Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 18, 2019
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4min1251

New research shows that the public appetite for points and plastic is as popular as ever, with the majority of UK customers subscribed to at least one loyalty scheme.

According to Hawk Incentives’ The Loyalty Evolution Report which surveyed 2,500 people across the UK – a massive 82 percent of Brits are signed up to one or more programmes. Sixty-four percent are signed up to between one to five loyalty schemes, followed by six to ten (14 percent), and 11 to 20 (two percent).

The founding grocery godfathers’ of loyalty schemes still take the lion’s share of the market, with eight-out-of-ten (81 percent) consumers admitting to subscribing to a supermarket loyalty card scheme.

The UK’s burgeoning coffee shop culture is also driving consumer loyalty, enjoying 42 percent of the share of the market, with restaurants in third place with 33 percent. Least popular currently are fuel schemes (with only six percent of the population subscribing); technology schemes (eight percent); and sports retail loyalty and rewards schemes (19 percent).

The study also revealed that 62 percent consider themselves to be brand loyal. Contrary to previous studies which have painted younger shoppers as more fickle, the Hawk report reveals that Gen Z, Xennials, and Millennials say they stay faithful to the brands they like or love. Indeed 77 percent of 25-34 year olds claim to be brand loyal, along with 70 percent of 18-24 year-olds and 34-44 year-olds.

Meanwhile, 85 per cent of females are signed up to loyalty and reward schemes, compared to 76 percent of men.

Lack of interest was cited by a fifth (20 percent) of respondents as the main reason for not signing up. Seventeen percent cited a perceived lack of value. This is also a greater reason for men (21 percent versus 11 percent for females), as well as the older age group (24 percent). Older consumers aged 55-plus are failing to sign up over concerns about the use of their data, the report found.

Despite the rise of digital technologies, consumers would still prefer a physical loyalty card rather than a digital format. This is the case for both subscribers and non-subscribers.

Over half (58 percent) of subscribers and 30 percent of non-subscribers said something in their purse or wallet was preferable to a smart phone app or another digital platform. Perhaps not surprisingly, non-subscribers don’t really have a preference, but 46 percent said they would still prefer a physical card if they could choose.

Chris Ford of Hawk Incentives said: “The fact that only 15 percent of consumers don’t currently subscribe to rewards programmes shows loyalty schemes are still very much alive and kicking. However, it appears consumers’ perception of them may have shifted as people become more concerned about data in the Facebook era.

“What we do know is that brands that offer loyalty schemes which are relevant, offer choice, and are easy to access, create the best opportunity to engage an already receptive audience of active customers. Mining your data intelligently and sensitively to create targeted rewards and incentives will only make consumers more brand loyal and better brand advocates. Reassurance that their data is in safe hands is, of course, also key in the age of transparency.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 26, 2019
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3min655

Thirty-five percent of UK customers only engage with brands they agree with ethically, highlighting the need for brands to consider more than just products and price points.

A new report published by customer engagement specialist ELLO Media, Understanding Customer Expectations of Brand Loyalty Programmes, looks into consumer attitudes towards loyalty. It also found that 61 percent of consumers reported feeling the strongest connection to brands they use regularly, while 39 percent said this applied to the brands they aspire to use.

When asked specifically how they feel about the brands they regularly engage with, 38 percent of consumers said they only use brands that treat them with respect; 30 percent said that they feel like the brands they use are an extension of their personality; and 30 percent said that they only engage with brands that treat them as more than just a customer.

Michael Kalli, Managing Director of ELLO Media, said: “In the age of comparison sites and cost-cutting where there are a multitude of tools available to help find the best possible deal, consumers now expect to been seen as more than just a customer. This not only highlights the need for brands to make them feel valued with the rewards they receive, but also that brands must really understand their customers, aligning their offerings with the ethos and values that they hold.

“While customer expectations are evolving at an alarming rate, so is the development of data capture technology. This presents brands with the opportunity of gaining a better understanding of their individual customers than ever before, to ensure they are tailoring their loyalty and engagement strategies accordingly.”

Consumers were also asked how they feel when a brand engages them personally. Thirty-five percent said this made them feel like their loyalty was rewarded; 34 percent said it made them feel valued; and 21 percent said it made them feel like they were important to the brand. Being surprised with rewards was identified by consumers as their favoured form of brand engagement (70 percent), followed by surprise gifts (66 percent), and brands doing something out of the ordinary (57 percent).


Naeem ArifNaeem ArifApril 5, 2019
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8min1154

The focus of many marketers and CEOs is to ensure they are getting the attention of their target customers.

Most of them are spending most of their time and effort on this activity, without thinking about the other related activities. Once you have the attention of your target market and you have them highly engaged in all the content you are producing…what next?

Well hopefully, they will buy from you now; they will accept that you are good at what you do and you align with their own personal values. Up until now, it is all based on you issuing a promise to your prospect that should they follow-through and make that purchase, this is the outcome you will deliver.

I read recently a long article on HBR that stated “highly engaged customers will become loyal customers”, and it got me thinking: this is not necessarily the case. From our own real world experience, yes the two things are linked, but not dependent on each other. Some of the best marketing campaigns do not lead to long-term profit.

If we break this down, a customer is someone who buys from you and a loyal customer is someone who repeat buys from you. So no matter how engaged they are with your content and your brand, they may or may not repeat buy. They could stay engaged in order to receive the content or information because it is educational or amusing, but will they definitely maker another purchase?

This is a separate question completely and there are an increasing number of consumers out there who consume content, but do not buy.

A key realisation will happen at the point when they consume your service. This is the moment of truth, when we will really find out if you deliver on your promises. This is the point at which they decide – does the product taste as good as the packaging?

So far it has been an emotional connection, where they feel this is a good choice for the prospect to make. Now we will see the delivery of this promise. You can either fall short of the promise and maybe lose them, or you can fulfil that promise, in which case you will retain that customer for the future.

At this point, your content marketing is irrelevant; if the product does not match the packaging it will be a failure for your objectives. So no matter how good your engagement strategy is, you will not have a loyal customer.

So a few questions you may want to ask yourself:

  1. Does your team – who are delivering the service – match the passion, drive, and standards that your sales and marketing staff possess?
  2. Are you interested in this single transaction, or are you willing to treat the customer so well that they want to come back for more?
  3. What is that little bit extra or something different that you are giving that will make you stand out and be more memorable than your competition?

If you want to get loyal customers, then you need to ensure that your operations strategy is in line with your marketing. Building loyalty is not just about a single transaction – it is about many transactions. If you only measure your team on turnover or profit, then there is no reason for them to worry about repeat business. The reality is that the returning customer will firstly buy quicker, and secondly buy bigger or more than they bought last time, because they already know and trust you.

Your team should be thinking about what your customers value, not about how much they can squeeze out of them in this single transaction. I would rather give something that is fit for purpose today, because the customer will appreciate my honesty and come back to me for more. The multiple transactions will deliver more profit to me and so I am interested in the lifetime value of this customer.

A lot of people talk about this concept, when in reality, it is something that has be measured and delivered over a period of time. You need to be ready to see the benefits over time, because you will not see them in the short term. This is why it is important that you are prepared to measure your staff on things other than sales.

If you deliver on this, you could of course exceed expectations and deliver more than what was promised, which is even better. In such cases you will probably have an advocate on your hands – someone who not only returns to you, but actually tells others to also buy your product. Make sure your team understands your strategy here and follows it through.

So if you are thinking that engaged customers will always lead to loyal customers, think again. Consider instead that delighted customers will be what leads to loyalty. 


Ryan LesterRyan LesterApril 4, 2019
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5min558

One of the biggest challenges for retailers is not getting customers, but keeping them.

Loyal brand ambassadors are the backbone of growth and building long-term interest in a brand is no easy feat. Customers want personalised experiences and services that makes them feel as they are the most important client. A 2018 Bond Brand Loyalty Report found that 87 percent of people say they are open to having various details of their activity monitored in exchange for more personalised rewards and brand experiences. Consumers value convenience, time saved and flexibility and they will shop around for companies that can give them just that.

In addition, customers want white glove treatment should a problem arise. Even one negative experience can have a customer switch their allegiance to another firm. Efficient customer support has become a true competitive differentiator and businesses have an opportunity to stay ahead of the pack if they act quickly.

recent Vanson Bourne survey, found that less than 50 percent of customers considered their recent retail interaction to be excellent or very good, which gives retailers a new goal to meet.

With Customer Experience becoming a key success factor, businesses are turning to new technology solutions to help them quickly scale, improve responsiveness, and increase conversion rates. AI-powered chatbots, for example, are helping retailers be more responsive to requests and can even offer customers a concierge-like experience by providing personalised suggestions based on browse history, previous purchases, etc. While these chatbots are delivering highly intelligent self-service, they are also working behind the scenes for the customer service teams, gathering pertinent information about the customer and the question or issue to help the agents provide quick and personalised support from the get-go.

So how is AI helping retailers build brand loyalty today? Here’s just a few ways:

1. Offering 24/7 Service

Most online shoppers aren’t browsing during normal business hours. And when they have a question, waiting until the next business day to respond could mean losing the sale altogether. Chatbots are helping retailers be available to their shoppers 24/7 – answering the most frequently asked questions with ease and helping to ensure customers are getting what they need while they are ready to buy.

2. Creating a concierge experience

As AI continues to evolve, it’s starting to move away from handling simple questions and into acting as a customer’s personal assistant while shopping – providing personalised recommendations, reminding shoppers of sales to help them save, providing content to help with decision making, and much more. This level of proactivity means retailers don’t have to wait for the customer to engage, but can start building relationships by delivering information at the right time and in the right way.

3. Freeing up human agents

With all this talk about AI, what about the human agent? Individuals still play a pivotal role in the overall Customer Experience – but they are being leveraged in a different, more strategic way. Most customers hate waiting on hold – especially when they are having a problem. AI removes the need for customers with simple questions to clog up the human agent queue and allows customer service teams to spend more time with the customers that need them most. They are not only in a better position to resolve issues faster, but can spend the time to turn a sour experience into a positive one.

So are customers really onboard chatting with bots? The Vanson Bourne study also uncovered that more than half of customers agree that AI is changing Customer Experience for the better. I suspect this number will grow as the technology evolves and becomes more mainstream.

Today’s AI is all about delivering customers an intelligent and frictionless experience throughout their entire journey. When customers feel valued, they continue to come back again and again.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 26, 2019
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3min595

Almost half of UK customers (47 percent) believe it no longer pays to be loyal, according to a new report into consumer attitudes.

The research by ELLO Media found that out of 1,000 customers, 57 percent have switched providers in at least one market sector (utility, banking, mobile network operator, supermarket, fashion retail, in-house telecom, and media) in the last 12 months. More than one-in-five (22 percent) had switched utility providers; 21 percent had switched insurance providers; and more than one in eight (13 percent) had switched their in-house telecoms provider in the past year.

However, more than a third of consumers across all market sectors said they would be loyal to brands if they got true value for their loyalty. When asked about how they like their loyalty to be rewarded, respondents identified supermarket vouchers (53 percent), restaurant discounts (24 percent), and cinema discounts or tickets (19 percent) as the options they felt offered them the best value for staying loyal.

Michael Kalli, Managing Director for ELLO Media, said: “The findings of the report reflect that consumers will be loyal when they feel they are receiving real value for doing so. The fact that so many feel it no longer pays to be loyal and have switched at least one provider in the past 12 months shows that brands’ loyalty programmes simply aren’t delivering for their customers.

“Rapid developments in data capture has presented businesses with an incredible opportunity to learn more about their customers than ever before. Yet many brands still aren’t making full use of the technology on offer, leading to their loyalty schemes failing to meet customer expectations. With it costing five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one, it is in brands’ best interests to start improving their loyalty programmes in earnest.”

Consumers were also asked to identify which brands they felt most loyal to across the banking, insurance, utility, supermarket, fashion retail, in-house telecom, mobile network operator and media market sectors. The brands that consumers feel most actively loyal to in each market sector were identified as:

  • Media provider – Netflix (32 percent)
  • In-house telecoms – Sky (23 percent)
  • Supermarket – Tesco (20 percent)
  • Utility – British Gas (18 percent)
  • Mobile network operator – EE (18 percent)
  • Fashion retailer – Primark (17 percent)
  • Insurance – Aviva (14 percent)
  • Banking – NatWest (12 percent)


Ian GoldingIan GoldingMarch 15, 2019
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4min935

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, writes for Customer Experience Magazine offering expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering. 

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to editor@cxm.world. The best questions will be featured in future instalments.

Ian also leads the CX Professional Masterclass. Click here for details of upcoming Masterclass dates.

As a smaller business, should I consider customer loyalty schemes as part of my Customer Experience Strategy? Can they add value to my business, or is it common for customers to fail to engage with them?

I have always believed that if done well, customer loyalty schemes can be extremely effective as a way of maintaining engagement with those who interact with your products and services.

By “if done well”, I am suggesting that some are not!

Typically, the domain of large corporations in the travel, hospitality, and retail industries (although not exclusively), if the ‘effort’ is effortless and the ‘reward’ is rewarding, then a loyalty scheme could be a differentiating factor in the mind of your customer.

Personally, as a frequent traveller I will always look to fly or stay with an airline or hotel that will provide me with a benefit for using them regularly. To me, the reward of ‘free’ flights or hotel stays is a worthwhile incentive to keep using certain brands.

However, the loyalty scheme alone must only be perceived as just one touchpoint in the customer journey – if other things in the journey go wrong, I will gladly give up my perceived ‘benefits’ and take my business elsewhere.

There is absolutely no reason why the principle of a loyalty scheme should not be applied by smaller organisations – as long as it is sincere and commercially viable and a way of driving differentiation.

However, there is no sense putting a loyalty scheme in place if it will run your bottom line into the ground! Also, do not forget the ‘sincerity’ part of my statement. If a loyalty scheme is perceived by your customers as a way to try to ‘sell them more’ or spam them, then it may be better not doing it in the first place.




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