LoyaltyOne: Dysfunctional customer experiences risk billions in retail losses, 2015-Jun-1 [emphasis added]

It may seem counterintuitive, but retailers should welcome the irate shopper who vents her frustration in an animated scene on the sales floor. That’s because it’s the mistreated customer who walks out the door in a silent huff who places the most revenue at risk, according to a collaborative study of dysfunctional retail touch points conducted by LoyaltyOne and Verde Group with Professor of Marketing and Psychology, Dr. Deborah Small, at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The March 2015 survey shows that approximately half of 2,500 U.S. consumers polled reported experiencing a problem on their last shopping trip. Of those customers, 81% decided not to contact the retailer about the issue. Among these silent shoppers, 32% said they were unlikely to recommend the retailer to friends and family, putting these shoppers at-risk of decreasing their spend with the retailer.

By comparison, the study shows that shoppers who did notify retailers of their poor experience and had their problem completely resolved were 84% less likely than silent shoppers to be at risk of decreasing their spend.

Our loyalty programs have to vary at least as much as our customers

Sorry to pick on Office Depot, but their loyalty program isn't reaching me. IStock_000019719755XSmallOffice Depot has been my favorite office supply store for ten years. I can't even really tell you why, except I like going there. The people have always been nice. Some years I've been ramping up a small business and have spent heavily. Other years I'm in a job and just get a few things for home use. Right now I'm starting a business but trying to run very lean. However, their loyalty program doesn't vary. Points and discounts: they are missing an opportunity to get me in with demonstrations or consultations. 

Deluxe just released a report they commissioned from Forrester where many loyalty managers discuss their goals and programs. I'm sad to say that most companies just try to retain the customers without using the loyalty program to build better customer experiences or PROFITS. Loyalty programs are one of the most sustainable ways we can improve profits. Don't miss out!

Do click through and download the report: you'll find good ideas of how we can expand our loyalty programs. 

Deluxe Blogs: Consumers Crave Variety in Their Loyalty Programs, 2015-Jun-5 by Adam Craig

We found that loyalty programs that incorporate a greater number of channels – nine to 13 – consistently report complete success in driving purchase frequency, spend, brand advocacy and engagement. Those with eight or fewer touchpoints report less satisfaction and success.

Good Data on Sales and Marketing Alignment from ChaiOne

Over at ChaiOne, they've designed a new "mobile sales enablement tool" called Game Plan that looks pretty cool. Fortunately for everyone, they've put out an infographic that sharing the research that led to the Game Plan project. 

The text is a little hard to read here, so head over ChaiOne to see their original. The most interesting perspective for me was how little patience sales people have for finding the right content that's already been prepared by marketing. I knew they hate data entry, but they also hate looking for content. So Game Plan might be right for your team.

ChaiOne, Sales Content Management Done Right, 2015-Jun-3 by Jacob VonCannon:




Can We Make Loyalty Bankable?

Evan Malter has been a small business owner serving small business owners. Now he is innovating ways to help them finance their growth. His new venture, ZipCap, IStock_000020168756XSmallprovides 12-month term loans to small businesses which can get 100 or more customers to pledge to spend a minimum amount during the year. The amount of the loan is based on the total amount pledged, and it's early days to know whether this concept will work. 

Based on my experience with small business owners, I do think this idea has good prospects. New owners often get freaked out about short-term profitability, which is understandable--sometimes their home is collateral for the startup capital! If ZipCap can get the owner thinking about customer retention at least as much as they do about monthly net margin, benefits will accrue all around. 

Entrepreneurs' Tank: ZipCap Turns Customer Loyalty into a Line of Credit, 2015-June-24

“There has been very little friction with making the commitment as far as following through – we have found significant enhanced loyalty. Customers are more engaged than they would be without the commitment. It is a binding contract that they have agreed to, but even more important – they feel obligated (a social pressure) to follow through. Its important to note these are local businesses in their communities that they love going to. It almost takes more effort to default on the commitment than it does to follow through. It is also self fulfilling — we are engaging these customers in new ways that strengthens their bond and makes them want to come back”.