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Customer Loyalty

The Six Pillars of Customer Loyalty Excellence

Written by 
Brad Davis
November 16, 2020

A few years ago, David Conway and his colleagues at the KPMG Customer Excellence Centre penned the Six Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence.

Having done extensive research into what key attributes form an outstanding customer experience, the think tank determined these six elements:

1. Personalisation

2. Time & Effort

3. Expectations

4. Integrity

5. Resolution

6. Empathy

As customer retention specialists, Stamp Me Loyalty Solutions has considered these six pillars of customer experience excellence from a loyalty standpoint. After all, a positive brand experience is what brings customers back time and time again, right?

This is truer now than ever before. A few years ago, experience management firm Walker accurately predicted that customer experience would overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the end of 2020. As it turns out, 86% of consumers are prepared to pay more for an exceptional customer experience.So, how does customer loyalty tie in with the six pillars of customer experience excellence?

1. Personalisation

customer experience personalisation

It’s no secret that personalisation is the key to fostering an emotional connection between customers and your brand. By tailoring an individual’s experience to cater for their unique needs, you can make each customer feel valued and appreciated by your business.

But in order to pull this off, you need customer data –the more you have, the more personalised the customer’s experience becomes. And when it comes to attaining customer data, no resource is more effective than a digital loyalty program.

From basic information like names and email addresses, to the nitty gritty details like previous purchases, brand preferences and other key shopping habits; a digital loyalty program unlocks a wealth of useful customer data.

This data can be used to enhance each customer’s unique experience with your brand, and refine it over time.

According to Epsilon, 80% of shoppers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences. Perhaps even more interestingly; 85% of consumers want to be able to personalise their own customer experience by choosing their own perks, benefits and rewards (2020 Loyalty Barometer Report).

There’s no limit to how you can utilise personalisation in marketing.

2. Time & Effort

As Millennials and Gen Z take over a growing portion of global spending power, instant gratification becomes increasingly important to the customer experience. Consumers must be able to achieve their goals with ease, and in a very short timeframe.

A well-structured digital loyalty app can expedite the process of browsing products, making purchases, accruing points and redeeming rewards simultaneously. From mobile check-in to in-app payments for skip-the-queue benefits, and email receipts for added convenience, the possibilities are endless.

3. Expectations

Meeting a customer’s expectations does not qualify as customer experience excellence… you must exceed their expectations!

Thankfully, the aforementioned personalisation techniques will largely take care of this for you. By knowing what your customers like and tailoring their experience to cater for these preferences, you are already well on your way to exceeding their expectations.

Another effective approach is to “surprise and delight” with spontaneous rewards and unexpected perks to brighten the customer’s day. Many businesses will build incremental rewards into their loyalty programs – rewards which the customers are unaware of, so that when they reach these milestones, the reward seems random and spontaneous.

4. Integrity

CSR customer experience

Now more than ever, consumers place high importance on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). More than 80% of Millennials expect the brands they shop with to show good corporate citizenship, and two-thirds are prepared to pay more to support businesses that do so.

In order to provide customers with an excellent customer experience (and thus retain them), businesses must go above and beyond to demonstrate how they are giving back to the community.

A rewards program offers a simple and convenient way in which to incorporate CSR into the very fabric of your brand’s identity.

As an example, many businesses (like MAC Cosmetics) reward customers with bonus loyalty points for returning the packaging from previously purchased products, or allow customers to donate the monetary equivalent of their loyalty points to a charity of their choosing.

By providing customers with a way to do some good themselves, you enhance the customer experience exponentially.

5. Resolution

We all make mistakes – it’s part of life! Customer service excellence is not about preventing any issues from ever occurring… that is simply unrealistic. However, what you can do is put systems in place that ensure poor customer experiences are converted into positive customer experiences.

Generally speaking, most consumers are quite understanding and forgiving of an issue, when it is addressed and resolved efficiently.

This is especially true of your loyal customer base. Having built up a rapport with your brand, repeat customers are far more likely to take the odd mishap and occasional slip-up in their stride, when compared to a first-time customer.

In fact, loyalty program members are the ideal “taste tester” for new products, services or marketing campaigns your business might be trialling. By getting your VIP customers involved in the decision-making process, you gain access to direct and honest feedback, while building trust and strengthening loyalty at the same time.

6. Empathy

As Mr Conway pointed out in his Six Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence; a customer who is speaking to their bank’s support team about their lost credit card doesn’t want sympathy… they want peace of mind that the card is blocked and their account is secure.Good customer experience management means putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, and providing a solution that resolves their predicament.

Empathy is a fast-track to customer loyalty – if you handle a customer’s dilemma in a way that offers the distressed customer reassurance, their loyalty will be cemented. In fact, they will probably even become brand advocates, which is the Holy Grail of customer loyalty.A decent digital loyalty platform provides customers with numerous touchpoints and support; from chatbots and enquiry forms, to social media messaging and 24/7 hotlines.

It also provides the business with an easy means to show empathy through bonus loyalty points and spontaneous rewards, where appropriate!

IKEA enjoys pride of place at the pinnacle of customer experience excellence

If you are looking for inspiration in regards to providing a seamless customer experience online, in-person, via mobile app and various other channels; look no further than IKEA.

Considering IKEA operates over 400 stores in more than 50 markets around the world, it is nothing short of remarkable that the Swedish homewares titan maintains a consistent customer experience across every shop.

Whether you visit an IKEA in Stockholm, China or New Zealand, you will get the exact same customer experience.

And now, IKEA has taken its trademark consistency a step further with home delivery services and an IKEA mobile rewards app, both of which maintain a uniform ecommerce experience across all platforms.

IKEA might be at the forefront of omnichannel innovation, but a 2020 PwC report indicates that the number of companies investing in omnichannel has skyrocketed from 20% to over 80%.

What’s the bottom line?

At Stamp Me Loyalty Solutions, we wholeheartedly believe in KPMG’s Six Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence. We also believe that a well-structured digital loyalty program is the optimal tool for achieving them.

The best way to keep customers engaged is to provide them with an exceptional customer experience that sees them coming back again and again.

With an innovative rewards platform, you can ensure your business is leveraging the six pillars of customer experience excellence at all times; constantly working to improve your business’s customer retention and brand loyalty.

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