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Trends and Tactics in Customer Loyalty: Part Two
In the initial blog post on customer loyalty, we looked at the growth of customer loyalty programs, key factors that influence customer loyalty, and what customers are increasingly searching to improve in the programs in which they participate. This post addresses how retailers are giving customers what they want to secure their loyalty.
 
In the second part of the series on customer loyalty programs, Retail TouchPoints (RTP) associate editor Alicia Fiorletta addresses how retailers are integrating customer loyalty programs across every communications and commercial touch point. This omnichannel approach is becoming increasingly dominant in the retail sector. Fiorletta notes:
Omnichannel retailing is evolving at a rapid pace. In order to better connect with savvy consumers, best-in-class retailers are revising their loyalty programs and initiatives to create differentiated and customized experiences. Although deals, coupons and incentives continue to drive loyalty initiatives, retailers must be sure to focus strategies on providing great customer experiences across all channels.
As example of how this is working successfully, she cites Stride Rite’s Rewards Program, whose membership exceeded a million within six months “due to the ability for participants to receive instant access to rewards, account information and products across all channels.”
 

While technology is essential in executing omnichannel tactics, the role of in-store associates remains a critical factor. A recent post by Tai Aguirre on the Taico Incentive Services blog notes the central role that employees play in achieving customer loyalty, and in influencing the success of omnichannel tactics:

The influence your employees have on how your company delivers a great brand experience cannot be overemphasized. An engaged workforce creates a performance culture that becomes visible to your customers. When problems arise, as they certainly will, your employees will be up to the task of providing a positive customer experience. Engaged employees are deeply involved in figuring out how to meet your organization's objectives for the good of all.

Esprit Smith, Marketing Consultant for the Retail & Consumer Practice at Lenati reiterates this in the RTP piece: “Retailers should train front-line employees to understand the importance of a loyalty program. Since store associates typically are the first point of contact with the customer, they need to thoroughly understand the benefits for the customer as well as for the brand and organization.”
 
By connecting with consumers at the point of sale and throughout the shopping experience, associates can share more details on loyalty initiatives, as well as the variety of perks consumers can receive once they register in the program.
 
As Inc. notes in a recent article, true customer loyalty is the ultimate goal of these efforts, and “true customer loyalty means making the relationship more important than making the sale.”
 
Loyalty 360.org summarizes that customer loyalty programs are not a panacea, but work with other customer experience factors (e.g., price, convenience, product availability and customer service) delivered through seamless omnichannel techniques.
 
How are you pursuing customer loyalty in your business? What kind of programs have you implemented? We’d love to know your thoughts on how to get true customer loyalty?
 
For a full copy of RTP study Customer Loyalty in 2013 and Beyond, click here.
 
Posted by Doug Smith, Senior Product Manager, Epicor

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