Ten years ago, creating customer loyalty meant assigning a membership number customers fed back to brands at the time of purchase. Customers went through the trouble of keeping track of loyalty numbers, hoping to collect enough points along the way to earn rewards or better deals in the future. Despite changing times and customer expectations, some brands still treat customer loyalty this way. Those brands will soon lose any loyalty they have. So why are so many brands sticking to the points systems of the 90s?
Customer Loyalty Can’t be a Matter of Points
Points are easy to manage in the current siloed org set up of brands. The Loyalty Team sits in Marketing. That relatively small team manages the many partner relationships that enable the sharing of points across products.
An airline customer, for instance, can accrue and redeem points in a hotel or at a rent-a-car branch. Current practice says there is no need to integrate customer support across those touch points or to manage the quality of the customer journeys generated by these experiences. If something goes wrong, it is up to the customer to find the best support number to call.
In this sense, the loyalty team mainly supports the accounting and reconciliations of the points and partnerships portfolio. Although suboptimal in terms of returns, this setup is convenient because it does not require change management for brands.
Customer Loyalty Lifestyle
Lifestyle brands treat customer loyalty very differently. They equate customer experience with customer loyalty. If a brand offers consistent, engaging, and seamless experience then loyalty becomes an organic by-product of those experiences. Smart brands realize that true loyalty comes from customer habits. When engaging with a brand becomes a reflex, you know there is a true bond between brand and customer.
Achieving that connection is easier said than done. It requires organizational, cross-functional commitment. To get there, you do not need to have a separate Loyalty Team. Everyone is on the loyalty team. This marks a different approach to loyalty than the organizational perspective. It is the way of the future for customer loyalty.
Employee Engagement is Essential
Building employee engagement is a key component for an organization with a loyalty mission. A brand whose workforce is disengaged cannot generate customer commitment. This is where culture plays an important role. Brands that understand the value of customer loyalty also understand that loyalty begins in-house.
These brands invest in technology that enables employees to deliver exceptional customer experiences. They measure employee satisfaction on a regular basis. Treating employees as customers is a proven way to elevate employees to brand ambassadors who build loyalty organically every day.
VOC Lessons Apply In-House
The same rules that apply for VOC (Voice of Customer) should be used for VOE (Voice of Employee). Listen to your employees. Build a close loop mechanism so employees can understand what happened to their feedback, and you can take action based on their inputs. To get executive engagement, make VOE results one of the metrics that define executive compensation. Follow these basic rules and loyalty generates naturally.
Employee engagement and VOE need meaningful investment and commitment from the leadership team. In some cases, they also require thoughtful reorganization. It is not the easiest change to implement, but it is more powerful than you think. There is nothing more impactful than activating the people who already work for you to CARE about your customer experiences.
For them to care, though, you need to care too.
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