on March 25, 2020 Loyalty COVID-19

How Brands Can Use Loyalty Programs To Support Customers During COVID-19

Subscribe to Email Updates

As COVID-19 forces businesses to hurriedly change their processes and adapt to changing regulations, most companies will tend to completely halt or minimize their loyalty program initiatives. Yet now more than ever modern loyalty programs have the functionality and flexibility to adapt for changing needs. 

The main goal of a loyalty program is to be beneficial to customers and grow customer/brand relationships. During times of crisis, loyalty programs allow for brands to double-down on these goals by putting their focus on customer service, and engagement. Even when doors are closed and social interactions reduced, companies can continue supporting customers through expanding offerings and in some cases adapting certain loyalty program strategies.

Reevaluate Program Rewards And Product Offers

One of the biggest challenges has been the demand for certain products. Since implementing social distancing has cut down on the ability to shop at physical locations, customers are turning to digital channels for everything from groceries to entertainment. Your customer loyalty program should also be set to accommodate these changing needs. 

    • Showcase Digital Rewards - Stay-at-home orders might hinder your ability to offer certain physical rewards or redemptions for customers. Brands should highlight digital rewards offerings such as gift cards or credits. 
    • Emphasize Customer Service - Shift resources to accommodate for increases in customer service inquiries or reward fulfillment. 
    • Regularly Monitor Rewards And Product Availability - Customers are already experiencing high levels of stress and frustration. Monitoring product stock and being open in communicating about availability can help you manage customer expectations and reduce negative backlash. If any products or rewards become unavailable due to demand or sourcing issues, these options should be removed immediately from catalogs. 

Identify Opportunities For Partnerships

The consistent messaging throughout the past weeks has developed into a “we’re all in this together” mindset. Support for communities and individuals is key during time of crisis, including brands. Loyalty programs offer great opportunities to extend measures of support not only to customers, but also to your vendors and your partners. 

    • Explore New Opportunities - One strategy is identifying areas where partnerships with other businesses or vendors can be mutually beneficial for your customers as well as your brand. The coronavirus is impacting every individual across the globe, companies included. Finding areas where combining resources and expertise provide advantages can help keep businesses going.

      For example, when it became more apparent last week that social distancing would keep individuals at home, Chipotle and Postmates partnered to offer free delivery for any Chipotle orders for the entire month of March. This made it easier for customers of both brands to access products and services while staying safely at home.
    • Support Existing Partnerships - If your brand sells products through vendors or channel partners, you can also support those relationships through your loyalty program. One method is to implement bonus promotions for loyalty members who shop at a specific vendor partner, such as double points per purchase. Brands can also offer rewards for loyalty members who adhere to social distancing guidelines, such as using curbside pick-up or choose at-home deliveries. 

Assist Customer Efforts

A central topic of COVID-19 is how social distancing and lockdowns are majorly disrupting lifestyles. From growing unemployment to struggling local businesses, the virus's impact has influenced the creation or expansion of many support or relief initiatives. Loyalty programs provide a community platform to either showcase relief outreach efforts or directly assist in community events. 

  • Explore Charitable Giving - As individuals focus on what they can do to help, loyalty programs can offer methods of providing assistance. One way is giving program members the opportunity to donate the value of their rewards points to specific charities or relief organizations.  
  • Continue Thanking Customers - As people are forced to adjust their day-to-day lives, brands should increase their gestures of thanks for customers who continue to take loyal actions and behaviors. Giving extra points and rewards for customers who take the time to write product reviews, share or post brand content on social media channels, and complete surveys or quizzes are perfect ways to show your appreciation for their continued loyalty. 

Final Thoughts

There are several ways loyalty programs can serve both brands and customers during a crisis. When certain business processes have to be suspended or changed, loyalty programs can continue to provide a stable platform for serving and rewarding customers.  Even if the COVID-19 response requires changes to loyalty programs, ensuring the customer's well-being remains the primary focus will help brands succeed as they adjust their loyalty strategy for the upcoming weeks and months. 

If you're looking for more information on loyalty programs can help support your brand during times of crisis, reach out to us today.