The Many Flavors of Customer Loyalty



Customer loyalty comes in many shapes, flavors, and forms— consumers who wouldn’t think of buying a car from any other dealer, shoppers who are on a first name basis with the store clerks, coffee shop regulars who don’t even need to place an order to get their perfect half-caff, skinny latte.

Loyal customers are built one positive experience at a time.  Their value?  A steady revenue stream, higher profit margins and brand advocates who multiply your sales.  Loyalty is not a cookie-cutter program – that’s its strength and its promise for businesses looking to grow and solidify a customer base.

Designing a loyalty program to fit with your company culture, goals, and budget is a creative and strategic process that done right will differentiate your business in the market.  Loyalty can connect all parts of your customer communications because it is a real and always welcomed reason to be interacting with your customers.

Many companies are slow to start into loyalty because they expect a huge project requiring months of planning, teams of implementors, and too much complexity to be handled effectively by the front line.  Businesses with many retail sites will want to spend time to test pilot a program in various locations before rolling out across all sites. But for smaller companies or businesses with a few strong customer profiles or very targeted products, starting loyalty and seeing results can come quickly.

How Might YOU Start With Loyalty?

  1. Start by defining your business objectives for loyalty in detail. How would you describe a loyal customer for your business? Write out examples of what they would do, what they would say, what others would say about them.  Outline your goals and how you will define success in a loyalty program.  Knowing or thinking about this upfront gives your marketing team and consultants a clear picture of what needs to be delivered and helps to avoid vague results reporting.
  2. Collect and review the customer data you have. Can you profile your various customers based on their behavioral, purchasing, and other actions with your company?  Have you added in direct feedback from your front line, customer service, and customer surveys?
  3. Either researches a variety of loyalty systems or shortcut the process with the time and experience of a loyalty marketing consultant.  Keep an eye on your own technology requirements for implementation and reporting and look for a system that can scale and grow with your business.
  4. At this point your team will surely have many ideas for possible loyalty program rewards, structures and creative concepts. Harness the brain power and write every idea down, these will be ideas to use or test later.  Once two or three program ideas are created, analyze the cost of set up and the first year. Draft the possible financial scenarios and decide which to launch.

Building loyalty into your company is not a “one-and-done” kind of activity. It’s always a phased and evolving process which gives the company maximum control over costs, gives the customer a continual and expanding reason to stay with you, and gives the company a sustained, profitable, and trackable revenue stream.