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The importance of brand loyalty and customer engagement

The importance of brand loyalty and customer engagement

Digital TransformationIndustry ExpertRetailThought LeadershipTop StoriesTrade & Logistics

For businesses to succeed, they must establish a loyal customer base. It’s harder than it sounds, companies that have spent years building a strong cliental can lose them all overnight. So, while it’s about gaining a good target market, it’s also about learning how to keep that loyalty. Intelligent CXO spoke to three experts from across industry verticals to gather their insights and thoughts into how to ‘lock-in’ brand loyalty and customer engagement.

With the world pivoting to digital, the retail industry has had to completely reimagine the way it engages with customers. The new way of doing business has caused large-scale disruptions in the role of digital media, customer behaviour, payment methods and data management. Retailers must leverage the wealth of customer-generated data to keep pace with the constantly changing customer requirements and remain a step ahead of the demand curve.

“Retailers need to target customers with hyper-relevant content to foster meaningful, long-lasting connections with the brand,” said Alpa Shah, ICT | Global VP of Customer Experience at Frost and Sullivan. “With the right technology, they can gain insights into what works and what does not in their internal and customer-facing operations. The first step is to ensure that customers have an easy way to provide that input. An investment in voice of the customer analytics enables retailers to immediately hear positive and negative experiences, understand behaviours and predict actions in each channel of interaction.”

To gain more insight into consumers and their loyalties, Intelligent CXO spoke to three experts from Keysource, Panintelligence and Conga for their thoughts.

Jon Healy, Operations Director at Keysource

Jon Healy, Operations Director at Keysource

One of the most important areas for companies looking to develop customer and brand loyalty is to ensure that they keep their customers’ personal data safe and secure. This means having strong cybersecurity measures in place and understanding where your vulnerabilities lie. 

In the past few years there have been some extremely damaging security breaches from large, established organisations who have previously positioned themselves as ‘trusted’ and ‘secure’ that have without doubt impacted on their customer and brand loyalty. 

One of the most high-profile incidents was in 2018 when British Airways suffered a cyberattack that exposed personal data belonging to more than 420,000 customers. The hack of BA’s payment processing infrastructure diverted unsuspecting victims to a malicious website where names, debit and credit card details, postal addresses, and email addresses were harvested over a 15-day period.

This data breach was extremely damaging for the brand as customers reported that it felt invasive and personal. Affected customers suffered ‘direct financial losses’ and ‘credit rating issues’ and there were further concerns for future repercussions. As a result the airline’s ‘impression score’, which measures whether someone has a positive or negative impression of a brand dropped 10 points lower than it was in August 2016, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex data. The company was criticised for failing to undertake inexpensive, technically simple security measures such as “rigourous testing”, protecting accounts with multi-factor authentication or “limiting access to applications, data and tools to only those required to fulfil a user’s role”.

The company was fined £20 million as the ICO ruled that the firm failed to protect customer data. However, in cases like this, the biggest loss is that of trust which affects the way that customers feel about an organisation. They feel let down and the resultant loss in confidence can be difficult to recover from. 

Sadly, our connected world has become a lucrative playground for criminals who can launch attacks on victims in multiple countries and jurisdictions, with little fear of being caught. Organisations need to act quickly to protect their customers and to truly earn their loyalty.

Zandra Moore, Co-Founder and CEO, Panintelligence

Zandra Moore, Co-Founder and CEO, Panintelligence

Customer acquisition costs have been rising faster than customer lifetime value for some time now. In fact, it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as to retain a repeat buyer. To maximise return on investment, you must double down on the customers you already have.

Customer retention is the first step, followed by turning your buyers into brand advocates by growing customer loyalty. 

Measuring customer loyalty and working to improve it over time is one of the most important things you can do to grow your business. Customer loyalty is the key that ramps up customer growth, spreads word of mouth and increases your brand value. 

To improve customer loyalty, it’s important to measure what your customers think about your existing product. Identify areas of opportunity and act on them to improve the customer experience. Secondly, measure how loyal your customers are – do they keep churning or are they sticking around month after month? Getting to negative churn rates will accelerate your business’ growth. 

Excellent customer service will prevent customers from becoming disloyal. By delivering on the basics, listening to what customers want and making it easier for them through being proactive and self-service, your customer service team can be a driver of customer loyalty. 

Business Intelligence (BI) is the key to gaining in-depth knowledge of customer behaviours, needs, wants so that you and your employees can build strong, lasting, profitable ties.

Boosting customer loyalty and sales is best accomplished by capturing vital customer and operational data. Once you begin to collect data, you have a way to establish benchmarks, monitor performances and use real-time intelligence to improve the customer experience. Thanks to the sophistication of BI solutions, you can use the data points to address both macro level and micro changes. You could identify where providing additional training or support to a staff member would help them to perform a task more efficiently. Or you could begin to gather information about a regular patient or customer to anticipate and personalise interactions with them. 

Either way, when people get the sense that you have their best interests in mind, they’re more likely to share their thoughts and expectations. That conversation can strengthen the brand relationship. And what your customers and employees tell you can become a competitive advantage. 

Ash Finnegan, Digital Transformation Officer at Conga

Ash Finnegan, Digital Transformation Officer at Conga

Culture and loyalty are central to any organisation and the more successful providers foster channel partner and customer relationships at all times.

The businesses that have thrived over the past year or so have implemented the right combination of people, processes and technology. Leading vendors stood out by leveraging systems to shift or change the way their customers do business while supporting the adoption of new processes or channels, adapting to their customers’ changing needs. 

When it comes to customer and brand loyalty, honesty is key – especially given customers’ experiences throughout the pandemic. Vendors and channel partners have a responsibility not to push the latest technology solutions on to their customers, but to actively solve the challenges that they are facing – and this often doesn’t begin with technology. In fact, providers need to establish where a customer currently stands in their Digital Transformation journey: their ‘digital maturity’.

This involves starting with their customer’s issue, reviewing their current operational model, and identifying any pain points across the business cycle. Only then will customers see where change needs to occur to progress and improve their organisation’s overall operability. Customers can then start to establish clear business objectives and identify technology solutions that will help them to achieve these goals. That way, customers have a clear picture of the current state of their business and what the next stage of their digital journey should be. 

As a service provider, customers need to trust your ‘brand’, it is a two-way relationship. Vendors need to prove that they are, in fact, loyal to their customers and looking to make a customer for life. After all, brand loyalty stems from trust and performance. Be honest in what can you actually deliver for your customer and how can you resolve their issue. In some cases, this may involve working with a channel partner or another provider.

To summarise, Digital Transformation is a learning curve and a journey – vendors and channel partners need to be mindful of that when advising their customers. Most importantly, they need to listen to them properly and solve their problems, as opposed to pushing the latest ‘innovations’ – what works for one, may not work for another. By doing so, customers will be more inclined to go back to you for advice as they will trust your judgement. You will have forged a relationship and established brand loyalty.

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