ICLP’s managing director Mignon Buckingham says: “The world is changing fast. Brands need to change fast too and rise to the challenge of ever-increasing customer expectations. Traditional points and miles alone are no longer strong enough to drive customer loyalty.
“Customer-centric e-tailers like Amazon have, for example, introduced many customer relationship techniques that demonstrate the power of suggestion. The proven success of recommending purchases and activities, based on previous interactions, shows how easily the customer experience can be personalised to encourage loyalty. Equally, brands need to embrace the complex, interconnected benefits of the evolving social media world. Customers already love and include online social communities in their everyday lives. Brands that understand how they can play a more significant role within their customers’ social communities can create greater emotional connections. Brands must find innovative ways to add even greater value in these channels to increase their customers’ loyalty.
“From airline frequent flyer programmes through to B2B reseller programmes, many loyalty strategies have not progressed from outdated legacy business models. If brands fail to innovate consistently, and fail to find ways to differentiate their customer relationships from competitor offerings, they risk losing vital customers.”
Dion Maritz, general manager of ICLP Middle East, adds: “The frustration is that many companies, from financial services organisations, supermarkets and utilities providers through to airlines and hotels, already hold a vast amount of data and information on their customers. But they are not making the creative leap from insight to innovation. Fuel and air alone do not make a fire; to create unique customer value, you also need a spark.
“Listening to customers is a starting point, of course, but not always enough. Henry Ford once commented that had he asked his customers what they wanted, they would have just said a faster horse. Loyalty and marketing professionals in all industries need to show Ford’s foresight in understanding what the customer wants and then exceed those expectations with an innovative new proposition. In fact, the e-tailer ‘recommendation’ technique perfectly illustrates the point, highlighting to customers products that they might want but just not be aware of yet.”
Buckingham concludes: “We’re practising what we preach at ICLP, which includes revamping – to include much more of the detailed and informative content for which the market and our customers have been asking. As well as the improved look and feel, we have also listened to the loyalty and marketing community and used this insight to evolve our thinking and ensure the website delivers a global hub of loyalty intelligence.”