on October 01, 2020 Loyalty

The Loyalty Program Features Customers (and Companies) Want

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Despite the (at-times) fickleness of human nature, knowing what your customers want and what matters to their decision-making can pay off enormously. Technology and sales tools have improved for this very purpose. But trying to keep up with what customers want can be overwhelming, especially when trying to understand what loyalty program features customers want the most.

Loyalty platforms and programs are unique because they cater to both customers and companies. Both parties require specific features and want certain benefits from loyalty programs.  While customers and companies have different views and goals when it comes to loyalty, oftentimes the two sides overlap. 

Customers Want: Seamless, Omni-Channel Experience

Between social media, email, mobile phones, tablets, apps, etc. there are a lot of methods to connect with customers. Considering the average consumer spent 6 hours and 39 minutes a day online in 2020, platforms and programs can no longer limit themselves to a single access point. Customers today expect loyalty programs to be easily accessible across all their devices.

And we do mean all of them. 

A major contributor to program success is being able to reach your customers where they are, so your rewards program must possess omni-channel functionality. 

Companies Want:  To Integrate With Their Existing Systems

Similar to how customers use a high number of media and devices, companies utilize a multitude of technologies and tools to conduct daily tasks, sell new business, build new products, market to audiences, and protect information. A study by Spiceworks revealed that 44% of businesses intended to grow their total IT budgets in 2020. Trying to implement a new loyalty program into an ever-evolving, expanding web of technology can easily cause tangles if done incorrectly.

It’s important that loyalty platforms possess the ability and flexibility to easily integrate into existing systems and processes. If not there's a risk businesses will fail to capture valuable data, experience communication breakdowns, or miss out on vital opportunities with their customers. 

Customers Want: More Personalized Offers

Points-per-dollar and discounts are foundational aspects of every loyalty program. But building real brand loyalty in the modern consumer requires that brands (and loyalty programs) go beyond the basics. If loyalty programs only offer generic treatment to customers, customers tend to react with apathetic consideration -- not loyalty. However adding personalization into key customer interactions improves a loyalty program’s appeal in the customer’s eyes. 

Unique member experiences, along with customized rewards or redemption offers, are the easiest ways to demonstrate customer appreciation on an individual level. B2B customers especially consider loyalty programs more valuable when they receive specific, tailored rewards. They are also more likely to actively participate. Over time, higher engagement and personalized experiences helps to build affinity between customer and brand. Eventually customers begin associating themselves with a specific brand and products, which is a hallmark of true loyalty.

It hard to reach that level using only generic rewards.

Companies Want: Actionable Analytics and Insights 

In order to provide customized offers and rewards, companies need robust analytics and tools. Loyalty programs can capture valuable data from sources such as purchase & receipt uploads, member profiles, and reward redemptions. In order to make strategic decisions, companies need to efficiently aggregate and analyze program activity. 

A platform with built-in analytics specific intended for analyzing loyalty data empowers brands to succeed from launch. Understanding how customers use the program helps provide insights into what best incentivizes further customer action. Another vital feature is the ability to integrate loyalty program data into existing data analytics from other parts of a business. This gives a holistic view of how all brand activity is contributing to customer loyalty. 

Customers Want: Data Protection

Customer concerns over data and privacy are greater today than they were 5 years ago. And it’s not hard to understand why: 447 million sensitive records were exposed from security breaches just in 2018. The numbers improved to just over 164 million records in 2019 but that's not very comforting for the consumer who had their information exposed in a breach. The dramatic rise in hacks, lost data, and breaches makes security a major consideration in the average consumer, not matter the industry or products. In addition, an increasing number of customers are now factoring data protection into how they select what brands to shop from, what activities to voluntarily participate in, and what platforms they’ll use. 

To stay relevant, loyalty programs need to acknowledge and match the expectations of their users. Brands have to make security a priority when producing their own platform, or selecting a loyalty platform provider. A cyber attack or data breach can result in the loss of consumer trust and business, and recovering is often costly. 

Companies Want: Security Controls and Compliance 

When faced with the loss and churn of valuable customers, companies are investing to make their technology secure. Loyalty platforms that store personally identifiable information and customer data should ensure the data is encrypted.  Brands should also take steps to ensure any data acquired through loyalty programs is only used for specific, documented purposes. Utilizing a loyalty platform with the proper technical safeguards and ensuring all privacy compliance needs are being met is vital to long-term loyalty success. Brands will also benefit by building credibility among current and potential loyalty program members.

Understanding how customer wants coincide with brand goals can help build an efficient and long-lasting successful loyalty program. This is why at Brandmovers we incorporate strategic discovery and learning sessions to identify alignment opportunities before platform build even begins.

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This article was originally published in 2019. It was updated and edited for accuracy in October 2020.