With Covid-19 ushering widespread adoption of mobile ordering and fulfilment, app-based loyalty programs have never been more essential for engaging customers and incentivizing repeat purchases.
Plexure’s Head of Marketing, Colin Daymude, hosted a panel of experts to discuss the impact Covid-19 has had on loyalty, the role of technology in the future of loyalty, and how business owners can pivot or react to changing consumer behaviors with loyalty programs.
Below is an abbreviation of the key insights. Alternatively, you can watch a recording of the entire webinar here.
Q: What are customers saying about the needs they have with improving loyalty?
Vic Miles, Microsoft World Wide Retail, Regional Business Leader (Americas):
For many retail customers it’s top of mind. Everyday consumer goods are direct to the consumer. Customers are talking about loyalty more as a sentiment. Then there’s a shopping pattern. They have a need to maintain engagement with their consumers in an increasingly digital, mobile way. And the challenge is that digital engagement requires extreme relevance or you risk complete notification block, or even worse, an uninstall. Having that relevance is critical, and so we spend a lot of time talking about a consumer data platforms.
Q: What is the biggest opportunity for loyalty management to change the game?
The consolidation of all aspects of the customer’s experience being available to solutions like Plexure as well as core marketing, advertisement, and promotions systems. At Microsoft we are working on this consolidation by bringing data across time, in series. This time-series-data is effectively IoT for the customer. Whether it is location, ad consumption, and interaction through all channels. While this may seem like overkill; we believe that interactive mobile solutions like Plexure can make use of this information to enrich customer profiles. Not to mention being able to monetize a richer set of sponsored products for brands.
“[Brands] have a need to maintain engagement with their consumers in an increasingly digital, mobile way. And the challenge is that digital engagement requires extreme relevance or you risk complete notification block, or even worse, an uninstall. Having that relevance is critical.”
Vic Miles, Retail and Consumer Goods Strategy Leader, Microsoft
Q: How does satisfaction play into loyalty?
Zack Oates, Founder & CEO, Ovation (US):
Loyalty is about building and maintaining trust. Every time we meet those expectations trust increases. When we don't resolve it, that trust decreases. It’s interesting in the hospitality space, everything we do is for the guests. It's to create a better guest experience. And yet how does headquarters aggregate feedback to create action at the corporate level to allow visibility and action at the at the local level, so that the guests feel like things are being taken care of?
Have an open dialogue and make it a frictionless dialogue. That way your guests have a way to communicate with you and they have a way to connect with you other than a very public online review. An online review is like you and your significant other going out into the middle of a Times Square and having your argument there, as opposed to having your argument in private on a phone call.
Q: Curbside pickup has become a crucial element of customer service during the pandemic, and it’s a service that’s here to stay. What have you been hearing from brands on how they are attacking curbside/click and collect pickup from a customer success and loyalty aspect?
Cami Zimmer, Glympse, Chief Business Officer:
We're finding they've got various different curbside solutions even on the service side of things. What happened last year about the same time is people took their buy online, pick up in store operations and they just took it out to the curb. That worked well for quite a few in March, April, May, maybe even June last year, but in 2021 that's not going to work.
Companies and brands are coming to us, no matter what the size, saying, “We now need a full-service curbside click and collect solution.” And well, it's all about the customer experience. That's just what customers are expecting.
Q: Can you describe what contactless loyalty is and how brands can begin building a contactless loyalty experience with their customers?
We were seeing and hearing about this even before Covid hit. Contactless loyalty is that act of creating long lasting connections with your customers to keep them coming back to your brand even when human contact is limited. We saw some of this before Covid, and then of course, it's just skyrocketed.
In the last year, it has become more of a critical component. I'm hearing brands attack this contactless loyalty by allowing in-store customers to pay for their shopping through an app maybe on their mobile phone. At the checkout, versus taking their credit card and swiping it and punching in the numbers, they just whip out a one-stop shop on their phone, which links to the rewards program as well.
We talked a little bit about automating email receipts post purchases and email marketing or using QR codes on your smartphone versus touching a screen. Like I said at the self-checkouts or the payment processors, our goal around this is to continue providing customers with an exceptional brand experience (with little or no contact), weaving in your brand loyalty into that very fabric of the contactless shopping experience. You can retain more customers and of course strengthen their emotional connection to your brand.
Q: From your perspective for the fueling and convenience industry, what are the keys to a successful loyalty program?
Will Chun, Dover Fueling Systems, Director of Product Management:
Audience. I think we always have to take a step back and really ask ourselves like what are we really trying to solve here for the customer? So it's about personalization. It's about relevance.
But we all know it doesn't just magically happen. There's a lot of heavy lifting and you've got to really put in the infrastructure. You've got to figure out what your cloud strategy is. You've got to really understand your partners, but ultimately keep it simple.
If you look at our industry, the fuel and convenience industry, we started with full-service many years ago. And that’s a great experience. You didn't even have to get out your car, and that's obviously changed over time. And now it's predominantly a solitary experience where you get out your car and perform a one-to-one transaction.
What we wanted to do was solve that problem set of, how do we make it interesting? How do we make it fun for a commodity that only gets you from point A to point B? And our latest fueling dispenser really does solve that and create an immersive experience. And it's memorable. I mean, what other fueling dispenser will you see that has a 27-inch, high-definition glass screen? It's pretty sexy. And it drives that loyalty. There's so many convenience stores within proximity of everyone's homes. They expect that. So that's really what we're trying to solve. How do we enhance the experience and make it memorable?
Q: How do you pivot or react to changing consumer behaviors with loyalty programs?
When you take a step back, all our lives were changed for better or worse during this time, and what it's really done is its reframed how we look at purchasing. How are we contacting each other, and how are we talking to one another today, via Zoom? I think for us when we look at what are the changing behaviors for consumers it's always evolving, and that's the fun and beauty of trying to solve these problems as behavior changes over time. So for us, what is the problem we're trying to solve? We've got to be in front of these problems to try to get a better sense of them.