It can be challenging to know what could make your business stand out from the pack in a world of high competition and competing brands. As a business owner, you can be forgiven for struggling to consider and analyse what can be done to improve the customer experience. Luckily, your loyalty program can be the very thing to help you grow and improve.
This article discusses how to leverage your loyalty program to gain valuable customer feedback and improve your business.
Creating a loyalty program is one of the most effective ways to engage your customers and turn them into advocates and long-term customers. Loyalty programs allow customers the opportunity to create a sustained and engaging relationship with your brand and provide you with valuable feedback on how to continually improve your customer experience.
The Ultimate Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs
Learn how to create a successful loyalty program that retains customers and boosts sales.
A good loyalty program can be an excellent tool that helps you collect customer data and understand your customers’ preferences and buying habits. This enables you to tailor your business model, services, and offerings to the needs of your most valuable customers.
This article will teach you how to create a loyalty program that gives you valuable insights into your customer base and increases customer retention. Let’s get started.
What types of loyalty programs are there?
We could spend hours analysing and describing hundreds of types of loyalty programs, however when you consolidate all the information, we can base all programs on a few key styles.
Customer Rewards Program
This is a program in which customers are given a card or number that they can use to collect their points at check-out. For every dollar spent, the customer might earn one point. After accumulating enough of these points, the customer will be rewarded with some kind of discount or benefit.
Point programs aim to help businesses track when people visit stores (physical or online), how many times each individual has visited in total per certain period (monthly), what items were purchased on average overall visits during that month, and other details like vouchers or codes redeemed throughout various visits.
Point-based systems are helpful for tracking data about customers and businesses can use this information to improve future experiences for them.
A Tick-Off Card or Stamp Card
A tick-off or stamp card system is a great way for smaller businesses to encourage repeat business and reward sales. For example, if you go into a coffee shop and make one purchase, they might give you one hole punch on your card. After enough punches (usually after 10), the customer will be given either a free product or a discount as an incentive to come back again.
This is a customer acquisition strategy that can promote positive relationships with customers. Customers are rewarded for sharing information about your business with friends and family – typically, when they refer other people who go on to make a purchase, they get rewarded with discounts on their next purchase. The referral program ensures efficiency in acquiring new customers while fostering an environment of reciprocation and goodwill among current ones.
Many businesses these days reward customers by tapping into their intrinsic values – what drives them as good citizens. A value-based program can range from a donation to a cause, or a percentage of profits being allocated to a charitable project or program.
When a loyalty program’s structure aligns with customer values, those customers will turn into brand ambassadors and become repeat clients.
Exclusive Membership Options (Paid or Free)
This style of program is based on a customer being able to sign up to be part of a loyalty program that is viewed as exclusive. This could be as simple as signing up to receive an email through to paying for the privilege to gain access to discounts, sneak peeks, or sales and networking events.
Asking a customer to pay for access to a loyalty program may seem a little daunting, however, a 2020 McKinsey Report outlined that members of premium loyalty programs are 60% more likely to spend more with a business, while free loyalty programs only increase that likelihood by 30%.
Why Use a Loyalty Program to Gain Feedback?
Once you have chosen the style of loyalty program that might suit you and your business, this is now an excellent chance for you to ask for customer feedback and improve sales. Some business owners overlook this stage of the client relationship, but let’s explain why it is important.
Gain Valuable Insights
The most important reason to use a loyalty program is to get insights into your customers’ preferences and purchasing habits. By collecting feedback through a loyalty program, you can learn what your customers value the most, and how you can continue to build a relationship with them.
Whether you offer a frequent visit program, a sign-up discount, or a voucher redeemable at check-out, collecting customer feedback, usage and data is a valuable way to look back on what’s worked best for your business and where improvements can be made.
Collecting customer feedback through a loyalty program allows you to gain valuable insight into your customer preferences and buying habits. With this feedback, you can create customised experiences for your most loyal customers.
Build Customer Trust
Asking customers for their feedback through a loyalty program builds trust with your customers as they feel you value their opinion. If you action this feedback and reward them for providing it, the level of trust will continue to grow.
Build Brand Awareness
Collecting feedback through a loyalty program provides you with another opportunity to build brand awareness. For you as a business, surveying your customers will help you to learn what they like about your business as well as keep your goods and services at the forefront of their minds.
Increase Customer Retention
Collecting customer feedback through a loyalty program can increase customer retention, as it allows you to identify areas for improvement and serve your customers better.
By using the information to improve your business, such as by addressing any issues customers have with your products or services and will make your business more appealing for repeat business.
Make Better Decisions
Collecting customer feedback through a loyalty program can help you make better business decisions. This information can be used to identify areas for improvement and create strategies for making your business grow. Customer feedback allows you to identify any trends that are emerging and make adjustments to your business model accordingly. Remember, data-driven business decisions are often successful business decisions!
How to gain valuable customer feedback
You must use your loyalty program to gain customer feedback to build success. Offering your customers and clients a chance to provide feedback, both good and bad, can help create stronger relationships moving forward and shows your respect and value for their purchases.
Wondering how to collect feedback? Here are four of the most common types of customer feedback you can get to help you improve your business.
Product or Service Reviews
Reviews are essential for any business, especially those that serve a niche market or offer a niche product or service. Reviews let customers communicate what they like about your business and what they don’t like.
You can collect reviews in several ways, depending on your goals and your customer experience. Some tips are obvious, like offering a discount to future customers, offering a special deal to those who leave a review, or placing a sign near your storefront that encourages customers to leave reviews.
Other ways to encourage reviews are more subtle, like offering free shipping, free samples, or a special deal to one customer who leaves a review.
Surveys are very similar to asking customers for reviews, but they’re a little more structured. A survey allows you to ask about a range of different topics and can be amended to suit the needs of your business at the time. Wondering what additional items to sell? Not sure if your pricing is on point? Ask the people!
There are a number of free and simple survey tools available that are an option for any size business.
Tip: If you are a café using a tick-off card system, ask those who are using the card to answer a short survey (on a conveniently placed touch screen) to gain an additional stamp. You already have a loyal customer so why not use this as a chance to gain valuable feedback.
Customer Satisfaction Feedback
Post-purchase surveys let you collect feedback after a sale and are a great way to measure customer satisfaction and find out what aspects of your product customers would like to see improved. This can help you prioritise your product roadmap and make sure you’re delivering the best product possible.
Tip: If you run a values-based program, you already have an emotional connection to the customer so use this relationship for more details. As an example, “Thank you for helping us save the pandas, while you’re here can you let us know what you think?”
Complaints and Issues
Any successful business will use complaints as a chance to improve – if something is wrong, it’s really in your best interests to fix this.
Ignoring complaints is a sure-fire way of missing vital information that can help the future of your profits. Ensure your business has an option that allows your customers to explain complaints and issues easily and use this as a chance to turn a detractor into a fan!
Tip: Once you have looked into and acted on the complaint, this would be an excellent chance to offer the customer a chance to be part of your loyalty program as a gesture of goodwill.
Let’s Sum Up
According to the Harvard Business Review, “feedback that doesn’t lead to action is meaningless. They are inseparable aspects of the same system”. This means it is all well and good to gain customer feedback, but it’s what you do with it that is the actual success factor.
We can provide you with all the reasons, styles, and tools but as a business owner, the onus is on you to use this data to improve sales and success.
It’s important to not feel swamped and overwhelmed with data and feedback, allocate a dedicated amount of time to review and analyse surveys and reviews and treat this time as a vital business action.
Are you seeing a consistent stream of excellent reviews for a particular product? Consider how you can expand the options – perhaps a different colour, or offer a two-for-one option to your loyalty group.
Are surveys saying that your customers are buying your products as a gift for others? Consider expanding your referral program and encourage more customers to advocate for your products.
Are you experiencing constant complaints about one staff member? It may be time to use this data and feedback to make an important staffing decision.
As a successful business, you should develop the skills and knowledge to build and implement a loyalty program and use this both to your advantage in terms of sales and future improvements.
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