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Five Customer-Loyalty Predictions for the Post-COVID-19 World
COVID-19 has influenced all customer segments, in every industry. The travel and retail industries have been hit the hardest, while FinTech and pharma have experienced an increase in revenue. Consumers have, in turn, also made some changes, with 77% of US consumers altering their shopping behavior, adopting new patterns and trying new brands. In light of this shift, winning back customers’ trust and maintaining loyalty should be a top priority for any brand or retailer. Here’s how your business can readjust your thinking to succeed in the post-COVID-19 world:
1. The Rise of Nomadic Customers
During the lockdown, customers had more time and energy to search for the best deals on the internet. This helped them discover new brands and retailers. Even after lockdowns were lifted, they maintained this behavior. Dubbed the ‘nomadic customer,’ these buyers migrate from place to place looking for the best deals.
One way to settle these customers down is to give them more value. Many people are still spending more time indoors with lots of time on their hands. If you can make the shopping journey memorable, they’ll stick with you no matter what. Gamification, reward programs, online community events, VIP clubs: these are just a few examples that can help your brand feel unique and engaging.
2. Touchless Retail Is Here to Stay
Shopping at physical stores will never be passé, even if online shopping is seemingly taking over. The fact of the matter is that COVID-19 has made people more aware of the benefits of contactless shopping. Brick-and-mortar stores have to adhere to regulations to accommodate safety recommendations, as well as consumer preferences.
This can include measures such as installing plastic shields at the counters or integrating advanced technologies that make all aspects of checkout truly touchless. As a first step, contactless payment will become an absolute must in stores across the globe. Receipt scanning and scanning devices will also play a key role in making touchless engagement happen.
However, the same principle can be applied to loyalty programs as well. Instead of letting plastic cards exchange hands, consider using a POS system where customers can earn and redeem points with a digital loyalty card on their phone.
3. Mobile Engagement Will Be the New Norm
Speaking of smartphones, on-the-go engagement with brands will gain even more traction, as people will not only browse but also order products using their phones. The mobile-loving kids of Gen Z will also gravitate towards companies that offer value and convenience.
This means that only offering a mobile view of your eCommerce store will no longer suffice. Instead, brands and retailers in the post-COVID-19 world need to represent themselves with dedicated mobile apps. Doing so allows people to browse, shop, redeem loyalty program rewards, fill out surveys and access gamification all in one seamless platform.
The only downside of this trend is that designing a dedicated app can take time and resources. This means there is likely to be a huge push toward accelerator apps or development kits that help speed up the implementation process.
In the case of a loyalty app, accelerators provide pre-built elements, such as the digital loyalty card, campaign offers, reward pages or gamified profiling features, all of which can be customized to match the brand’s image.
4. Personalization Will Be in High Demand
A recent study showed that personalization is the main pillar for loyalty in 19 of the 27 markets researched. But to appear more relevant, companies across all industries must rethink their data collection and segmentation strategy and go one step further.
One obvious challenge is users’ reluctance to share personal information. The same report indicates that 98% of customers are concerned about their personal data. To address consumers’ hesitation, companies have to utilize various incentives so that their audience provides enough profile information or takes brand quizzes.
Remember: You have to ensure that your loyalty program provider handles personal information of customers in a secure and private manner. It’s also important to make sure that the data management aligns with the proper regulations and governance models of the country your business operates in.
With a wealth of information at their disposal, brands and retailers will be able to hyper-personalize email communication and share content that is relevant to each customer’s age, gender, personality traits, loyalty status or other characteristics.
Interactivity is another important aspect of gamified quizzes and surveys. But remember that they have to be fun and easy to use. For example, you can design questionnaires to function like Tinder, so users can swipe to like and dislike products and looks.
5. Rewards are Going to Evolve
There’s no denying that loyalty programs have become an increasingly popular tool for enhancing the value offering of companies and enticing customers to change their behavior. For example, companies can highlight new product categories with offers or provide an incentive to download a mobile app. But in a post-COVID-19 world, loyalty programs also have to evolve.
Membership programs that only offer discounts and coupons will quickly lose relevance. Instead, rewards programs that have more variety will emerge. Next-gen loyalty programs provide a strong focus on the experience. From surprise birthday rewards to VIP gifts and early access to new products, loyalty incentives should be about making customers feel special.
Loyalty programs of the future need to recognize customers’ need for constant engagement. The best way to keep up interest is to award points or benefits for non-transactional activities, such as sharing product pages on social media or participating in an Instagram contest.
Be Agile. Be Ready.
The key to coming out on top following COVID-19 is to offer increased value for your customers. This value can come through loyalty rewards, personalized product recommendations, a dedicated mobile app or by the simple act of responding to customer needs and offering positivity during a stressful time. It’s up to you to decide. Whatever method you choose, you need to act now and act fast in order to solidify customer loyalty.
About the Author
Zsuzsa Kecsmar is CCO and Co-founder of Antavo, listed by Forbes as one of Europe’s top 100 female founders in tech. After acting as Antavo’s CMO for nearly a decade, she took over the role to help the company’s clients. She is also a former journalist and has been awarded by the European Commission.