Customer loyalty can be hard for brands to build today. It’s not just because of competitors ‘stealing’ business. It also has to do with the ever-changing business landscape.
Once-loyal customers have changed stores, brands, and the way they buy since the start of the pandemic, according to a McKinsey U.S. consumer sentiment survey.
In 2020, consumers have mostly chosen value and convenience over brand loyalty.
As a result, countless companies across industries have struggled to some degree in the COVID climate, particularly with how to earn and maintain repeat customers.
But the companies that have been the most resilient (and successful) are the ones that maintained a ceaseless focus on customer experience (CX) management.
That is, they had the proper organizational and technological foundation to continuously deliver bespoke experiences and, in turn, build stronger customer relationships.
One company’s CX approach will certainly look different from others — even those with similar business models. But there are must-have elements of modern CX strategies every consumer-centric business needs to build customer loyalty and preserve it in the long run.
The single customer view’s role in increasing customer loyalty, explained
Customers expect a highly relevant experience every time they interact with a company — especially if they’ve ‘opted in’ and agreed to share their data with them.
Delivering this end-to-end experience involves many functions and teams across the business, including marketing, commerce, analytics, and customer support.
But these teams are often saddled by a limited view of their customer base.
That’s because the tools they use (e.g. email systems, campaign management platforms, ad platforms, ecommerce platforms, POS, CRM, etc.) are siloed by department and only store data and recognize customers and prospects in ways that are unique to each system.
In other words, marketing and the aforementioned teams don’t have access to a complete, real-time view of prospects and customers (e.g., behaviors, interests, preferences, consent status, lifecycle stage, etc.) they need to effectively orchestrate bespoke experiences across all touchpoints and earn customers’ loyalty.
Companies of all kinds clearly need to break down their customer data silos.
But these organizations must also find ways to integrate and act on their first-party data in a way that’s mutually beneficial for both their customers and their business
Just look at the omnichannel marketing strategy implemented by fast-fashion retailer and BlueConic customer Planet Blue.
Its approach is a prime example of how to effectively deliver individualized experiences that drive customer loyalty — while simultaneously streamlining and improving operations:
- The retailer captures email addresses at the point of sale in stores in exchange for discounts and other incentives. With more email addresses in hand, the company can consolidate and normalize customers’ personal and transaction data from online and offline sources into unified, persistent profiles for an omnichannel customer view.
- Access to unified data in BlueConic helps Planet Blue see intricate data points, like how much customers spend at specific stores and products and services that lead to the most repeat purchases. In turn, the retailer knows what types of individualized offers to share with specific customers (and which to suppress) based on that data.
- Using BlueConic’s AI Workbench, the retailer has also been able to calculate customer lifetime value (CLV) and recency, frequency, and monetary value (RFM) scores and use that data to create new segments (e.g., ‘champions,’ ‘potential loyalists,’ ‘needs attention’), optimize store inventory, and justify marketing budget and spend.
- Planet Blue is now even able to advise its store associates of high-priority shoppers so they can provide them with VIP treatment over the phone and in the store.
This approach equates to a win-win for both the business (get shoppers to buy more often and/or spend a greater amount of money) and its customer base (get regular, individualized deals for items of actual interest to them and, overall, a best-in-class, end-to-end CX).
Building customer loyalty through customer lifecycle orchestration
Building a single customer view and making it accessible across teams and systems is an essential first step to take to build a better relationship with customers and drive loyalty.
But it’s also vital to coordinate interactions with your target audience in an orchestrated fashion — a task that becomes increasingly complex as the number of touchpoints grows and customers move even faster through various stages of the customer lifecycle.
For many companies, that means a greater focus on customer lifecycle orchestration.
BlueConic customers who craft well-coordinated Lifecycles — orchestrated, one-to-one messaging to individuals in their database — are able to utilize their single customer view and connections to activation systems to ‘meet’ individuals in their unique journeys while optimizing for different channels of interactions.
Here’s a short-and-sweet breakdown of the basics of customer lifecycle orchestration — and how, when implemented well, it can increase customer loyalty and boost conversions:
- Whether it’s prospective, first-time shoppers who’ve engaged heavily with your company online recently or lapsed customers whose business you want to win back, Lifecycles enables you to provide only the most relevant messaging and experiences to those individuals at the right places (channels and touchpoints) and times to influence a desired behavior, action, or outcome.
- When an individual reaches the ‘end’ of a given Lifecycle (e.g., they purchase the product or service you intended them to), they can then be moved to a different Lifecycle (e.g., an upsell-themed one to improve their CLV) or back to the beginning of the initial one to spur repeat purchases of the same item(s) over and over again.
- A customer’s lifecycle stage can be shared with other systems in real time to ensure all teams are able to provide prospects and customers with a coordinated, high-quality CX across channels. For instance, when call center and customer service reps have visibility into how customers are engaging online and in stores and other details (e.g., if they recently submitted an online inquiry about their purchase or if they qualify for special, limited-time pricing) they can easily tailor the conversation to each unique customer.
All in all, Lifecycles offers business users the flexibility and agility to orchestrate bespoke experiences for customers and prospects in every stage of the customer lifecycle, while being responsive to changes in their interests, behaviors, and preferences along the way.
Teams who use Lifecycles in our pure-play CDP determine the exact stages customers should move through and can adjust their Lifecycle rules as needed with ease.
Making strategy and technology changes to earn long-term customer loyalty
Making updated-in-real-time data available to any and all departments that affect customers’ loyalty, satisfaction, and overall experience within a brand — from marketing and commerce to analytics and customer support — is paramount to achieving CX success and retaining high-value customers.
These teams are charged with accelerating growth and unlock revenue opportunities for their companies by extracting as much ROI as possible from their technologies.
And the ideal technology that helps many companies transform their relationship with customers and drive growth for the business is a customer data platform.
Writing for Retail Dive, BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach indicated the right technology helps organizations better engage their target audience and keep their customers’ business.
But, in the grander scheme of things, it also helps drive true digital transformation:
“Data-driven technologies can greatly improve this process, enabling companies to see the growth of digital innovation as an opportunity to interact with customers and gather more data for an individualized experience that builds customer loyalty.”
In short, a CDP enables companies to truly own the relationship with their customers.
Not just by helping teams and tools recognize individuals at every point in their customer journeys, but also by empowering them orchestrate one-to-one experiences to customers that align with their recent interests and engagement and past behaviors and purchases.
And it’s this mutually beneficial experience that fosters greater customer loyalty and lasting value — not just short-term ‘wins’ and modest gains regarding tactical metrics.
“Loyalty is evolving, not dying,” KPMG noted in its 2019 customer loyalty study. “Successful businesses will be those that recognize that the customer experience is increasingly likely to shift from binary and transactional to multiple and relational.”
In other words? Connecting with your audience in an individualized manner is now a must to both differentiate your company and realize your desired marketing and business outcomes — including and especially building customer loyalty (and relationships) over time.
Learn how you can deliver bespoke, cross-channel experiences to individuals — and improve customer loyalty — with a CDP in our on-demand webinar.