A GUIDE TO CUSTOMER LOYALTY PROGRAMS
Big ticket items or small regular purchases – there is a loyalty program for it!
Loyalty programs need to literally be a rewarding experience, as it’s easy for customers to switch or move when they’re not satisfied. Entrepreneurs need to create some level of commitment to their business, or the people behind the business.
Coffee is a simple example – offering a freebie or paying forward a latte to someone who can’t afford one. Former Holmesglen NEIS client Carlos from Espressito Coffee experiences fast-paced peak times when serving his regular clientele on their breaks at work. His uniquely branded card has a cute custom stamp (sunglasses!) to count you down to your free coffee. This method is simple, quick, well-understood and yet another opportunity to put his unmistakable yellow branding in front of customers.
Programs can take a multitude of forms – a small card that’s stamped or punched; an app that’s scanned at point-of-sale, or an automatic point accrual system with each online purchase. The reward itself can be a discount, a free product or points toward a product. Loyalty programs using data (collected with the consent of the customer), can create customised and personalised offers for each customer and are expected to be a strong force in the near future according to The Point of Loyalty, from their For Love Or Money 2018 survey. Make sure you’re meeting privacy laws if you’re storing customer’s personal information, and be aware of the Privacy Act as it relates to Australian small businesses.
Mastercard Asia Pacific’s report Achieving Advocacy and Influence in a Changing Loyalty Landscape surveyed 7000 respondents across the Asia Pacific region and found 9 in 10 Australians have at least one loyalty card in their wallet. The report identified three key areas to drive further engagement – personalisation, communication and, increasingly popular with Australian consumers and retailers, digitisation. There are countless digital loyalty apps available in Australia. Here are our picks – each offers a free trial, so be sure to do your own research.
- Customers can store registered coffee reward programs digitally with Stampede.
- The Rewardle app supports thousands of businesses around Australia and is available via the App store or Google Play.
- With Square, you can subscribe to Square Loyalty and create a digital reward program, which automatically rewards customers through the point-of-sale. If you’re a Square newbie, be sure to check out their own loyalty program, in the form of reimbursements on processing fees up to $1000 for referring a friend!
Customers are influenced by loyalty programs, and value-for-money is usually where a customers impression of a program starts. Offering a reward benefit that competitors will have difficulty copying, is a great way to help a business stake its place with existing and future customers. If the program has been well-considered and implemented, there is generally a measurable increase in the frequency of purchase, the volume of purchases, trust and recommendations.
Loyalty programs support the time-honoured business truth that keeping an existing customer requires a lot less energy than gaining a new customer.
Telstra’s Smarter Business™ 2018 Intelligence Report conducted two parallel surveys: one targeting more than 1000 small businesses; the other targeting more than 1000 consumers across Australia. 39% of customers surveyed said rewards programs are important to them, but only 14% of surveyed small businesses currently offer a rewards program.
Do your sums and make the offer appealing but profitable. Beware – the number one reason for people abandoning a scheme is the impression that points or rewards aren’t earnt fast enough. Espressito Coffee offers the 7th cup free – faster-moving than the usual 10-cup card and that is appreciated by their customers.
Reward programs are a benefit but not a replacement for good service and ongoing customer relationships.
Return on investment needs to be considered from all angles before putting staff and customers through the implementation and ongoing management of a loyalty scheme. Will you be gently improving your customers’ experience or taking a big chance by rebuilding it? You need to make return business the best option for your customers and that option happens to include a loyalty program.
Would you like to start your own small business? For information on FREE small business training with the NEIS program, use the postcode search tool to find your nearest NEIS provider.