Understanding Customer Loyalty Inside and Outside of the Rewards Program

Loyalty programs are critical for businesses that want to understand their customers’ recurring purchasing habits. But what many brands do not consider is how those same customers behave when they have no points to redeem. It is understanding the full-picture that is going to help brands keep their customers engaged and loyal for the long term.

Arrivia provides loyalty, booking and marketing solutions to consumer-facing companies by driving value through travel and lifestyle benefits. They assist their partners in uncovering new revenue streams through additional touchpoints while acting as an extension of the brand in their loyalty strategy. 

The Ultimate Expression of Loyalty is Recurrence

According to Travis Markel, Chief Member Experience Officer of Arrivia, “Customer loyalty goes beyond currency. If a customer only comes to your brand when they have currency, you need to have loyalty.”

The ultimate expression of customer loyalty is having a customer return to a brand any time they are need of that brand’s product or service, regardless of loyalty points status. By creating touchpoints and call-to-action items, brands are able to curate that loyalty, to become top of mind even during dormancy.

It is necessary for companies to understand what it takes to drive consumers to consumption.

As Markel states, “Consumption leads to resumption of an elongated business relationship. That is our core goal.”


Pandemic Shifts Company Focus for Loyalty

Travel was one of the most affected industries during the Covid pandemic. There was a desire for customers to engage, but a lack of ability. Suppliers were canceling, and there was a broad uncertainty in the travel industry as a whole.

During that time, it was more critical than ever for brands to increase their listening posts, especially in the case of social media. While digital acquisition of information has become oversaturated with online surveys and emails, listening to non-traditional channels such as social media is increasingly valuable.

Says Markel, “We implemented a dedicated member engagement group that does nothing but actively listen to all the sources of feedback. We want to take a look at all of those touchpoints: what people are saying about us, what we are saying about ourselves and ultimately how customers are voting with their wallet.”

Service Delivery Backbone is the Most Important Focus

Over the course of the pandemic, many brands lost valuable employees. Customers gravitate to good service, but organizations with a lack of staff and knowledgeable associates will not necessarily damage their long-term customer loyalty. If companies were careful to preserve their service footprint and invest in their team to provide superior customer service going forward, they will easily be able to recover any losses from the pandemic.

Markel adds, “The service delivery backbone is the most important thing companies can focus on and invest in to drive long-term strategy.”

Successful Brands Monitor all Touchpoints

Today’s customers want to be known and understood. A successful brand will use the customer journey to monitor all interactions, and bring all touchpoints into a single view. Markel describes this as “different windows into the same room.” If the frontline associate can see all those interactions in one place, they can interact with the customer on a more personal level.

Additionally, augmenting a brand’s core loyalty program with non-funded currencies can drive down the costs of the loyalty program, allowing clients to reinvest the returns into their ecosystem and monetize partner relationships. 

Understanding Customer Behavior Outside of Loyalty Space

Trading currency for discounts is a limited view of loyalty. Arrivia works with partners to gain a holistic view of consumption patterns. Technology is a great enabler, but it means nothing without human interaction and outreach. The most successful efforts to drive a loyalty program include direct outreach to customers personally to build a caring relationship that goes beyond the transaction.

Says Markel, “The most important thing any brand can do is stop looking at their loyalty program success in regard to how many points are being consumed, but looking at what happens outside of that currency ecosystem.”

Understanding what customers are doing when they run out of points is key to fully understanding consumption patterns. The goal of any loyalty plan is to be the first, best and most logical call to action when a consumer needs that product or service, regardless of whether or not they have points to spend.

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