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Putting Customers in the Driver's Seat: Customer Loyalty Trends for 2023 with Ravi Srinivasan, Group



Trends in Loyalty with Group FiO
Group FiO provides businesses with the tools they need to strengthen customer relationships and drive brand loyalty. By providing omnichannel experiences and bringing together data from all touchpoints along a customer’s journey, the technology company creates hyper-personalized experiences that keep consumers engaged and active.

Loyalty360 spoke with Ravi Srinivasan, President and CEO for Group FiO, about the top trends in customer loyalty for 2023, program relaunches, and how brands can differentiate themselves while building brand loyalty.

Trending Focus on Relaunching Loyalty
Group FiO works with B2B, B2C, and direct-to-consumer brands and specializes in increasing customer lifetime value by leveraging moments-in-time marketing. Moments-in-time marketing is a combination of delivering real-time communications pertinent to the consumer while they are still in the experience and setting up the next interaction pattern via data-driven personalization and offers. Combining the location variable with the activity variable gives brands the right mix to reach consumers in the moment, increasing customer lifetime value.

Loyalty360 recently released the results of its State of Customer Loyalty Report showcasing top trends in customer loyalty for 2023. One of the top trends was brands focused on relaunching their loyalty programs and/or adding functionality.

At Group FiO, they are seeing a similar trend with clients focused on changing their loyalty programs to focus on existing customers. Srinivasan explains that because 10% of the existing customers account for 3X the average customer, brands are wise to invest in that top tier of customers.

Another trend Srinivasan is seeing is brands that are focusing on cashback offers as opposed to coupons or discounts. He explains that the problem with coupons is they are a one-time marketing effort. Cash-back puts a tangible value to the reward that customers can see as a direct effect of their loyalty.

Thirdly, the team at Group FiO is noticing a focus on brands taking a Customer360 view with a focus on customer service. This 360-degree view allows brands to hyper-personalize communications that make the customer feel noticed and heard, and when a consumer receives an exceptional customer experience, it builds not only brand loyalty, but highly coveted emotional loyalty.

Differentiate Among the “Sea of Sameness”
Another trend uncovered in Loyalty360’s study was the “sea of sameness” within loyalty programs. Group FiO sees this a lot.

“Loyalty is everywhere,” says Srinivasan. “Today, loyalty is table stakes for a company. Everyone does it and everyone gives points and that becomes meaningless after a while.” 

One way to differentiate is through offering premier or paid loyalty programs that give customers increased value. Point portability is another great way to stand out. This option allows customers to spend their points outside of the brand, perhaps exchanging them for an experience or cashback offer.

Another way to stand out is to renew the focus on improving in-store and online communications. Many brands are missing the golden opportunity to educate their employees on the customer loyalty program. When the employees are on board, it is a simple and effective way to engage with both existing customers and gain new ones.

In many loyalty programs, a simple value is missing. Retailers are looking to change the sameness with key tactics to keep customers engaged long after the transaction. Brands can achieve this by sending more small-value gifts to their loyalty members instead of one big reward once a year. The customer begins to expect these small rewards which keeps the brand top of mind and builds loyalty.

Incorporate the Right Technology for Your Brand
There is a growing number of newer customer loyalty technologies that brands can use to build engagement. In the coming year, Group FiO predicts many brands will focus on geo-location, specifically with beacon technology to know a customer’s location. This simple technology allows for in-the-moment marketing to happen.

Some emerging technologies, such as NFTs and Blockchain, while trending in certain markets, just are not appropriate for wide use. Srinivasan sees Blockchain as more of a specialty item, whereas the interest in NFTs is waxing and waning.

While customer data platforms (CDP) are experiencing a resurgence, and many brands are implementing the technology, there is not much of a benefit unless they are collecting the appropriate data to take the right action with a clear goal in mind. However, when linking a CDP and integrating it with the supply chain, brands can offer hyper-personalized communications, which has been proven to build brand loyalty.

Srinivasan predicts that in 2023, marketers will see a broad range of education on how to analyze a loyalty program and the skillset for doing so. To effectively analyze data, marketers need to know:

  1. What are the metrics?
  2. Why are they there?
  3. How do you measure them?

Many marketers do not know how to combine business analytics and data analytics to hit a marketing or sales objective. The skillset is not there. Without the proper education, brands either measure the wrong data or infer information that may not be accurate.

How can brands address this challenge?

Says Srinivasan, “Step one: do the analysis. If you don’t have the team to do it, outsource the work. Step two: measure the results. Track it and ensure you get faster ROI.”

Put the Customer in the Driver’s Seat
What’s next in customer loyalty? One trend is putting the customer in the driver’s seat and giving them a choice of how they want to earn rewards and what rewards they want to earn. Engaging with the customer on a regular basis and providing hyper-personalized communications is key to collecting the right data to gain that 360-view. While too many messages are being sent in a general blast, it is crucial for brands to send messaging that is in tune with what the customer wants.

In addition, all shopping avenues, whether e-commerce, phone centers, or brick-and-mortar stores will do best to increase the focus on removing friction. Make it easier for customers to find items. While self-service kiosks and checkouts are becoming more popular, it is equally important to make those experiences fluent, self-explanatory, and, most importantly, frictionless.

No matter what trend a brand is looking to incorporate into its existing loyalty strategy, Srinivasan advises brands keep it minimal with no more than 5 key KPIs. Measuring those KPIs insistently week by week will give insight into how customers are responding. If the brand is not seeing consistent growth or improvement in the measurements, it may be a sign to switch tactics.

Says Srinivasan, “It sounds simple, but it’s really difficult to execute. And you need people with experience to help you do that. And if you are not able to execute consistently, get a fractional resource that can help with this kind of activity and keep things on track.”


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