The face of customer loyalty is changing constantly with the increasing cut-throat competition between companies. There are a hell lot of retail options available to customers. So what makes a person choose one over another? And there comes the most basic customer retention techniques- rewards for their loyalty. They have made themselves as Loyalty Rewards Company – a give-away reward to retain their customers. But is it the future? Do customers really want to be engaged in this way only?
The future is Artificial Intelligence. AI will help in gaining a foothold in this very competitive environment. AI consists of speech recognition, natural language understanding for creating better intelligent assistants. They will help customers with accessing information and completing tasks. AI will result in better business processes and customer orientation. The urge is there from customer side to make it more personalized and nothing can do it better with Machine Learning, which is a part of AI. Companies like Nectar are leveraging upon the technology giving their customers more personalized offers and they are very successful. As more customers use their Loyalty Rewards Programs and other digital channels, the better the machine learns about what is relevant for them. Customers are more likely to shop with retailers that deliver more personalized experiences.
Machine learning will totally eliminate the guessing work, it uses the data & analytics to provide the most likely predictions. Loyalty Reward Management programs basically will be utilizing the customer’s prior behavior on certain set of rules. For example, AI facilitates virtual assistants that can monitor the customers on the basis of their engagement in good behavior and then they could be rewarded for it. This reward would lead to more loyal behavior, and all of this will be done without any human interference. Further, this will significantly reduce the marketing cost since they would be targeting only the most relevant customers.
In the very future only, machine learning and AI would be touching every industry and customer loyalty is no different. A Loyalty program company which will use AI and Machine learning will no longer have different teams working on different campaigns for designing and managing offers schemes and discounts for their customers. So, with the help of Machine learning, they would not have to push 200 offers to everyone, but to push 20 offers for 20 type of audience which would have a higher conversion rate with low cost.
Also, the ability to deliver real-time personalized offers based on the ever-learning algorithms will completely replace the traditional loyalty programs. AI will disrupt business functions in nearly every industry. Different loyalty rewards companies are heading towards adopting this technology for better retention of their customers.
It is the age of the millennials — also commonly known as the Gen Y. This savvy generation not only comprises smart customers, but also include decision makers in top firms. Holding the largest share in the consumer marketplace, they have taken it hands on to change the rules of how brands engage and conduct their customer-experience design. It’s both easy and difficult to gain millennials’ loyalty. But the job is half-done once their tech-savvy psyche is grasped!
- Customer-facing technology can’t be slow or complicated
Millennials have always embraced and aligned themselves with technology. So a user experience that is not friendly, simple, fast and advanced, is generally frowned upon by consumers. Companies should be careful not to present an obsolete process or a complicated system to consumers that will keep them away.
- Smartphones have been the norm for millenials
Millennials are used to getting everything immediately and experiencing everything in real time. The queries need to be attended to as soon as possible and in an authentic language; otherwise, the customer moves on to someone else who understands him/her more.
- Purchasing, for millennials, is a social experience
Engaging on social media is a part of everyday life for millennials. Often, these posts concern their consumption activities, their next purchase or what they might be looking for. This greatly affects businesses — as the opinion and review of one consumer could influence another.
- Millennials seek an authentic and engaging experience
Which is why the company website should include a FAQ page — how to go about making a purchase, detailed repercussions of what could go wrong, or any sort of guidance. This can be done either through articles or videos — where customers can discover quick-fix methods and find instant solution to all their problems.
- Interference or help from customer care is considered tedious
This means that they are self-reliant too and do not need customer-care executives getting in the way, just to mess up their whole experience. More often than not, they would prefer self service.
- Surprisingly, they also want to co-exist
They’re open to new experiences and want to associate with the brand more than with just a transaction. To speak plainly, millennials are adventurous and seek the same from the brand. For example, a cause supported by a favourite company would also be supported by the loyal customers.
The bottom line is that — nothing with the millennials can be taken for granted. The skeptical approach of the previous generations also needs to be done away with. They move fast, like to experiment and are prone to changing loyalties only after one bad experience. It would also be good to know what the target audience is, in order for customer service to be innovative, seamless and top-notch on the whole.
The success of an idea depends on how adaptable it is to the current needs of the system. The ability to amend brand strategies is the key to longevity irrespective of the industry, including the wide domain of customer loyalty. In recent surveys, a massive 65% of the CMO council agreed upon the significance of investing in loyalty strategies. A sudden heat is expected in the arena of loyalty, sooner rather than later. A brief study of the Future Loyalty programs in the following section suggests that the coming times will be of huge significance and the right investments might ensure a smooth systematic function.
The future, in case of loyalty programs, is set to drift away from pushing marketing strategies on customers, onto a more promising approach of making the experience a little easier for the customer. With an approach as simple as deploying loyalty program to make customers’ lives easier, or providing an exclusive loyalty program that rewards via a customisable experience based on individual customers’ needs, the future has taken a turn for good. Retailers, who hope to succeed, must possess the content, a strategy and insightful ideas that can be seeded in conversation with customers to figure out their needs and compliment them in a more suitable manner.
A trend of feedback loops with personalisation and targeting engines is set to present itself to the market. The power of a positive review will dominate the centre stage – retailers and brands will be pushing to engage in conversations, allowing them to progressively learn and develop an unrivalled experience for their customers. Loyalty programs that contextualise all relevant data points shall emerge as victors– delivering push marketing messages and lucrative offers to drive customers into the stores or onto the e-commerce platforms is not going to be enough. Successful retailers and brands must know and comprehend what their customers tend to and analyse the data to fuel targeted conversations that enable the loyal customers to open up about their experiences. Negative criticism is set to trend with a strong, reassuring vibe attached to it.
Loyalty programs, if aimed for huge success, need to continue to support an overall experience of the brand, and should be designed with customers, taking in consideration the minutest of details. The retailers and brands need to embrace the need of the hour; they need to give up control. The real power of loyalty is to enable customers to voice an opinion; loyalty programs will increasingly align themselves to the customer experience side of businesses and emerge as a channel for developing connections with loyal customers on a personal level.
The future of loyalty programs needs a retailer or a brand to enable a broader range of interaction with their customers. Personalisation and customisation, are therefore the keys to ensure the right elements of customer experience are delivered to the loyal customers. They generate a high value of engagement and equally, retailers need to create opportunities through their loyalty programs for customers to engage with their interests.
Loyalty programs have the ability to connect the dots of data from across the multichannel experiences and recognise the areas to be emphasized upon. Mining the data to create these opportunities to strengthen and improve one’s service is an invaluable and relatively untapped resource for retailers. With such advancements and a rising need to acquire the customer base, the future of loyalty programs, it seems, is infinitely bright and headed towards a remarkable journey.
Employee rewards programs sound like something we can all benefit from, based of some known facts: generic rewards aren’t entirely effective, whereas the ones tailored to compliment the company can have a significant impact. Custom employee rewards contribute significantly to boost the engagement and company culture. Upon due consideration, we must realise the fact that implementing a rewards program isn’t always a step forward to success, unless it’s done the right way. Following this statement, is a list of the top five things not to do when designing a detailed employee rewards program:
- Turning a blind eye to the history: One must never design a rewards program without an in depth knowledge and a detailed insight into the company’s past history with rewards. Finances are always to be kept in check; the tangible rewards mustn’t be finalised without identifying the appropriate behaviours to be rewarded. Rewards can be misused and misdirected; behaviours can’t always be changed without social reinforcement. Make wise decisions because reward programs tend to take the wrong direction, a consequence of an unplanned beginning.
- Basing KPI’s on biased assumptions: Presuming that one knows what behaviours should be rewarded to produce the desired business growth, can be a reason for an unsuccessful rewards program. Observe, learn, converse, and connect with the employees to identify the behaviours that need addressing. Basing KPI’s on assumptions leaves a scope for biased opinions, which in turn, leads to undesired growth factors.
- Ignoring the objective metrics: Know the objectives of your rewards program and figure out a way to measure them. A common mistake occurs when only the subjective measures of effectiveness are considered, ignoring the objective metrics. Rewarding the wrong behaviour is never recommended. Remember, what you reward is what you’ll receive.
- Undermining the feedbacks: Rewards program tend to flourish when they incorporate employee and manager input. The job isn’t done yet, with rewarding; it requires taking feedbacks to find out if the reward makes an impact. Ask the recipients for a scope of improvement and apply the principles learned to design better the next time.
- Underestimating the significance of recognition: Individuals who earn the rewards for their exceptional performances must know the specific reason for the recognition. A meaningful, sincere recognition encourages a positive behaviour in the future. Don’t restrict the rewards program to a mere transaction; it can be a great step forward to build personal relationships.
Appreciation is a fundamental need for humans to work with some motivation. Employees respond to appreciation because it is a reassurance of the value of their work. When recognised in a proper way, the productivity is set to increase, for there is a motivation to keep up the good work. Hence, an employee rewards program requires a lot of planning and organisation, to work in an unperturbed fashion; keeping in mind the foremost things to avoid. A well planned ERP can act like a catalyst, and give cause to an exponentially rising upsurge in the business charts of a company.
Retailers appeal to customers’ buying habits with incentives in order to outsell their competition. This trend has been in practice since the beginning of time. Over years, retail has continued to evolve, and following the birth of ecommerce in the early 1990s, loyalty strategies have made a migration to the digital platforms with definite motives. With all of the online and offline rewards programs emerging every passing moment, one might begin to wonder where exactly the differences lay between them. A detailed study of both the platforms leads to a clearer opinion about the debate that has raised quite a few opinions.
Offline Loyalty Programs:
Location has always held significant consideration on its part, for customers who choose to purchase products in-store, rather than an online purchase. However, additional expenses may be associated with visiting a particular store to purchase a certain product. Although, customers tend to come back on their own simply due to the close proximity to a specific store, retailers must still be aiming to appeal to their customers’ best interests with their loyalty programs. Following are some of the strategies tailored to benefit the offline sales environment:
- Social Sharing: High chances prevail that customers will browse through physical stores through social networks before the purchase. The current generation of customers, in particular, spend a considerable amount of time on mobile devices, checking into social media accounts and with such exposure, harnessing social sharing power is a genius way to entice customers to shop with you. Rewarding customers for sharing their experiences with the products on platforms like Twitter and Instagram gives retailers the opportunity to create brand influencers while incorporating their brand into the everyday social fabric of their customer base.
- VIP Tiers: VIP tiers allow retailers to acknowledge and evaluate their best customer base with exclusive benefits and rewards. Simply effective at increasing customer engagement, VIP tiered programs give the the customers an opportunity to earn more, which in turn encourages them to spend more. VIP programs have emerged as an excellent solution for brick-and-mortar retailers, because once a customer is committed, they are more likely to engage themselves with a specific store. It’s the perfect example of how exclusive benefits, as opposed to discounts, set a brand apart from the herd.
Online Loyalty Programs: One of the most significant reasons people prefer to shop online is discount prices, which doesn’t come as a surprise given the fact that many such people don’t even have a savings account. Online shopping has taken the commercial merchants by storm, and is soon to dominate, which raises a need for loyalty programs to ensure a customer base. With the facility to shop around and buy at the lowest price in a matter of seconds, there are many ways ecommerce merchants can work to keep their customers hooked.
- VIP Tiers: VIP Tiers is a perfect example of some of the strategies which can be incorporated in both online and offline platforms. Tiers are especially known to industries like supplements and cosmetics because they have intense levels of competition. Brands that reward customer loyalty with benefits and transactional rewards are more appealing in a more obvious sense. Offering customers access to exclusive events or product launches are some of the many ways that retailers can give recognition to their VIP customers, considering that these loyal customers are responsible for a majority of their business.
- Engagement Touch Points: One must provide the customers with ways to engage outside of the shopping cart if one wishes to make his online brand stand out. With a rising trend of using smartphones for all manner of online activity, people are searching for experiences that complement their lifestyle. Referral programs are an excellent way to encourage customers to engage with one’s brand throughout their everyday necessities, and can be seen as the evolution of the old school reward systems.
No matter what you’re selling, where’re you’re selling; whether it’s online or offline, a loyalty program is a proven way to acquire a huge customer base. Through exclusive rewards, beneficiary initiatives, and social awareness, one can treat customers to a lifestyle and loyalty experience unlike anywhere else, making one’s brand a priority for them, every time they go shopping.
10 Epic Ways to Reward Your Employees
Don’t Break the Bank – Inexpensive Employee Rewards Programs
Certificate of achievement: Honor the employee how acquires a unique acknowledgment, give him or her an extraordinary nametag and also a certificate that articulates their achievement.
Thank you meeting: A sincere word of thanks costs nothing and is very effective. Saying thanks about something specific may be the ultimate reward. The words “thank you” are powerful. And sometimes all you need to do is to say it sincerely.
Wall of Fame: Create a wall of fame for each recognized employee. Make a point to compose underneath their photo what they did that you’re remembering them for.
Company apparel: Offering employees free company apparel and other logo merchandise can be one of the simple employee rewards programs.
Recognition in front of peers: Feature your representatives accomplishments by recognizing them in an organization meeting, bulletin or on your organization Intranet site.
Department recognition bulletin board: Consistently a designated bulletin board highlights their duties regarding the affiliation, the individual employees, their most noticeable achievements, etc.
Secret Santa-style appreciation: Use the “Secret Santa” concept. Have all employees draw a name of another employee. They would then identify an achievement/contribution particular to that person and send an anonymous note of appreciation.
Work-from-home day: Remember significant events in your employees’ personal lives, and give them a work-from-home day so they can participate without worrying about coming into the office on time.
Sticky Notes: Post a sticky note on their monitor, expressing profound gratitude and saying why. Simple, yet compelling, when it’s authentic.
Standing O: Get all your employees together in the same room. Then welcome the employee you’re recognizing and give him or her an overwhelming applause.
The Morphing Trophy: Get a big trophy and give it to the employee you are recognizing for the week. At the end of the week, they must return the trophy but they need to add one thing to it. Then next week give it to the next winner. At the end of the year, you’ll have a trophy with 52 things stuck to it. It looks crazy and has lots of memories. At the end of the year, retire the trophy and put it in your reception area. Do it every year.
So which one are you trying out for your team?
Brands have been utilizing loyalty and rewards program within their customer community to keep their customers happy and well away from competition. From loyalty cards, discount coupons to scratch & win offers, brands have been using rewards as an incentive to create a customer base and also keep them loyal to the brand.
In the new digital age, such rewards have been upgraded. Digital rewards are the new ‘in’ thing that bring many advantages to both the customer and the brand. From making it easier for the customers to get their rewards to spreading the word about a brand, digital rewards have given the marketplace a new tool to expand brand reach and loyalty.
Digital rewards are both diverse and abundant. These are a few up-and-coming rewards that are catching the eye of the marketers:
According to a study by Mercator Advisory Group, it was found that in 2015 most of the money spent on gift cards was redeemed as eGifts. With the heavy increase in digital buying, it makes more sense for brands to motivate customers through eGifts.
Moreover, brands can also use eGifts to rewards employees to acknowledge their hard work on projects or commemorate special occasions. This builds the confidence in the employees and helps with brand loyalty.
Coupons and codes
With greater numbers opting for online buying, it makes sense for brands to give their offers and discounts in the virtual world. Coupons and codes that are sent exclusively to loyal customers makes them feel special and helps retain them.
Incentives like cash backs and discounts, mobile wallets have taken online marketing by storm. Creating a niche where customers are incentivised for their buying behaviour has only increased the appeal of mobile wallets.
Benefits of digital rewards program
Increases the brand’s value
The power of digital rewards is that it gives the customer a sense of empowerment. With every amount they save or a prize they win, it helps build an image of a brand that it is not in business for the profits. It builds the image of a brand that genuinely cares about its customers.
Provides the customers with more choices
The brand gives the customers the option of choosing the kind of rewards they want. Either it would be as loyalty points that can be redeemed for discounts or gifts or in the form of promotional codes that are given to an exclusive customer community.
Each reward program is made around the customer, their preferences, previous encounters with the brand and their redemption history. This makes the program more relevant and useful to the customer.
Unlike the days when one had to send a letter to a brand with a token to get a gift, the digital rewards program helps both brands and customers get instant rewards. As soon as a customer provides a preferred action (like, tweet), the customer is provided with their reward. It needs less effort from the customer too.
Get rewarded anytime, anywhere
There is no limit to the application of digital rewards. People can be rewarded just by signing up for a newsletter and this can be done from anywhere. Because of the high mobility of the digital market, people can redeem their rewards just about anywhere.
Brings positive interaction between brand and customer
Everybody likes free gifts. Digital rewards help people collect more rewards doing what they do the most nowadays – being a part of the social media sphere. Reward programs also help in spreading the news about a brand since people share the newest offers with their friends and family.
Incentive to be a loyal customer
With the reward point application, people tend to stay loyal customers to get greater rewards over time. But the rewards need to be good enough to keep the customers interested.
Helps engage on the social media
Facebook and Twitter are where most of a brand’s customer base is situated. Potential customers also reside in the digital sphere. Having current customers talk about a brand on their social media helps in increasing exposure and value. Digital rewards do just that by giving customers freebies when they engage with the brand on social media.
The cost of setting up a digital rewards platform takes less money than the traditional card-based loyalty programs. It is also easier for customers to check-up on their points and look for other offers that are available.
As can be seen, ‘digital rewards’ is the new mantra to creating a brand identity that is more personal and effective.
With RewardPort programs, your brand gets higher visibility among its customers.
A recent study showed that customers are 58 percent more likely to tell others about their experience with a brand than they would have done five years ago. One important outlet for this exchange is the social sphere which gives consumers and businesses the opportunity to reach lots of people.
As the taste of consumers align with new market contexts, businesses must look for applicable ways to engage them beyond building traditional relationships. Most customers expect their vendors to engage with them through digital channels. Interestingly, it is not just one channel but an Omni channel approach. This includes the social media, the web, email and other channels.
Small and Mid-size companies must take advantage of these new outlets to drive their brand. The technological and demographic changes that are sweeping across the economic landscape have changed the playing field. Most customers prefer having their questions or problems resolved without needing to talk with a customer service agent. Furthermore, customers want to engage with a brand on their own terms; either through human interaction or a digital channel. Small and Mid-size organizations that do not offer multiple engagement channels may sabotage their relationship with their customers or remain at a competitive disadvantage.
It is important to have a portfolio of services that connect with your customers when and where they want. The Human and digital channels of interaction must be properly optimized. Every business can get a virtual receptionist team which can double as a virtual assistant. They would screen and transfer calls to a representative of a small business based on agreed schedules. Beyond the administrative functions of this team, they can process orders, make outbound calls, answer customer service questions and schedule appointments.
Another important platform is to run an effective digital engagement system. A good digital platform allows your customers to be educated on your business and product offers, amplify the sales process, resolve service issues, connect with prospects, answer customer questions and so much more.
When your Omni channel platform gives an outstanding experience to your customers, they ultimately become your brand advocates. It is essential to buttress the fact that great customer service occurs on multiple fronts. There is no leading brand that can retain a large share of the market by using one channel to reach its audience. Customers need a relevant, compelling and consistent service to remain loyal to a brand. When your business has many advocates pushing its case in the market, it creates a positive impact on your bottom-line.
On the long run, one positive customer experience reduces the number of service inquiries that you get. The customers who are loyal to your brand begin to share their good times with others. The place of good customer service goes beyond the one on one relationship you share with your customers. It is important to entrench your brand and connect with your market through the multiple channels that are available. With a careful forecast, investment and plan, any business can be able to position their brand as leaders with a viable Omni channel framework.
Available statistic shows that about 20 to 40% of most business’ capital is tied up in inventory. This portends that any business that mismanages its inventory levels even to a small degree can have a huge challenge on their hands. It can affect their capacity to operate effectively and it can place a huge burden on the Company’s finances. The more inventory any business holds the higher the likelihood of running into costly issues such as tampering, theft, damage and stock excesses, obsolescence and so much more. Also, excess inventory on retail shelves can keep you at the mercy of market fluctuations in commodity value.
Here are things you can do to get rid of excess inventory from retail shelves:
Flow with the Market: When the market value of a good dips significantly below what you paid when you were acquiring them, keeping hold of a sizeable quantity of those goods can affect your business. As any effective inventory manager will admit, there is no way to completely insulate yourself from overstock. However, you can run with a plan that helps you reduce your inventory to optimum levels. This would also aid the financial state of your business and position you for other great prospects.
The major goal of controlling your inventory level is to ensure you have enough to match the fluctuations in customer demand. You do not need to tie your cash in maintaining unnecessary stock. You can reduce inventory by communicating effectively down the supply chain. The engagements at each stage must be in sync and data driven. This will ensure that goods reach your customers without interruption while the safety stock requirements will be kept to a minimum. Some organizations use inventory management software to fulfill this role. Every process manager across the distribution channel is can be properly positioned to work with up to date data which creates effectiveness.
Get rid of surplus or obsolete inventory: Inventory management software can help a business to identify obsolete or surplus inventory. It is important to earmark the most effective way of taking out obsolete inventory. The long term damage of holding in unnecessary stock outweighs the damage of holding on to it in the short term. There are a number of channels which businesses can use to dispose unwanted inventory. The first thing to do is to categorize the stock that needs to be scrapped or thrown away, those that can be sold off and the stock that can be used within the organization.
You can also negotiate the option of returning surplus stock to the supplier. Closeout and special discount offers is a good avenue to increase customer demand and move excess inventory. Goods which are sold at a discount in an International market allow the retailer to get back part of his investment while moving the stock. As a last resort, it may be vital to give the goods to a cause or charity which will create some goodwill in the community or you can simply scrap them.
It is important for a business to invest in running with a good inventory management system. This would help to reduce the challenges in your supply chain while improving your profit margins.
It is interesting to talk about a subject that is creating so much buzz across various business circles. There is a lot of evidence that points to businesses enjoying higher sales through active engagement of their point of sales units. The influence of the out of store online activities on in-store purchase decisions is unique and worth a close look. The moment a consumer is about to do a transaction; it is critical to build loyalty and create multiple income channels for your business.
The message of marketers to attract customer interest in various brands has reached a saturation stage. Sadly, this has led to a point of diminishing returns for marketers who operate in various industries. This means that any business that wants to stay ahead of the pack must be able to communicate with its consumers at the right moments in order to win the lion’s share of the customer’s attention.
One of the best ways to engage this opportunity or business dynamic is to envision the engaged consumer as a segment all by itself. Many brands have an opportunity to engage a great number of their clients but are not paying attention to this new trend. It is important to give a high priority to this move in order to draw customers that would be loyal and valuable to your brand in the long term. Here are 4 of the channels of engagement at the point of sale of consumer goods that is generating the right results:
Text Message promotions
Shoppers can be enticed to enter contests while shopping with the use of an effective text message. It is important to get the buyers’ consent in order to interact with them and build a strong following for your brand through their mobile device. About 67% of individuals do their shopping through a mobile device so this is a channel that must not be overlooked. You can create a trend by telling them the best time to shop while tying it to various store locations where you may want to drive increased sales.
Email Coupon programs
Consumers can register to receive limited time offers and coupons from their favorite brands. They opt in for such messages/communication from in-store promotions, brand websites, text message, mail messages or in response to calls. You can track the conversion rate from this medium and further understand the location from which the consumer makes the purchase. This can help you to build a strong data and dominate the market that you serve.
Consumers are encouraged to register on the sites and provide important details about themselves. The data would capture their social network profile, information about their household and this can aid the message, research, segmentation or relevance of your sales approach to reach them. This can help you create a stronger engagement with even the most passive customer on your list.
Social media connects brands to their customers like no other channel. When this avenue is well harnessed, it can influence the shopper’s behavior and increase the profit margins of any business.