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  • NETMEDIA International

[Tribune] The new loyalty levers

Creating an emotional bond with your customer community, adaptability of loyalty programmes... Companies are evolving to retain their customers.

Loyalty trends evolved over the years and even more so with the arrival of the Gafa. When we evoke loyalty today, two factors come up regularly: attachment to the brand and customer benefit. While there are still loyalty "programmes" based on the traditional model with cards, vouchers and other more or less interesting advantages, many brands have moved to a higher level by deploying a range of services that make them particularly attractive, or even essential.

Brand appeal

In 2021, customers are more knowledgeable, more demanding, more volatile and often expect more than just the "delivery" of a product or service. 64% of a brand's customers are loyal to it for a set of values. The arrival of giants such as Amazon, CDiscount, Veepee, Asos, etc. has turned customer service into the ultimate loyalty lever. Often, these major brands have been able to intelligently exploit data to achieve ever greater personalisation, use value for the customer, and therefore retention within their platform.

Other digital providers have taken a very different path. This is the case of the DNVBs (digital natives vertical brands), these brands born on social networks, such as Sézane, Respire or Le Slip Français. Mastering the entire value chain from design to distribution, DNVBs have created a relationship of trust and proximity with their customers, which is their strength. Success is guaranteed for these brands, which have first worked to create a committed community around their brand and their products, to make it a powerful growth lever.

Loyalty pays off!

In the first instance, loyalty saves time and resources. Why? Retaining a customer can cost up to five times less than winning over new ones. In e-commerce, this figure rises to 7! It is not a question of abandoning the recruitment of new customers, but of working on loyalty because its ROI is unquestionable. A loyal customer is also a customer who is willing to pay more for a quality product or service in which he has trust. They cost less, generate more revenue and will also bring in new potential customers because they will easily recommend the brand to their friends and family, by means of word-of-mouth or on social networks. This customer is a real ambassador for the brand, without the brand having to pay him. 71% of users who have had a good service experience with a brand on social networks are likely to recommend it to others.

Emotions and pragmatism, the levers of loyalty

Consumer emotions have a significant impact on brand loyalty. Brands that have succeeded in creating an emotional bond with their customers have seen their annual turnover increase by 5%. Loyalty also embodies a voluntary and assertive choice: the customer wants to show that his choices are "better" than others, that they have meaning and, sometimes, even commitment value. This is called social desirability. To a certain extent, our 'possessions' or the brands we take define us. The value we place on them is rooted in our desire to own them, and today we would even say to use them, or even to share them. The behaviours of the most loyal lead to particular relationships with the brand and between the consumers themselves. We can really talk about a feeling of belonging to a community.

An Adobe study has revealed that more than 40% of consumers want to maintain a relationship with a brand that adapts to their wishes and needs. Interaction with the brand seems to be important for 86% of the respondents. Brands need to be able to prove their loyalty by interacting with them and vice versa. It is no longer a transactional engagement but an emotional one. And this emotional bond is fed by recognition and interaction.

Pragmatic levers

The most powerful pragmatic lever is the notion of reward, in the broadest sense. More accurately, this means: prizes, promotions, benefits and other rewards. A study by Selligent Marketing Cloud reveals that the main reason for brand loyalty is price and pricing for 25% of respondents. The quality of customer service is also a very strong loyalty factor. 93% of consumers expect a response from customer service within 24 hours when they contact them. In an era where consumers can get anything, and in ever shorter timeframes, brands and their customer service are facing increasing customer demands.

The appeal of brands no longer lies solely in product differentiation combined with a "classic" approach to loyalty, but in their value proposition, their purpose, and how this is translated into coherent actions. Because with the Internet, the need for transparency demanded by Internet users has become increasingly pronounced, forcing brands to keep their commitments. False steps or attempts to make a deal with reality are quickly brought to the forefront, particularly via social networks, and can cause considerable damage to a brand's image, and therefore its attractiveness and customer loyalty. And this loyalty results from two levers, the pragmatic lever but also and above all the emotional lever made up of customer and user experiences.

But this listening and responsiveness of the customer service is not enough, the experience will be shaped by all the interactions that make it up, throughout the customer journey, before, during and after the purchase or use of a service/product. Thus, the user experience becomes pivotal and the stake for organisations is to coordinate it across all contact points. To achieve this, the customer must be considered throughout the organisation, in the image of these paths through the different channels/touchpoints of the brand. This is a subject of business transformation that the service designer must address.

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