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Patrick O’Connor, Former Loyalty Partner Manager, talks about customer retention

Patrick is part of our Sales Team and has joined the company in March 2021. He has over 10 years of experience in the FMCG industry.

His large knowledge of customer loyalty may help retailers to understand the power of loyalty programs and their impact on customer retention. Patrick takes time from his busy schedule to share his point of view with us:

In your opinion, what are the best strategies for customer retention?

There are a whole host of different strategies for customer retention depending on the type of business you operate but for me, the most important thing is about doing the basics right, I am talking about customer service, price, availability, quality, advice, etc and every interaction a customer has in-store and online.

After this, it’s about building a connection and trust with the customer and understanding their needs and providing solutions and a good customer experience to make their lives easier.

Reward your loyal customers. They are more valuable and it’s more expensive to acquire new ones than to retain existing ones, so invest in them. This could be in the form of a loyalty program, early access to sales, surprise and delight, and so on. There is no silver bullet so it’s about testing and learning and always striving for improving customer relationships and satisfaction.

As a retailer, do you need a loyalty program to be successful? If yes, why?

Yes, most definitely. Having a successful loyalty program means more members, more engagement, more data, more retention, and ultimately greater customer lifetime value and profit.

In addition, having more data allows the business to leverage this in the short, medium, and long term – from day-to-day operational and marketing activity right through to long-term strategic planning.

For a retailer: How important is offering an omnichannel loyalty program? Do you think it could directly impact sales/ROI?

I think it’s massively important in today’s world and that it could directly impact sales/ROI. Customers nowadays are engaging with businesses in so many different ways and trying to get cut through your message can be difficult. Loyalty programs give you an added advantage as you are able to see the customers behavior and by customers providing this information they expect you to use it wisely….it’s about personalisation – giving the customer the right offer and message, at the right time and in the right way – all 3 are equally important therefore having an omnichannel loyalty program allows you to deliver the message in the right way and the channel that the customer prefers for example via push notification. Even if a customer has provided an email address they may not engage via this channel but instead via App so you may miss out on a sale if you do not communicate in the right way. Another example of why omnichannel is important is if let’s say you did not have a consumer-facing App but still only had a physical card and paper sign up, Gen Z customers (expecting more innovation from big retailers and having an App) would most likely not go to the trouble of signing up and thus miss out on this cohort of customers and ability to communicate with them.

How important is customer data nowadays in an omnichannel world?

As Clive Humby said in 2006 “Data is the new oil, if unrefined it cannot really be used”. This has never been more true in today’s omnichannel world. With so much data available at so many different customer touchpoints, it is imperative that businesses are able to leverage it correctly to provide greater insights across the entire customer journey and use this to provide a seamless experience across both in-store and digital. 

With increasing concerns about customer data and its use, for example, cookies, do you think loyalty programs can be a great tool to get customer data

Yes, concerns about customers data and their use are getting greater and greater and this is being addressed from a legislative perspective such as GDPR back in 2018 to help protect consumers data but also some organisations are taking it upon themselves to improve customer privacy such as Google announcement to stop using 3rd party cookies on its Chrome browser by 2022 (we have already seen this with Safari blocking 3rd party cookies by default in 2020). 

As regulations are improving, consumers are becoming more aware and having more control over their personal data. Having a loyalty program can give a business a distinct advantage over competitors as they will have access to greater 1st party data and not rely on 3rd party data. The loyalty program can allow a business to collect much greater data on their customers such as demographics etc and be clear with the customer how they will use this data and the customer has control over what information they are comfortable providing and their preferences. In essence, it’s a value exchange, a customer sharing information and being rewarded for it, and the promise and delivery of a better consumer experience.

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