How many “loyalty rewards points” have you collected? I bet you belong to at least one loyalty program. Let's see how to make it work for your business!
Jan 2, 2021 · 5 min read
Loyalty programs are something that can divide people’s opinions. Speak to one business owner and they may tell you that they have never had one, never needed one and have never seen the point of them.
Business owners who use something old and outdated like stamps on a card for each visit may tell you that while loyalty rewards programs have their place.
They end up impacting their bottom line, because they give existing customers money off, once their loyalty card is full.
But these days, there is another option. The modern-day, digital loyalty program. And, for the forward-thinking businesses that use them, they can prove to be invaluable.
Not only do they bring their top customers through the door more frequently, but they also bring new people into their store or business and actually generate additional revenue for them.
Do customer loyalty programs really work? Speak to the business owners who have these type of loyalty programs, and you’ll hear them rave about how they are worth every cent - and are often far less expensive than you may expect.
The thing is, with the advent of digital technology, everything has changed for brick and mortar businesses, particularly in recent times.
Even people who never previously shopped online, who appreciated the personal service of shopping locally and supporting independent businesses are, today, buying more of those goods and services over the internet.
This is sometimes out of necessity and sometimes because it’s more convenient. Those small, local businesses are having to focus on building their own online presence quickly, in order to compete with the big guys.
The challenge is that when people buy goods and services online, an element of that personal service that a business may pride itself on can be lost.
Why is customer loyalty important?
A loyalty program that can operate both online and in-person can help to put that personal touch back into businesses of all sizes.
Younger people, in particular, have come to expect their loyalty to your business to be rewarded in some way. From their cell phone network, to their grocery shopping, they are given treats, rewards and thank-yous for shopping. So, for smaller businesses, being able to offer the same kind of loyalty rewards is fundamental, to remain competitive.
Most small business owners understand that keeping existing customers coming back is the least expensive pathway to profit, when compared to finding and retaining new, ‘cold’ customers.
A great loyalty program can help generate more business, by giving your existing customers great value offers, deals and incentives.
And good news travels - offer great service and you are automatically prompting existing customers to provide word-of-mouth referrals to their own friends and family - people like them, who are open to getting to know your business.
Well firstly, you need to think about what you want your loyalty system to do and how and what you want to reward. Here are some questions you may want to consider:
What are effective ways to build customer loyalty for my business?
How do loyalty programs benefit customers?
How can loyalty programs affect a business' sales?
Can loyalty software reward people on and offline?
What are the best loyalty programs for my business?
Is it compatible with my current payment systems and sales software?
Can I communicate with clients in different ways (social media messaging/SMS/email)?
How easy is it to set up and configure?
Can I use it to remind lapsed customers to come back with a special offer or incentive?
Does it have extra features, like automating special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries, so I can send coupons, without having to manually do that?
Ideally, you want a customer loyalty software system that can do all this, and more.
If you decide it’s time for a new customer loyalty program, be sure to do your homework.
Look for a loyalty program that is tailored towards small businesses, rather than large corporations, or you will inevitably find yourself paying for features that you don’t really need.
Many great loyalty rewards programs offer free trials, have free plans, enabling you to try the system for yourself before committing to a final decision.
Be wary of ones that tie you into long contracts and add-ons that you don’t need and won’t use, or leave you stuck with something you can’t get the maximum benefit from.
How easy is it to get started? Does it take your data and do the hard work for you, or are you going to have to dedicate days of your time to get it up and running? Look for something flexible, where you can pay for what you use, that has the features that can grow with you and your business.
Also, think about how you will measure the success of your customer loyalty program. Does the system have instant reporting on multiple touchpoints, so you can quickly and easily understand whether or not it is adding value?
What is your anticipated return on your investment? How will your loyalty program benefit customers? And, more importantly, how will it benefit your business?
And finally, think about how you will actually use it. Will staff need training on it? Is it all digital and automated, or do people have to do anything when they visit your business, such as carry a card or activate a loyalty point or stamp or fill out forms to join the scheme? All these things matter to how well your new customer loyalty program will be taken up by your customers and by your employees too.
Follow the steps above and you will be able to see the difference that having loyal, repeat customers can bring to your business. And remember, rewards don’t have to be monetary - they can be a free gift with purchase, service upgrade or something else - which can turn into higher value future purchases or the faster take-up of new product or services in your business.
But the old adage will always be true - look after your customers - or someone else will.
Co-Founder/Customer Happiness Manager at RetentionForce
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