The Connection Between CX and Customer Loyalty Programs

Seth Marlowe March 29, 2021
The Connection Between CX and Customer Loyalty Programs

This is an excerpt from the full article that first appeared on CustomerThink on March 25, 2021.

With social distancing limiting face-to-face interaction, and the transition to remote work and school, more people than ever are embracing purchasing and customer service online, especially in new categories such as grocery. For companies, this offers a chance to build customer loyalty, and with the right timing and tools, build relationships that deliver more net profit at less cost than traditional customer acquisition efforts.

Seize the opportunity from the beginning of the relationship

The best opportunity to influence customer behaviors is at the beginning of the relationship because habits, once formed, are hard to break. This is why many brands are highly focused on the experiences they deliver when onboarding, the overarching purpose being to cultivate their actions from the outset.

Onboarding, of course, goes far beyond the initial welcome. Smart organizations carefully execute the first 30-60 days of the relationship educating and inspiring customers to adopt the types of behaviors that will lead to a mutually beneficial relationship. If, for example, a customer is accustomed to making payments via phone, it’s going to be difficult to convert them to the new app your company invested in. The streamlined processes, expanded marketing potential, targeted sales gains – all that was hoped for would be lost.

Thus, as an example, a goal might simply be to get the customer to download the mobile app, followed by an action for them to make a first payment using it. When they get it right, the result can be remarkable advances in digital adoption, spend, loyalty and advocacy. Perhaps from there the next-best action is introducing customers to the loyalty program – detailing the “why” and value for the customer in a relevant way. Getting buy-in at the right time with powerful messages can translate into years of customer support.

That’s why, especially in this increasingly remote age, we’re seeing brands enlisting video to seize opportunity, close engagement gaps and cement relationships.

Communicate with empathy and emotional intelligence

Over the past few years, video has become a critical tool for brands to drive a differentiated CX and for good reason. It’s easy to digest, entertaining and engaging. It brings to life, and simplifies, messages that are often complex and confusing. It’s widely accessible via the internet and on personal mobile devices. It uses both verbal and visual communication to tell a story like no other medium.

Personalized digital experiences continue to be a top priority for marketers. Once customers are bought into a loyalty program, this data can be used to deliver contextually relevant promotions. With a personalized email linked to a video experience (VX), for instance, a company can reinforce the value and benefits of the loyalty program for members in an easily digestible, uniquely relatable and entertaining way.

When it comes to getting personal, you need to communicate with empathy and emotional intelligence – and that means listening to customers and getting creative to build loyalty. 

Still, the last thing a brand wants to do is come across as insensitive. For instance, right now you don’t want to be the retailer or provider suggesting new card members take advantage of loyalty benefits tied to immediate travel. Special attention should be paid to keep this from happening and here’s a good example of how that can be done.

United Airlines was only weeks away from kicking off a new digital VX for its loyalty members when the pandemic started. Previously, they might have encouraged them to strive for Gold Status within 30 days, perhaps showcase their airport lounges with video of in-person interactions. This wouldn’t have gone over well whereas most people are wondering if flying is even safe and what it would entail.

United Airlines customer loyalty program video
Click to view United Airlines’ video experiences for its customer loyalty programs.

The airline quickly pivoted, using their VX platform to create personalized video content showing what loyalty members could expect when flying, what safety measures the airline had taken, advice on how to prepare for a trip and more. By adjusting their scenes and messages accordingly, they answered what travelers wanted to know most of all, creating video that elevated their reputation as a business that cares.

While CX and loyalty have always been intrinsically linked, today it’s more apparent than ever. With the right messages, timing and tools – delivered in a highly engaging way – the connection can be made even stronger, enabling companies to forge bonds that deliver the most profitable types of relationships for the long term.