With retail sales falling – a 0.6% drop in the March quarter after a 0.3% in the December quarter – loyalty is waning and a top priority for brands is finding ways to reclaim and retain customers.

Transparency, being community-minded, thanking them, and offering high-quality at good value are some of the things customers say brands can do to win their loyalty, according to a recent survey by leading specialists in customer lifecycle management, Customology.

Customology founder and CEO, Mark James said, “Customer loyalty is intrinsically linked to a brand’s success, and loyalty can be scuppered if customers are not rewarded appropriately. Rewards, however, must be genuine and add tangible value. The key is to recognise and appreciate the customer’s loyalty and reward the behaviour you want to influence. Conversely, it is extremely difficult to win back once-loyal customers after you have lost them.”

Drawing on its latest data, Customology reveals the six ways brands can win customer loyalty.

  1. Don’t rely on marketing emails: Too many brands use the spray-and-pray approach, relying on marketing emails to create loyal customers, rather than creating genuine value. The Customology study found that almost half (46%) of customers hardly read these emails and almost two-thirds (61%) said they rarely influence their purchase decisions. Brands could use a mix of communication channels, such as SMS, direct mail, push notifications, social media and advertising.
  2. Thank customers: A simple thank you goes a long way for customers who have chosen to spend with you. One in five customers (19%) reported not receiving any form of communication after their first visit, despite sharing their contact details. A follow-up email or a push notification with a personalised note on what their purchase means to the business is a good place to start. 
  1. Give back to the community: Customers want a holistic view of the brands they’re purchasing from, and this knowledge makes a direct impact on where they spend their money. Customology’s data shows 82% of customers think it’s important for brands to give back to the community, and 50% believe it would directly influence their brand loyalty. It’s worthwhile for brands to promote their corporate social responsibility – whether that’s supporting a local community project, reducing their environmental footprint, or donating a portion of profits.
  2. Be honest and transparent: Honesty is the best policy. The reality is, however, that close to half (48%) of consumers don’t believe brands are honest in their communications, and 50% don’t believe online reviews are genuine. When what brands say about themselves doesn’t match what customers hear from elsewhere, the brand is perceived as out of touch or, at worst, deceptive. Brands could focus on developing a more human relationship with their customers.
  3. Loyalty programs must provide strong value: Over two-thirds (68%) of customers are loyal to brands that don’t have a loyalty scheme. However, 82% of customers believe they should still be rewarded for their loyalty. Brands could assess whether existing loyalty or reward programs are still relevant and providing value. Customers should be recognised and rewarded based on their unique position in the lifecycle, their specific purchase behaviour and preferences.
  4. Quality, value and customer experience are key: There is less reason to provide a loyalty program if you maintain these three values. More than half (55%) of customers would be tempted to go to a competitor if the quality of a brand’s products or services declined, 50% would leave if they found better prices elsewhere, and 42% would leave a brand if they had a poor experience.