We recently had a call with a client. We have been designing and developing a loyalty marketing program for them. One thing they said completely floored us. This was in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this client’s business has been shut down for almost two months. All of our marketing projects are on hold indefinitely. This call was to touch base about a couple of loose ends and to see how they were doing during these challenging times. Nothing to sell.
By Jay Weinberg
The client noted that they really appreciate our dedication, the fact that we continue to think about them and their business, periodically provide relevant articles and ideas via email, and even our patience as they work through past-due invoices. Then he said, “You should know that the people who treat us well during this time are those who will be working with us when all of this is over.” That statement really hit home. Loyalty is not just our business, but the essence of our culture. To receive this kind of validation that we practice what we preach was very much appreciated.
“Loyalty is a two-way street.”
We have always maintained that loyalty is a two-way street. If you want loyalty, be loyal. Treat your customers well and show them you care. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Make the first move when it comes to creating a strong relationship. Better yet, make the first two moves! Your customers have shown their loyalty, and now it’s your turn. As we move from lockdown to carefully phased reopening, plan to take care of the customers who gave you the profits you needed to weather this storm.
While every type of business is unique, you should have answers to these questions:
- How can we ensure we are prioritizing our best customers when we have limited capacity, selection, and inventory?
- What can we do to help our loyal customers during a period of financial setback?
Here are a few tips to help you address your loyalty strategy for reopening and beyond:
Give them the scoop
Make sure your loyal customers are first to get news about your plans. Let them know you are thinking about them. This is a subtle gesture, but it goes a long way. Tell them directly about your plans for reopening and any new conditions or rules. Show that you understand and acknowledge people with varying viewpoints about social distancing, wearing protecting coverings, and other things that may affect their shopping choices.
Adjust your contact frequency
Modify your communications frequency, such as email and direct mail. It will likely be less frequent, as their demand is high, but their buying patterns have changed. Many people will be consolidating their trips for the near future.
Watch your tone
Take a more personal approach in tone and manner. Don’t be aggressive with copy or headlines. Rather, approach your audience with kindness and a caring attitude. This has been a difficult period for everyone. Most people are either concerned financially or overworked. They will respond better to a less promotional, more emotional, tone and manner.
Invite feedback and actually listen! Be sure you have a feedback loop in place. Survey customers and respond to what you hear and learn. Voice of customer is even more important during more difficult business climates.
Prioritize best customers
Integrate prioritization tactics for your loyalty customers, such as dedicated hours of operation, separate/priority lines (on ground, phone, chat, etc.), and expedited shipping. Make sure they have first choice for inventory replenishment and backlogs.
Adjust your rewards program
If you have a formal rewards program, be sure you extend terms for reward expiration, point expiration, status and tier qualifications. Your customers are concerned that they will miss out on earning valuable benefits from higher tier status. Assure them you are taking care of them.
In summary, plan to protect the people who have been protecting you. Show them you care when they need it most and you will earn their trust, which is the best loyalty of all.
Jay Weinberg is a Principal with Ascendant Loyalty and has been building loyalty and trust-based engagement programs for enterprise-level organizations for more than 15 years.
Photo by Erik Heddema on Unsplash.