long term customer loyalty

5 Things To Focus On To Drive Long-Term Customer Loyalty

When thinking about customer loyalty strategies for the future, you have to keep in mind that the strategy is never finished and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. 

Do you know that a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit and that returning customers spend 67% more than new ones?

by Will Schneider

Yes, loyal customers spend more, refer more people, and bring in more profit to your business. This is why every company needs to have a top-notch customer loyalty strategy — in accordance with the market situation and new trends.

The pandemic changed the business environment and accelerated digital transformation. McKinsey Global Survey confirms that the COVID-19 crisis is the cause of the fast shift toward interacting with customers through digital channels. 

The survey says at least 80 percent of post-pandemic customer interactions are digital, and you have to adapt all your operations, as well as your loyalty marketing, to work in the new environment.

Keep reading and discover how you can keep your customers happy in the years to come.

The future of customer loyalty: 5 most important things to focus on 

Companies whose leaders will think ahead could gain a competitive advantage over those who will stick with old methods. The future is always uncertain — but with the right business mindset, you can meet the demands of the changing market and your customers.

1.   Adopt new technologies: CRM, digital wallets, AI…

Digital transformation changed the way we do business in many ways. Embracing this change in creating customer loyalty strategies can help you to meet your customer expectations better. Here are some of the top new technologies you can use to delight your customers.

CRM software

CRM software is developed with one single mission: to gather customer data so companies can improve customer experience and satisfaction. 

CRM stands for “customer relationship management”, and the main advantage of implementing CRM software in your business is that you can use data for:

  • boosting your sales
  • improving your customer service
  • creating targeted and efficient marketing campaigns
  • and ultimately, build a better relationship with your customers.

CRM software can automate your customer service and provide customer details which you can use to boost the customer experience of existing customers and attract new ones. 

Artificial Intelligence

Customers are more and more inclined toward automated customer service. That means companies need to invest in emerging new technology like chatbots and digital assistants. 

A survey conducted by TELUS International says that the majority of 2,000 consumers surveyed in the US  (65%) expect at least part of their customer journey to be automated. 

Younger generation respondents are pleased with the real-time help powered by AI. 

They say automation is very important to their impression of the brand. In numbers that means that 72% of Millenials are more likely to repeat the purchase if the brand is using AI, and 71% will recommend the brand if they use AI to improve their customer experience.

According to PwC.com Bot.Me study that was conducted among 2,500 US consumers, 64% said they would rather have instant access to quality AI-driven customer service than preserve the jobs of customer service reps.

Digital wallets

Digital wallets can also be used to boost your customer loyalty. There are many providers of this service so you should see what kind of incentives they could offer to your customers. 

Choose an app that can provide coupons, discounts, reward programs, and which offers loyalty programs.

2.   Be innovative and adaptable with your loyalty program

Unlike 20 or 30 years ago, the consumers of today are present on many dynamic and ever-changing digital platforms. 

On the other hand, classic loyalty programs are static and not a good fit for today’s consumers. McKinseyreports that companies need to develop flexible strategies “built around a fluid partnership of products, services, and experiences”.

This means that loyalty programs need to be highly personalized and they need to offer some kind of emotional satisfaction besides monetary. Also, they need to be flexible and agile to be able to offer incentives on changing platforms.

According to the Antavo Global Customer Loyalty Report, these are the incentives today’s consumers want:

  • personalized rewards or offers like “happy birthday” cards, gifts, and other personalized emails and offers 
  • rewards for engagement (like reviews), not just for purchases
  • experiential rewards, such as VIP events for members only 
  • instant rewards will be appreciated by the younger generations (as opposed to classic loyalty programs where in most cases you have to collect some amount of points in a period of time to get a reward in the future)
Customer loyalty demands
Image source: McKinsey, Note: Based on a survey of more than 9000 consumers

3.   Provide free shipping, fast delivery, and easy returns

As mentioned, more than 80 percent of post-pandemic customer interactions are digital. Transitioning to online shopping from brick-and-mortar stores is here to stay since 88 percent of people say that they will continue to shop online.

The main reason why is — convenience. Buyers saw that online shopping has serious advantages over shopping in physical stores. But, if you want your customers to keep buying from you, you have to provide a great shopping experience.

That means your shipping and returns have to be easy, fast, and — free.

According to The State of Shipping Report, 2022 by X Delivery, quick or even same-day delivery is in demand. Here are some stats:

  • 28% of consumers did not make a purchase due to shipping costs combined with a slow delivery
  • 26% of consumers have abandoned the purchase because they needed faster delivery than the company offered
  • 17% stopped shopping from brands that had slow deliveries

If keeping a top-notch order fulfillment seems overwhelming, you should think about outsourcing it and creating a partnership with a 3PL warehouse company

Even if you think you can handle everything in-house, sometimes it’s better to outsource specific parts of your business to the experts, and focus on other aspects of your business.

4.   Excellent (and fast) customer service should be your priority

Customer service is very important if you want loyal customers who will even be your brand ambassadors if you delight them.

We mentioned that younger generations want automated and fast customer service, but you have to think about all customers, in all stages of their sales funnel. Also, your customers expect you to be available through multiple channels and that you are there if they encounter any problem with your product.

You can’t have too many channels of communication, and these are essential: email, social media channels, live chat or chatbot, phone, and messaging apps like Facebook messenger.

Here are some of the important customer service stats to know:

  • 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as essential or very important when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less (HubSpot Research)
  • 90% of consumers regard resolution as their most important customer service issue (KPMG)
  • 72% of customers will refer to six or more people if they have a great customer experience. (Esteban Kolsky)

Customer loyalty - impatience
Image source: HubSpot

All in all, customer service is a crucial part of your business and if you find a way to excel in it, it can lead to increased sales and business growth

5.   Think about younger generations 

Business executives need to accept that the new generation is growing up in completely different surroundings than customers born before the 80s. New generations are living in the world of limitless opportunities, but this hyper-con­nect­ed world also creates anxiety, stress, and depression

Besides that, they are witnessing social disruptions, rising inequalities, and climate change. With all that, they are ready to do something for a better future. 

According to the BBMG report, Gen Z is three times more likely to say that the purpose of business is to “serve communities and society” rather than simply “make good products and services”. Also, they want brands to make a difference by “using their voice to advocate or speak out” on the most pressing issues of our times.

If you want to win over these new generations, you have to show that, as a brand, you are ready to hear their voice. 

You have to show that you are ready to make a change, support marginalized groups, and be accountable for the challenges society is facing.

Patagonia and their founder Yvon Chouinard showed they are serious about the values they promote — protecting nature and biodiversity and fighting the climate crisis — when they recently gave up ownership of Patagonia

You don’t have to give away your company, but:

  • be brave
  • be welcoming
  • and fuel positive change in society. 

Your customers will know how to appreciate it.

Key takeaways

When thinking about customer loyalty strategies for the future, you have to keep in mind that the strategy is never finished and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. 

There are a number of things you can do to delight your customers, besides the things we mentioned. 

Brands can use mobile apps which can create a customer loyalty program, set up referral programs, or embrace blockchain technology for easy payments. Retailers can invest in virtual fitting rooms and so on.

So the first step is to get to know your customers and their needs. Use all available data and create incentives that will drive their loyalty to your brand.

Technology keeps evolving so you should always be on the lookout for new trends and be prepared to shift your customer loyalty strategy. Be agile and forward-thinking, and success is guaranteed.


Will Schneider is the founder of InsightQuote, a match-making service for B2B services, and writes informative posts about fulfillment services at Warehousing And Fulfillment. He is passionate about helping businesses find the right solutions to improve their operations. When not working, Will enjoys coaching youth basketball.

Photo by Jack Woodward on Unsplash

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