How brands can cultivate loyalty in a click and switch economy

As GM and Sales Leader at Oracle Netsuite, JAPAC, Graeme Burt knows a thing or two about customer loyalty. Burt sat down with KBB to deliver his top tips for engaging and keeping customers.

“What is the best long-term investment that a brand can make? While investments in product quality or market reach can bring about immediate improvements, customer loyalty remains key to the long-lasting success and growth for a majority of businesses.” says Burt.

According to Burt, brands that command customer loyalty can boost potential revenue by up to 90 per cent, or generate 50 per cent more sales than competitors with less loyal customers.

“These statistics prove that in this age of rapid e-consumerism, loyal customers are – and always will be – the differentiating factor between successful brands and dominant ones. For years, businesses have depended on customer loyalty programs to build these relationships. Yet mismatched customer expectations and lethargy have eroded their effects, especially with millennials. Today’s consumers are more likely than ever before to switch brands with a single click – so how can brands cultivate the loyalty they need to endure?”

Here are Burt’s top 3 top tips

Do your rewards live up to expectations?

Unsurprisingly, brands with the most loyal customers are those which provide something relatable – and desirable to their customers. If brands can identify what motivates their customers to buy, whether it be a reliable delivery experience, a high-touch customer service or consistently competitive pricing, they can consistently meet that need through their products, the customer experience, and even their loyalty programs.

That, however, requires them to first understand their customers’ preferences and behaviour through the data at their disposal. Rather than resorting to safe generic offers, brands can better understand their customers by investing in analysing their existing data. By transitioning operations onto business management systems that have business intelligence capabilities, brands can collect and process crucial customer information – like spending habits, favourite products or repeat purchases – across all their outlets.

Having these data insights at hand allows brands to craft promotion or discount strategies that are relevant to individual customers, or they can surprise loyal shoppers with special offers of their favourite products during special occasions. It may even help them deliver tailored or personalised offers that are directly related to the customer’s past engagements with the brand. But these personal experiences are not just a better way to build customer retention, they offer a more informed and data-centric way of acquiring customers who will stick with the brand for the longer term.

How can you increase loyalty?

While offering bespoke products or rewards is an excellent way to grow loyalty in this age of personalisation, such efforts often add an extra layer of complexity onto a brand’s operations. This is especially apparent for retail businesses that are rapidly scaling and constantly monitor ever-growing levels of inventory, coordinate product distribution to multiple new outlets or track streams of transactional data across their systems.

Reportedly over 71 percent of customers turn away from a brand due to unsatisfactory customer service, and that isn’t reserved to regular transactions only – it could apply to bad experiences with loyalty programs as well. Pushing a customer through multiple stages in a transaction to make a purchase, or engage with loyalty programs could generate significant frustration. If they find the product out of stock, or their account information unavailable, that friction could potentially rise to untenable levels. This does not just reflect badly on a brand, it may also be the push a customer needed to switch to a more stable and dependable competitor instead.

It is therefore crucial for brands to invest in business management systems that are able to scale with their growth and continuously provide visibility and control over rapidly expanding operations. More importantly, these systems must also allow staff to access customer data seamlessly, and retrieve information on reward and loyalty entitlements with as little effort as possible, as and when needed.

Can good service guarantee loyalty?  

At the end of the day, customer loyalty comes from the depth of relationship that brands are prepared to invest in. This should involve meeting customers’ needs, and doing so with a level of service that goes above and beyond their expectations. But to make this happen, brands will need to make sure their customer service and loyalty programs run in parallel – and not in isolation – from the rest of their operations. Leveraging ERP platforms with full CRM capabilities, allow brands to integrate the purchasing, payment and rewarding process on one fully visible and trackable ecosystem.

This can prevent hiccups in customer service and reduce – if not outright eliminate – customer frustrations, such as ‘out of stock’ scenarios when it comes to claiming loyalty rewards. And when customers are happy, they reward brands with their dedication, and become brand evangelists that bring in more customers, and in turn, more revenue – for years to come.

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Graeme Burt
Graeme Burt is GM and Sales Leader, responsible for the direct sales business across the region. In this role, Graeme is responsible to drive increased value for NetSuite prospects and customers, build a presence in new markets and strengthen its existing sales teams. Graeme's most recent role was GM, Growth and Emerging Business, Asia Pacific and Japan. Graeme joined NetSuite in 2015, after a stint as country manager at BMC Software. Graeme's past experience includes director of commercial sales for the northern region at Salesforce.com and senior sales director at Oracle

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