The impact of the pandemic has affected small business owners in ways that very few could have anticipated. With the current unemployment rate at 14.7% the best or only way to rebuild your business is by providing customers with a good value. Even customers who were not directly impacted will not be spending in the same way they did just a few months ago.
While we all hope things will improve at a steady pace, it is critical that you do not take a ‘wait and see’ approach. Instead, develop a strategy that allows you to adapt and overcome the challenges.
Make the Most of Your Limited Budget
Consumers will be looking for good values but competing on price alone is not a viable strategy. Retaining customers and fostering customer loyalty is more important than ever. Thirty-six million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began so your business will need an edge – one that makes your customers gravitate to your business, but how do you do that when your own budget is very limited?
A low-cost loyalty program that is abundantly simple is one way to engage and keep customers in a very efficient way. Businesses that have an appealing customer loyalty program while the COVID-19 pandemic is still active are at a great advantage. Just like prior to the pandemic, the most successful customer loyalty programs are secure, easy to join, demand minimal employee training, and don’t burden the business owners with a heavy time commitment.
Here are five effective ways to help reach out to both old and new customers and increase engagement through a customer loyalty program:
1. Keep Your Loyalty Rewards Program Simple
Make it easy for customers to join and keep it dead simple by implementing a customer loyalty program that anyone can understand. If your employees cannot easily explain your rewards program in 30 seconds or less, few customers will understand the incentives you have created for them to keep coming back.
Having a simple, customer-friendly loyalty program will help put your business in a better position to succeed in getting more customer engagements. Customers prefer simplicity — they don’t want to feel overwhelmed and bothered with filling out forms and submitting requirements. Offer a loyalty program that doesn’t require your customers to fill out forms, download apps, or carry cards with them every time they shop. A simple yet efficient loyalty program will only need a phone number so customers can participate and earn rewards as they shop.
2. Make it Easy to Redeem Rewards
You can make your customer loyalty program more attractive and engaging by keeping your rewards redemption process simple and straightforward. For example, you may offer instant rewards that allow customers to earn points for every dollar spent and receive cash rewards when they earn enough points. This works because it’s easy to understand and easy to remember.
3. Strongly Consider Privacy and Make it Easy to Join
Respect your customer’s privacy. Fraud in customer loyalty programs is up over 89% from mid-2018 to 2019 and consumers attitudes about sharing personal information is shifting rapidly. New rules and regulations are in place for protecting consumer data so think twice about taking on the liability of collecting and maintaining extensive customer profiles.
Many successful loyalty programs utilize text-2-join and only collect first names. This makes it easy to get anyone to join. No app to download, to sign up form, nothing creepy. This still allows you to remain connected to your customers because they get a text when they earn or redeem reward and see your promo messages.
4. Extend or Totally Eliminate Points Expiry
Businesses need to show more flexibility and be willing to make necessary modifications to the existing terms and conditions associated with their loyalty programs, especially during the new normal. This is an excellent way to encourage customers to patronize your brand. After all, during this time of crisis, empathy has become the new norm in marketing.
You can show your support and generosity to your customers by extending or totally eliminating points expiration, so customers won’t lose their progress and can still redeem their points. You can also lower redemption rates for rewards, so members can redeem their available points. Further, make sure to make your loyalty rewards program available for online shopping if you’re offering this kind of service.
5. Consider Your Target Audience
While it is important to keep your loyalty program simple, you can throw in perks for specific types of customers. For example, if there is a large corporate campus near your business, you can offer extra points or rewards for employees of that company. Seniors or activity duty military personnel are worthy, and added incentives for the people on the front lines of the pandemic would be especially timely. Under the current circumstances very few businesses can afford to be especially generous, but a little appreciation goes a long way towards building customer loyalty.
Get Ahead of the Game
Be prepared to pivot, to improvise and most of all, focus on how your customers’ needs are changing. Many things like customers attitudes about sharing personal information or having to download an app to participate in a loyalty program were already shifting before the pandemic. Now is the time for change and the companies that recognize that will be well positioned to survive and even thrive in our new reality.
The period of recovery following quarantine may still be challenging for most businesses, but this offers a great opportunity to get ahead of the game. If you are quick to adapt to the new normal and communicate benefits to loyal customers, your business will likely have positive customer interactions to help move past the pandemic. By offering a loyalty rewards program that offers convenience and hassle-free participation, you are building bridges with customers by establishing an efficient strategy to respond to this new situation effectively.