Customer fidelity: the rules of the game are changing

MANUEL ENRICO
05/06/2020
In brief
To create appropriate customer loyalty, retailers need to interpret their business differently. The essential prerequisites are data analysis technologies and service offerings.

The relationship dynamics of customer loyalty rely on the commitment from the retailer to anticipate and meet customer needs. The ultimate goal is a customisable and responsive customer fidelity, capable of interpreting the characteristics and wishes of the consumer, translating them into useful information in order to make the offer more attractive and fulfilling.

An integral part of this process is customer satisfaction, or rather, the customer’s perception of being able to choose what best suits his needs and expectations. It is not about pricing and convenience but about satisfaction with the store’s services and features. The relationship between shopper and retailer must be able to generate the trust that consumers require and value when choosing a brand or a specific store.

The advent of new technologies and greater customer awareness require retailers to be more flexible, prepared, and available to new dynamics of data analysis and service offerings, so as to provide the most effective answers to an increasingly informed and demanding clientele. In such a context, in order to be able to create an appropriate customer loyalty strategy, retailers need to re-interpret their business through some fundamental steps.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

When it comes to fidelity, customer experience is the first step to gaining and retaining loyal customers. It is an approach to the customer mainly based on the emotional aspect, in which those who buy perceive the interest of those who sell in ensuring them a shopping journey suited to their taste and interests. This is possible with advanced dynamic analysis between the different retail areas, providing customer profiling useful for creating personalised store’s itineraries.

Whether it’s proximity interaction, through apps which find in mobile devices the best interface, or the store layout, every moment of the customer’s experience in the store must meet his expectations. The optimization of spaces and the best arrangement of the shelves and aisles must be studied within the thematic framework of digital interaction, reflecting the omnichannel nature of the store.

INCREASINGLY SELF

The centrality of the customer is highlighted by his positive attitude towards self service options. In this regard, technology-based self services such as self-scanning and self-checkout are fundamental for the retailer. It is important, for example, to facilitate the journey by integrating smartphones with apps to acquire information and carry out a pre-checkout. The customer must be able to immediately access product information and interact directly with the store. It is a rewarding and personal experience, which also results in savings for the retailer in terms of investments and workforce, being able to assign his personnel to other activities other than customer assistance.

The self-service mentality has become increasingly widespread among consumers. From the choice of products to payment transactions, those who buy have mastery of tools that renders obsolete the old communication and interaction dynamics.

SMART ERA AND GAMIFICATION

Smart technologies have a decisive impact on daily life and can significantly increase engagement.Proximity marketing and digital signage are two means of relating with customers through their devices, which offer immersive experiences useful for enhancing the store’s potential. The goal is to evolve engagement into entertainment, offering to the targeted customer segment further emotional involvement.

Digital signage lends itself to being an engaging and captivating infotainment platform, to which gamification options can be added. The use of components borrowed from the playful world, such as the successful completion of certain actions, e.g. browsing the digital flyer, are rewarded with prizes in line with the consumption profile, increasing the customer’s emotional engagement and strengthening his loyalty .

LOYALTY PROGRAMMES

The importance of loyalty programmes is also evident in Italian retail, as shown by a recent study by the Osservatorio Fedeltà (Loyalty Observatory). Out of a sample of 500 companies (of which 60% B2C), 53% of respondents have such a programme, and 76% monitor the effectiveness of their loyalty strategies.An interesting figure also emerges on the customised communication of loyalty actions, which stands at 65% of the study subjects.

These programmes may be important for increasing customer confidence in the store or brand.Through advanced analytics systems on different databases, such as TLoyalty, it is possible to generate a reliable customer profile, a prerequisite for targeted promotional campaigns. In these, the customer can perceive his ‘uniqueness’ for the store, thus maximizing the positive consequences on his loyalty.

In today’s omnichannel retail environment, customer loyalty can only be this. If not properly implemented, the loss of competitiveness will be the unavoidable consequence.

Turnover, values, customers, experiences and people. Let’s put some order in all this.

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