Generating revenue through e-commerce platforms requires creating a win-win situation for both parties – the business, and the customer. Turning first-time buyers into repeat customers is not always easy. In some cases, simple rewards in the form of gift vouchers can work, but today’s customers generally look towards brands that offer personalized services.
Research shows that 69% of customers shop more frequently at stores that offer consistent customer service. With 2023 right around the corner, e-commerce businesses are redesigning their strategies to reward loyal customers who ultimately help them grow. Rewarding loyal customers is all about increasing the value of services by offering more than just what they have paid for.
Like employees and managers, customers also appreciate it when they get rewarded for their loyalty. Not just that, 52% of customers even take steps to continue supporting their favorite brands. One of the roadblocks in the way of rewarding customers is when an e-commerce business does not have a loyalty program. However, that doesn’t make it impossible to get back to customers with special offers.
While most loyalty programs work with points based on customers’ activities, there is nothing like a simple token of appreciation that comes as a surprise. Some retailers find it tough to align their business models with modern loyalty programs and end up losing valuable customers.
7 Ways to Reward Your Loyal Customers
Small businesses demonstrate the best examples of how to reward loyal customers through value sharing. Getting to know the customer – a tradition commonly seen in brick and mortar stores of the previous decades, is quite an effective way to go about your rewards program.
Retailers that understand the preferences of customers are naturally able to offer personalized rewards. More than 87% of customers say that they are open to having their details tracked in exchange for personalized rewards.
Here are 7 ways to reward customer loyalty that work with any business model.
1. Be consistent in engaging your customers
When it comes to business, consistency is the key to building strong customer relations and brand loyalty. Customer relations are not limited to providing support over a phone conversation or sending payment receipts via email. Like any other entity, customers also want to be acknowledged. When shopping through online retail platforms, they expect the feeling of interacting with humans, not machines.
Rewarding loyal customers starts with consistency in engagement regardless of the medium through which they are interacting. For instance, when a customer is redirected from one call to the other just to resolve a basic query, they are clearly not getting enough attention. This kind of inconsistency is the killer of businesses in e-commerce, as customer relations are all that matter in the digital world.
Today’s customers are highly observant and picky when it comes to choosing brands. Anyone can utilize the power of Google to compare products, prices, and even get an idea of the quality of customer service. Now more than ever, consistent engagement and quick delivery of services take one retailer ahead of its competitors.
In order to acknowledge and reward loyal customers, businesses must focus on delivering exceptional services rather than simply selling products. This can be achieved by keeping in touch with a customer from the moment they reach out to purchase a product till the time they have it delivered to their doorstep.
2. Make highly personalized offers that they’ll love
What is the most basic consideration while designing a loyalty program?
Personalized services. Online platforms that do not have great customer service often tend to leave out the part where they have to ask for customer feedback and improve services accordingly.
E-commerce platforms and mobile shopping apps are designed to show personalized suggestions based on what the customer has bought previously and what is already in their cart. The same goes for customer loyalty rewards. Customers expect to be recognized by brands on e-commerce sites, and showing them some appreciation is quite easy. It can be as simple as sending personalized ‘thank you’ cards or sending a product that the customer buys frequently for free.
3. Get feedback from your customers
According to research, It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one bad experience. Clearly, retailers need to steer clear of bad customer experiences. One of the key factors in delivering good customer service is knowing whether customers are happy with the existing products. Loyal customers always appreciate being asked for their feedback, especially when they know the brand will take steps to improve customer experience.
Sometimes, customer feedback can include suggestions. Other times, a customer may say that a competitor is offering a particular product, and ask why your brand doesn’t. Either way, retailers can get an idea about the areas they need to improve.
In order to get feedback from customers, e-commerce businesses can send survey forms to loyal customers. The only thing to ensure is that the forms are straightforward and add value for customers. Numerous businesses fail to meet their customers’ expectations just because they are unaware of how the customer feels about their service. Taking input from customers allows e-commerce businesses to move in the right direction and stay ahead of their competition.
Feedback can be taken through phone calls at first, and the brand can also create questionnaires based on the earlier suggestions provided by high-spending customers. Customer feedback is not only necessary to reward your loyal customers, but also helps improve customer retention by enhancing brand experience. Most importantly, it makes them feel that they have a say.
4. Offer an early-access program to loyal customers
Early access programs involve delivering products and services to customers before the actual launch. A similar approach to getting feedback from customers, early-access programs make customers feel special as well as make way for future sales. Once a customer gets hands-on experience, they are more likely to give word-of-mouth recommendations – making this an effective marketing tactic.
Delivering something exclusive is clearly a great way to reward your loyal customers. Exclusive items can come in the form of products that are yet to be launched, which also lets the brand know whether the product is going to be successful. Tech giants like Google use this tactic when they offer customers a chance to use the beta release of their new product. E-commerce businesses can offer early access to upcoming products by developing a program where loyal customers can register and be the first to know about new services.
5. Give away free items with multiple purchases
One of the most successful methods of encouraging customers to make repeated purchases is buying one, get one free. Given the quality of the product that is going for free is not too low, this tactic is time-tested to improve customer retention. Sending gifts to customers should not only be limited to the holiday season.
Appreciating customer loyalty is something that can be done at any time of the year. For instance, an online restaurant service can send free desserts of the customer’s choice along with their order to make them feel recognized. Some businesses misunderstand the concept of sending out gifts to customers and use leftover items like mini flashlights or USBs for this purpose. However, these items are not necessarily what customers look for, and definitely not personalized.
6. Offer a paid VIP membership
VIP membership, as the name suggests, is something that is limited to a select group of customers. Offering a paid VIP membership to loyal customers is a great way to segment the most valuable customers while earning some extra bucks. A VIP customer experience should be the perfect blend of exclusive rewards and unique products.
After all, you are asking your loyal customers to pay for it. Paid VIP memberships are seen mostly in the fashion retail industry, where designers offer access to bespoke items as rewards for loyal customers.
7. Recruit new customers by offering a referral bonus or reward
Who knew loyal customers can be used as a source for acquiring new ones?
Enter referral bonuses. Although some may consider bonuses as a very ordinary way of rewarding customers, they can come in handy if used the right way.
Bonuses do not always have to be big, but they need to be offered in a clever way. For instance, small discounts can be provided for the first customer referral. Then, depending on the scale of your company and your referral program, you can set up a more structured approach to reward your loyal customers based on referrals. Customer acquisition costs businesses big bucks. This entails that if a new customer is acquired using referral bonuses, both the customer and the retailer are happy.