BRAND MATTERS: Customer loyalty programmes and its benefits
Customer loyalty is
one major thing that brands need to thrive in the market place. When
customers are loyal to a brand, they become ambassadors by mouthing
good stories about the brand. It is a basic truth that when customers
are happy, they go to a large extent to promote a good image for the
brand. Customer loyalty is all about relevance and meaning throughout
every customer touch point. It is all about making the brand experience
more intimate relationship with the customers.
However, one thing
I have observed is that our brands are not really embarking on
initiatives that will build loyalty amongst the customers. Customer
loyalty programme is achieved through free offers, discount prices,
generous commissions, cash awards etc. When concrete efforts are made
to promote customer loyalty, it translates to profitability for the
brand in the long run. This is because a satisfied customer will always
make repeat purchases and also persuade others to patronize the product
programme is one that companies use to build brand loyalty, retain
their valuable customers and increase sales. A comprehensive database
of customers is very key to the overall success of a customer loyalty
programme. The database is not intended to be used to announce sales
promo but one that take cognizance of the customers consistent purchase
habit. Through this, some key loyal customers are identified for a
reward scheme that will sustain their interest in the brand.
satisfaction surveys are also important to determine the level of
loyalty and commitment of customers to a brand. This is a viable avenue
to gauge customers’ perception and develop strategies to generate
loyalty can take its root firmly, companies need to communicate the
whole brand essence to the internal audience. It is important because
getting loyalty from the external customers without focus on the
internal customers is a colossal waste of time. When the employees who
interface with customers do not live up to expectations, there is no
way customer loyalty can take place.
I wonder how many
of our customer care personnel know their customers by name and attempt
to key into their lifestyle to offer quality service. Consistent
excellent customer service has a crucial role to play in building
customer retention and loyalty.
I think Zain (now
Airtel) started this last year when subscribers accumulated points to
collect several branded prizes. The scope and structure of the then
Zain reward scheme was excellent as it was a direct and open scheme.
When I migrated to Zain step-up, I won a Zain phone apart from the
points I used to win other prizes. I became an instant advocate of the
network and quite a lot of my friends believed more in the network as
caring and making the subscribers happy.
Companies can only
build loyalty by maintaining constant touch with customers and making
them feel important to the brands’ existence. Customers need to be
rewarded for choosing a particular brand over competitors. There are
enormous gains to be derived from a good customer loyalty programme. A
loyal customer will always make repeated purchases because he is
already satisfied with the quality of service.
Through the loyalty
programme, there is a greater tendency of increased volume for the
brand. This is because customers may decide to buy greater volumes of a
brand. Customer loyalty programme creates a good relationship and
builds affinity with the customers. Most customers through the
programme maintain steady relationship with the business. When
customers establish strong brand loyalty, it gives the brand immunity
from competitive forces. A loyal customer will use all resources at his
disposal to protect the brand image and defend it because of trust and
reliability that has been developed over time.
The place of word
of mouth marketing should not be underestimated. This is because loyal
customers always bring in new customers. Word of mouth is a very potent
tool of marketing. I remember I once demonstrated this for GTBank when
a fellow customer had a complaint. The way I promoted the bank and its
customer centric nature assuaged the feelings of the man. What
happened? He had a change of mind. I only demonstrated what I had
experienced and all he needed to do was to believe the words of an
ordinary customer like himself.
It is indeed a good strategy to retain customers with less money
than looking for others which cost more on the long run. It is
essential for companies to build strong affinity with customers and
build loyalty programmes that sustain customer loyalty and interest in
their brands. The values attached are enormous and it is a worthwhile
investment to retain customers than to lose them.