Loyalty is an overwhelming response to a great experience, and creates a strong bond between a brand and a customer, according to Jo Gaines, area VP retail and consumer goods at Salesforce.
At the Salesforce World Tour in Sydney Gaines spoke to Digital Nation on the importance of loyalty programs to retailers and consumers.
She said loyalty programs are much more than giving out a discount, it is about a relationship.
“I'm a consumer who wants a trophy of my relationship with a retailer, I want them to send me something. I want to buy something that I can put on my shelf and say that was something that Barbeques Galore gave to me because I'm such a loyal customer,” she said.
Retailers have to understand and help consumers to connect with the community as well as help them to connect with similar shoppers, Gaines said.
“I want to know other consumers and I want to go to events with them. I want to feel like I'm part of a connected community, not just someone who spends a lot of money with a brand every year and doesn't get a lot of recognition,” she explained.
Loyalty programs are evolving, as consumers are becoming wiser about what they should be entitled to for their loyalty, Gaines said.
“It is very easy for us to lose that loyalty and it can happen quickly, so getting it right is important,” she said.
“Everybody's talking about what is loyalty? What does it look like? And what should our loyalty program look like? How can we recognise people, where some people want a special service, they want, a concierge-type relationship with a retailer, where they make it quick and easy for me to buy that item or book that ticket,” she said.
Some of the most effective loyalty schemes are from airlines like Qantas Frequent Flyer or SkyMiles. Gaines said the most effective programs go beyond just offering a discount. She used a personal example of her bank rewarding her for being a loyal customer.
“My bank sent me a $200 voucher to say thank you for your loyalty and thank you for being a home loan customer. [The bank said] ‘here's a voucher so you can go and buy an appliance for your home.’ Now I look at that appliance and recognise it’s from my bank,” she explained.
Gaines said in the future retailers could work together and create a loyalty group, similar to airline loyalty partners.
“There's a lot of talk in the market about loyalty programs and we'll start to see some different businesses teaming up as well, and creating loyalty groups. Where you can shop with many different brands and benefit from those brands. There is a lot of innovation coming in the loyalty space,” she ended.