Loyalty is hard-earned
While we’re thankfully no longer hunting down and stockpiling toilet paper, bags of rice and anything else appearing to run low on shelves, the impacts of COVID-19 on consumer shopping are still hitting brands hard. Amidst the pandemic, 75% of consumers report trying new brands, exploring new places to shop, as well as seeking new methods of shopping. All of the above pose a threat to the coveted consumer loyalty both brands and businesses have worked so hard to create.
While product availability is the most frequent problem consumers are facing, it’s not what brands need to be most worried about when it comes to keeping folks loyal. Instead of being worried about how other competitors may be catching loyal customers’ eyes, brands need to be focused on themselves – and how to be their very best in every way. Brands need to be laser focused on how to foster and build loyalty and in turn neutralize issues that can undermine it. Such proactivity allows marketers to not only hold onto loyal customers but actually strengthen ties with their enthusiasts and advocates as well. Here are three quick key reminders for fostering customer loyalty during the pandemic:
- Digital First
eCommerce has made a huge jump with a 31.8% increase from Q1 to Q2 this year, with Q2 sales of $211.5B demonstrating a 44.5% YOY increase. With that kind of cash at stake, retailers can’t afford to let their digital channels slide. Brands’ digital presence and experience need to be buttoned up and dialed in. Loyal customers will quickly abandon brands whose website or app isn’t seamless and simple to navigate and transact. Also, customers may not feel comfortable entering brick-and-mortar locations, especially if it doesn’t feel like an “essential” stop on their scaled back list of errands. As a result, brands need to make sure their products can be acquired online with ease and efficiency – or folks will look elsewhere as quick as they can swipe a thumb across their phone.
- Point of No-Return
Customers are switching brands in a heartbeat based on return policies and processes. Consumers expect to be able to return a product if it doesn’t suit their fancy or meet their expectations in any way shape or form, with ease and grace – not to mention contactless shipping and drop off. In today’s Covid-19 climate, brands who can’t provide stellar customer service and flawless return experiences run the risk of losing a customer for life. Returns are a one stop shop for brands to pressure test that their logistics are operating at best-in-class levels.
- Show Me the Love
There is some good news, though. Consumers want to support brands they care about – brands they feel make a difference and align with their core values. In fact, customers are actually looking for brands to shine a light on – brands who are navigating this chaotic world we’re all in at the moment with heart and benevolence. Also remember, everyone wants to be wanted, so now is the perfect time to review your loyalty program and show your customers how much they’re loved. In addition, now is the time to think about what you’re doing to increase frequency and drive cross-sell opportunities. Where are places you can surprise and delight your customers through simple things like birthdays and holidays? Buttoning up your loyalty program now is a way to stay top of mind with your loyal brand advocates moving forward.
Retailers who can strengthen and solidify their customer relations and digital presence now will reap the precious benefits during the fast-approaching holiday shopping season. Brands need to find partners to help them take quick steps to ensure their brands are doing all they can to dial in their digital presence and ignite customers’ loyalty. Brands can’t afford to work with an agency that requires a 6-8 week planning process. Instead, they need an efficient, nimble partner to help implement smart, go-to-market strategies that ready the brand for this unique moment in time.
Unbound has an arsenal of strategists who can work with you to not only build and evaluate your loyalty program, but we can serve as objective consultants to help evaluate what experiences may be undermining your customer loyalty. Our experience in retail coupled with our understanding of digital best practices and customer experience expectations could be the difference maker as your brand fights to stay top of mind and desired through this unprecedented time.