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A retailer can have the best customer loyalty program in place, but it will not be successful without the support of the brand’s employees. Employee engagement is crucial to executing an effective customer loyalty program. Loyalty360 spoke with members to discuss the topic of employee engagement best practices, including measurement, training processes, incentives, and employee involvement in loyalty programs.
Incentives Needed for Optimal Employee Engagement
The COVID pandemic saw a lot of closed doors, but now that the stores are reopening, there have been issues with employee turnover and keeping establishments adequately staffed. When a store is short-staffed, lines are longer, and there is a reluctance with the employee to engage customers in the program.
For example, one retailer programs a pop-up at the register to remind cashiers to mention the loyalty program to every customer. If there is a staff shortage, that can be difficult to accomplish when the cashier is faced with long lines of impatient customers.
Brands agree that it is imperative to empower managers and train them on how to promote the loyalty program. If an employee is not well-trained, the incentive to promote the program is low to none.
Some brands expressed frustration with getting employees to embrace, communicate and sell the program to consumers. Brands need to demonstrate the value of the program to the employees, especially management, because the loyalty programs are helping the bottom line.
Chris Galloway, EVP Strategy and Design, of Brandmovers says, “An employee engagement program is a manifestation of company culture. The best recognition programs align the companies' mission and values to those of their employees.”
One retailer ran a competition between stores where prizes were awarded to the store with the highest number of loyalty sign-ups and transactions. The contest and open communication helped engage associates and drove loyalty numbers higher.
Another way to engage employees is to offer the loyalty program to them as well. If employees receive a discount or earn loyalty points towards rewards, it not only increases employee morale and retention, but helps the employees understand the loyalty program on a more in-depth level when engaging customers.
Oliver Mitchell, VP of Sales, of Brandmovers adds, “Brands should consider modeling an employee engagement program after the shared values and behaviors of the organization and its leadership.”
Now that the employee is engaged in the program, what is the best way to measure that engagement?
A recognition and/or rewards system is key to engaging employees. Running weekly reports to measure performance is also imperative. When stores run a successful campaign, it is easy to see an increase in loyalty sign-ups and transaction rates.
Says Galloway, “Brands should use qualitative data such as behaviors, conversations, and overall employee satisfaction alongside quantitative platform metrics such as active engagement rate, issuance and redemption rates, and integration usage to measure employee engagement and overall program efficacy.”
Customer Loyalty Strategy is Contingent on Employee Engagement
“Every customer loyalty strategy needs the understanding and support of a brand's employees,” says Mitchell. “Loyalty is not just an affinity for earning points from transactions, it is a sum total of all brand interactions and how well they are aligned with the brand promise.”
Galloway adds, “Loyalty members expect special treatment from consumer affairs and customer service teams, and any lack of alignment between their expectations and their experience will impact results. In a broader sense, all employees can play a role in a brand's overall loyalty strategy as they can be evangelists and help to connect their networks to the program.”
Brands agree that providing training on the loyalty program is crucial to empowering management. Once management feels confident that they can promote the program on their own, they are more willing to do so.
Says Mitchell, “This is also true in Channel Incentive and B2B Loyalty programs as enrollment and engagement is heavily reliant on the channel sales and marketing teams to promote the program, and recognizing and rewarding behavior to all stakeholders (e.g. game boards, contests, travel incentives, leaderboards, perks, etc. ) for actively promoting the program always generates results, and most importantly, is measurable”
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