May 24, 2018 CPG, Customer Data & Analytics, Customer View, Financial Institutions, Omni-channel | Digital, Personalization, Retail, Telco, Travel & Hospitality

Consumer Loyalty Requires You to Listen

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Take a moment to think about your most fulfilling relationship. Now, think about the qualities that make that relationship successful. I’m willing to bet that one of the qualities that makes that relationship so successful is each person’s willingness to listen. In this relationship-era where brands are looking to build authentic and long-lasting connections with consumers, it is imperative that they first… listen.

GATHER THEIR AUTHENTIC VOICE:

The first step to winning a consumer’s loyalty is to gather their authentic voice across multiple touch points. The key word is authentic. A customer’s authentic voice can be defined as how they genuinely feel about your brand, even when you’re not in the room. There are multiple ways that you can execute this collection of voices. Here are a few ways Aimia supports using our strategy toolkit:

Surveys – Surveys are a simple and quick way to get feedback. They allow you to reach a larger sample size, and can be used as an opportunity to hear from your current customers or even potential customers by leveraging a consumer panel. At Aimia, we use surveys to determine the change in behavior clients can expect to see from current and potential members if certain program elements were implemented or changed.

Focus groups – Focus groups bring your consumers into the room and allow you to have a conversation face to face. This qualitative approach allows the company to dig deep into how their consumers truly feel, and are perfect for testing program branding elements, value propositions, and the overall mechanics of a program construct.

Social listening – Social media allows you to hear what your customers are saying about you when you’re not in the room. Your online perception is a powerful tool as it can draw in or scare off potential customers. Consumers tend to let out their full emotions on social media with no filter.

ANALYZE THEIR FEEDBACK:

Now that you have the results back from your focus group or eased into the social media realm to see what was being said about you unfiltered…. what’s next? You must discover the gaps. What do consumers want that you do not currently provide?

As strategists, it is our job to discover the underlying theme of consumer feedback and tell that story to clients in a way that inspires action.

DO NOT IGNORE THEM:

Whatever you do, once you know the gaps, please don’t ignore them. Instagram successfully ignored its users for a while, as an army of frustrated users (myself included) rallied on social media to get our timelines back in chronological order. Since then, Instagram has made steps towards putting newer post at the top of users’ newsfeeds, however it has not gone back to a fully chronological feed.

Facebook learned its lesson and is taking steps to kill the monster it created. The company announced it will focus on curating a timeline that has more posts from our family and friends instead of annoying ads. Thank you for listening, Facebook.

ADJUST AND BUILD BETTER RELATIONSHIPS:

Now that you’ve realized the gaps and listened to your consumer, it’s time to implement the change. (i.e. use the gap analysis to build a better customer experience). Consumers will value the fact that you listened to them, and in return, become more loyal to you. Even if what your customers are saying isn’t exactly what you wanted to hear, that’s okay! Still let them know you reflected on their feedback and will take steps to figure out a solution in the future. Your consumers will respect your honesty and appreciate your effort.

BALANCE THE NEEDS OF THE CONSUMER AND THE BUSINESS

Let’s be honest, what the consumer wants isn’t always good for your business or your bottom line. So how does one find the balance? This is a challenge that we should never shy away from tackling. There is a way to authentically grow the loyalty of your customers while hitting your KPIs. At Aimia, we develop scenario-based economic models to test how loyalty programs will perform against KPIs. Building economic models allows us to run different business case scenarios to determine which business case incorporates the program components members want to see while driving the most profit.

IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY

If you’re reading this article and feel some sort of conviction, then great! You are like me and countless other strategists. We have the unwavering responsibility to be the voice of the consumer. In our brainstorm sessions, client meetings, and even social media, we must stand up and make sure companies are listening to what their consumers want. Are consumers always right? Of course not. But should we at least listen to their concerns and balance them against business objectives? Yes, all the time.

For more information, please email loyalty@aimia.com.

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