With the virus still looming and causing second and third waves of infection, the importance of adapting to a world of contactless experiences is growing. Moreover, at this point in the pandemic, consumer behavior and overall lifestyle has been changed and impacted long term, meaning that adapting to the pandemic world is not a temporary plan but rather the scope for the future of brands communicating and providing experiences for their customers. This article introduces four ways to achieve contactless loyalty and stresses the importance of constantly adapting to changes in consumer behavior.
1. Value Exchange
Evaluating value exchange has always been of high importance when it comes to retaining loyal customers and appealing to those who are like-minded. Though traditional analyzation of value exchange in loyalty programs typically centers around the economic value, the exchange of value now needs to be focussed on safe and emotional experiences that resonate with consumers in real time.
With loyalty, brands should focus on three value exchanges:
-Share of Wallet: customers choosing to spend their money with a brand
-Share of Lifestyle: customers investing their time in a brand
-Share of Emotion: customers investing their feelings in a brand
Offering rewards for online purchases, reordering, or using partnered brands can influence a higher share of wallet as consumers will see more value in investing their money with those incentives in place. Rewarding for personalized goals, sharing experiences online, or just for taking a survey increases the share of life between a brand and its consumer as it makes the experience more tailored and rewards them in a digital format from the comfort of their home. Surprise and delight rewards, setting tiers or status, and exclusive access to offers and rewards build a share of emotion as the consumer will feel valued and appreciated from a brand.
Targeting these three values will help to increase and maintain loyalty in a contactless world. Paying attention to how consumer behavior is changing on an ongoing basis will help to prepare for how to best communicate new values to the customer.
The virus was sudden and changed the outlook on consumer behavior going forward. While no one could have predicted COVID-19, those brands that utilized forecasting tools to analyze how consumers were adapting and changing to the pandemic world are now in the best position to resonate with those consumers and be ahead of their competitors. The ability for a brand to pivot when necessary is crucial but real analyzation and forecasting efforts need to be continuously done in order to be prepared to pivot.
While hopefully brands will not have to pivot as hard in the future as they did this year with the virus, forecasting should still be implemented and done on a regular basis so that a brand is able to understand the consumer through every phase and touch-point in their personal life and their interactions with the brand. Brands need to continuously monitor their loyalty programs in order to inform their organization on adjusting to consumer engagement and prevent future potential surprises such as the virus.
For example, brands who forecasted the consumer landscape during the beginning of the virus may have recognized the increased usage of contactless payment options. After implementing relevant contactless payment technology, those brands should then see an increase in consumer trust and convenience.
3. Loyalty Data
The data that loyalty provides is not breaking news but it is a brand’s most important tool. Since loyalty programs are opt-in, brands have valuable data that can be used for higher personalization efforts and building a loyalty program that is constantly evolving and adapting to respond to real time changes. This data helps brands answer the question on how to best reach their consumers in contactless ways. Analyzing consumers’ purchase behavior within a loyalty program can show, for example, that the majority of customers are purchasing online. A brand can then take that data and offer rewards and more convenient processes when a customer purchases online.
Data enables personalization. There is no question about that, the data that a brand’s consumer gives when they join a loyalty program is prime to recycle for targeting efforts and making the platform better suited for each unique user. In this time when brands are facing a contactless relationship with their customers, it is imperative to gather data such as zero-party data which stems from consumer responses to surveys, directly showing what demands and concerns customers are stressing.
4. Emotional Connection
A Deloitte Digital study shows that emotions are the basis for 80% of the decisions a person makes in a single day.
As the pandemic continues, more and more brands will start to either improve or implement contactless relationships with their consumers. To stand out from competitors brands will need to create experiences that still maintain a sense of human interaction with the customer. This can be a unique video or audio message to a loyal customer, for example, which would make the customer feel appreciated and give them a sense of normalcy in a world that has been turned upside down.
Brands must build loyalty into the culture of their business as a stated promise or goal so that consumers realize its importance to the company as a whole. Above all else, achieving emotional connections and growing loyalty stems from showing empathy, building trust, and constantly being with the customer through every change in behavior and sentiment.