6 Ways To Elevate Your Customer Loyalty Strategy With Data

Brian Cantor

Loyalty hinges on an organization’s ability to make customers enthusiastic about entering into a relationship with the business.

To make this happen, a business must know exactly who its customers are and exactly what they want during the customer experience journey. Based on that insight, the organization can create tailored experiences and customized offers. As customer demands change, the business must quickly and sufficiently adapt.

Each of those obligations hinges on data. Data, indeed, is the heart of any customer loyalty program.

Loyalty is far too reliant on personalization and precision for guesswork. “Best practices” can yield a great core experience, but they cannot create the degree of personalization required to truly elevate customer relationships. They can yield an experience that is generally great for most customers but cannot produce one that is optimal for all customers at all times.

By properly leveraging data, an organization can positively inform its “organic” and “deliberate” loyalty approaches. It can create more meaningful connections, which in turn drive more engagement, more wallet share, more market share, and more protection against competitors.

Leveraging data to drive customer loyalty hinges on several steps.

Complete a data assessment: Not all organizations have especially robust, actionable data programs, but all are collecting some information about customers and customer experiences.

Auditing this data will reveal existing weaknesses in the process. It will also reveal the intelligence the organization already has about its customer experience journey. This insight will allow the organization to make “quick fixes” as it invests in a data overhaul.

Key questions to ask:

  • How are we collecting customer data?
  • What kind of insights are we collecting? What conclusions can we draw from those insights?
  • Are we collecting data from across all touch points?
  • Are we, on the backend, able to communicate and/or access data across all touch points?
  • To what extent is data driving strategy?
  • What is preventing data from playing a bigger role in driving strategy?

Achieving integration: Rewards programs should be "integrated" across all channels. Data harvesting and management must also adhere to a seamless, omnichannel approach. Organizations should be able to track individual customers throughout the journey; that information should be readily available – and ready to be leveraged – to all corners of the organization.

Audience insights: A customer-centric, loyalty-oriented organization requires a granular understanding of its customers. It must know who they are, what they really want, and how they react to different experiences, offers and other stimuli.

Moments of truth: The organic loyalty approach hinges on a great customer journey. The journey must inspire enthusiasm from the customer. The customer should not simply engage with the business out of comfort or habit; he or she should do so out of confidence that the experience will be uniquely valuable.

To create a journey of this caliber – one that incites affinity from the customer – the organization needs to understand its moments of truth. Using a combination of analytics and call recordings, the organization must identify which aspects of the journey are most likely to forever win – or forever lose – customer support.

Conditional targeting: Deliberate loyalty programs hinge on precision. It is rarely enough to offer something “good” – the reward must be contextually appropriate.

This requires cognizance of where the customer is within the experience journey. This “where” can refer to a physical location. It can refer to a specific step in the buying or customer service process.

The point is that it makes clear the customer’s situation – and thus helps the business determine the offer that makes the most sense.

This degree of personalization goes a long way in achieving a more permanent degree of loyalty. The specificity of the offer will be hard for an outside competitor to match. The degree of personalization, meanwhile, will confirm the extent to which the business values the customer.

Predictive engagement: Once the organization understands its audience, the key “moments of truth,” and the conditional expectations at those moments of truth, it can start to deliver predictive and proactive experience.

It can engage customers – and issue offers – based on the customer’s next stop on the journey.

Not simply a sign of customer centricity, this process also entices behavior. The organization, after all, is incentivizing the customer to take the next step (see: spend more money) on the journey.

It also creates another wall of defense against competitors. Insofar as they lack granular insight into how the customer is navigating the customer experience journey, they are less capable of predicting the customer’s next step. They are thus less capable of delivering pointed engagement.