All professionals specialising in customer relationships are aware of the importance of loyalty in the strategic running of business. As a result, Marketing teams spend much time and efforts working to develop tools that establish and enable loyalty interactions.
Among these, Loyalty Programs are arguably the most frequently implemented method used by brands to encourage repeat sales and customer support. Essentially designed to reward clients for choosing particular products or services over the competition, Loyalty Programs do often generate purely economic or extrinsic benefits.
By focusing on an extrinsic reward based system, the subsequent feelings that arise are also extrinsic- giving way to a predominantly transactional relationship between customers and brands. Customer’s recognise the motivational goals set within the program aren’t their own, and so little genuine interest or attachment to the brand is sustained between one purchase and the next.
However this type of customer-brand relationships are changing. Nowadays, customers are much more informed when it comes to making a new purchase, more swayed by recommendations or influencers across media channels, and technology plays a more pivotal role in the communication and interaction between brands and customers. Technology is itself creating a “new client”.
This “new client” and its dynamics can often provide an interesting but uncertain outlook when building meaningful connections with clients. Technology has the power to either strengthen or dilute communications; meaning and tone can be misinterpreted in an email, genuineness can be lost in the noise. The influence of emerging technologies will create the axis on which customer relationships will balance, and something all companies and their internal structures will need to adhere to.
As a result, in the short term, organisations will have a much more delicate challenge in their interactions with customers. A one way, transactional relationship with brand-centric motivators will not suffice when the client has endless information and possibilities available to them at the touch of a button. Customers will come to demand and expect more, in terms of product, service, price and social quality.
Technology and emotional or intrinsic drivers, together with tailored communications will be the key ingredients to supporting the “new client” as we move towards the future.