4 Ways to Use Your Loyalty Program to Build Relationships

Loyalty programs are great at retaining customers, but they also provide great opportunities to build relationships with customers.

A recent study shows 87 percent of consumers want relationships with brands, but just 17 percent believe brands make an effort to do so, according to the Edelman Brandshare report.

It’s time to connect with your customers and build relationships that spur profits. To help, here are four ways you can use your loyalty program to build meaningful relationships with your shoppers.

Download our free retail customer loyalty success guide to learn how to drive customers back 2x more.

1. Treat your VIPs

Take some time to reward and thank your most loyal customers. Your VIP customers are in your store on a regular basis, but how much do you know about them? They represent a lucrative segment of your customer base, so it’s important to keep customer satisfaction high.

Consider hosting VIP events throughout the year. For instance, invite your ‘regulars’ to an exclusive after-hours sale. Be sure to have additional staff at the event so the owners and managers can focus solely on customer interactions. Take the time to introduce yourself, learn your customer’s names, ask about their families and talk about what they like and dislike about your store.

This kind of personalized treatment won’t just add a few bucks to the register; it will also increase satisfaction with your loyalty program. Program satisfaction is 2.7 times higher for members that feel recognized by the program, according to research from the 2016 Bond Loyalty Report.

Download our free small business customer loyalty success guide to learn how to drive customers back 2x more.

2. Diversify your rewards

What does your reward structure look like? Does it offer products to customers based on how much they spend? That’s how the majority of brands set up their program. However, research shows a growing number of customers are interested in events or experiences.

Only 21 percent are happy with access to events and experiences provided through loyalty programs, according to a recent report.

Consider diversifying your rewards to cater to this desire. You can offer tickets to a local ball game, concert or tour.

It’s another chance to personalize your program too. When customers spend a certain amount, the reward can be tickets to a local event of their choice. You can give the customer a choice between three different events that are all (roughly) the same monetary value. To claim this reward, they must come into the store, select the event they want and pick up their tickets.

By rewarding customers with local experiences, you’re making a connection with them. You’re not just encouraging customers to spend money to get more of your products, you’re providing a chance to do something fun in the community. That’s the kind of effort that builds relationships.

3. Ask customers for feedback

It’s good to take the pulse of your customer base every so often. Many businesses assume they understand their customers and know exactly what to do to make them happy. Why make assumptions when you can get answers straight from the source?

Create a survey to collect feedback from customers. Focus the survey on an aspect that you want to improve, like customer service or traffic flow. Or, use the survey to identify things that bother your customers.

Send the survey to your loyalty program members. You can also send your members a text message that asks them to fill out the survey the next time they’re in the store. As an added incentive, give survey participants 5-10 percent off their purchase for that day.

By taking an active interest in what your customers want, you show them that their opinion matters. It’s an important step in building a relationship.

4. Create a newsletter

To build a relationship with customers, you have to communicate with them. It’s no different than building a relationship with a friend. You’d send texts, chat on the phone and make plans to hang out, right? Well, you should do the same with your customers.

You might not have time to send each customer text, but you can create a newsletter that keeps all of your customers up-to-date on your store’s news.

Every month or ever quarter, depending on how much time you have, create a one-page newsletter that focuses on your business. You can write about employees, remodeling projects, upcoming events, changes in your industry or customer trends. You can even include a coupon.

In the newsletter, you can also encourage customers to reach out with any questions, comments or concerns. You want to encourage a two-way flow of communication.

You can promote your newsletter through your loyalty program. Create a ‘newsletter promotion.’ Send your members a text message letting them know that your newsletter is out. Encourage them to come in and pick it up to redeem a special coupon that’s inside.

If you’ve collected email address from your members, you can also send it to their inboxes.

Download our free small business customer loyalty success guide to learn how to drive customers back 2x more.

How do you build relationships with your customers? Share your experience with others in the comment section below.

Lisa Furgison
About the Author
Lisa Furgison

Lisa is a writer at Fivestars, a freelance journalist, and co-owner of a media company, McEwen's Media.

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