This past year has been one of the most stressful, challenging and exhausting years our world has faced in quite some time. Brands have struggled to stay engaged with their customer base and to grow their bottom lines. Some businesses have flourished because they were prepared, while others have been forced to downsize or, even worse, close their doors.

Looking deeper into 2021 and beyond, there is still so much that is unknown, but successful brands will deepen their relationships with their customers and will experience growth leveraging their loyalty programs and offers to their existing customer base. Consumers expect brands to have a finger on the pulse of their struggles and are resistant to being sold to by a brand that operates its marketing strategies in a vacuum, without considering the current circumstances.

Successful brands will focus on non-purchase member engagement activities such as redemptions, digital interactions, and virtual experiences. They will benefit in the long run with the ultimate reward of conversion. As we expect some pre-pandemic trends to continue, this pervasive virus has forced us to accelerate change and has brought about unexpected challenges to the loyalty and business environment. In response to the many new obstacles we face as a society, we at HCL foresee the emergence of several key themes in customer loyalty. They are Personalization, Social Journey Integration, & Friction Detection.

Personalization

Research has proven that customer satisfaction levels are higher when brands personalize the customer experience, and loyalty is no different. 91% of consumers said they would be more likely to shop with brands who recognize and provide relevant offers and recommendations, and 83% are willing to share their data to make this work (Accenture).

Consumers share that they are actively engaged in programs that are highly personalized and that make them feel recognized as an individual.

Studies have proven that consumers are willing to get personal with brands in order to experience a more personalized engagement. Brands that can leverage their customer data in a multichannel loyalty program are able to offer the most relevant promotions. They predict the next best action and cross-sell/ upsell the most relevant products or services to their customers. We expect many organizations will plan to incorporate personalization into their customer strategies this year.

For example, some retailers update their loyalty members on how many points they have acquired and what they will need to obtain a gift card. Many creative brands are also leveraging their historical data to send their customers a snapshot of their own journey with the brand over a longer period of time, detailing how many points they’ve earned and how much they’ve saved over the lifetime of the membership. These types of campaigns are wildly successful, resulting in more clicks, opens and other revenue driving engagements.

Social Journey Integration

Because the pandemic has significantly impacted the customer journey physically, we expect brands will seek to increase the integration of social elements into their loyalty programs. As we continue our work from home & socially distant lifestyle, likely, these changes are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

As businesses re-evaluate their customer journey mapping, there will be many opportunities for loyalty programs to be woven into the fabric of the customer’s social media journey. We full expect that the top loyalty programs will innovate by making their programs socially involved, beyond typical point transfer/gifting and social activities.

Friction Detection

With the increased pandemic induced demand on the attention of the consumer, brands have a small window to engage and delight the customer. If any part of the journey is plagued with confusion, struggle, or irritation, brands run the risk of complete abandonment. Brands will need to reimagine their loyalty program experience journeys to ensure that they have the visibility into any potential place of friction, along with the capability to solve it immediately.

Loyalty programs are at risk of losing members if competing programs have hassle-free experiences. The pandemic has lessened our threshold of patience, and brands will need to create experiences that are quick, streamlined and easy.

These are simply a sampling of the trends we expect to see this year. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Should your Martech stack be lacking in any of these areas, we would love the opportunity to help you solve for a solution. We offer several sessions as part of our presales efforts to help our clients plan for these types of initiatives.

Please reach out to learn more.

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