In this rapidly changing retail environment, accelerated by lockdowns and store closures, the customer journey has transformed dramatically. In particular, companies are contending with much longer sales cycles and greater dependence on digital. These changes could very well be part of a permanent shift that will reshape the customer experience (CX) as we know it.
I think it’s fair to say that the subscription economy is certainly here to stay. Gartner, Inc. found that 70% of organisations have already deployed or are considering deploying some sort of subscription service. That means 7 in 10 organisations are no longer looking at one-time sales or repeat purchases but rather an ongoing relationship that needs to be continually nurtured. In this article, I will explain the three strategies that can help brands create a subscription loyalty programme.
Serving rather than selling
With the subscription business model now appearing in almost every industry, it’s time to examine how companies can better create a loyal subscription programme by delivering a streamlined, effortless experience for those engaged users at every touchpoint.
After all, the rise of the subscription economy has fundamentally changed the dynamic between buyers and sellers. For sellers, it’s no longer about winning a bid or making a one-time sale. Brands have to continually earn customers’ loyalty to keep growing their business. Because buyers can cancel their subscription at any time, organisations now need to prioritise customer experience and focus on serving rather than selling.
Developing your customer loyalty model
Here are three CX strategies companies can leverage to successfully create a subscription loyalty programme:
- Putting focus on service
Focus on service first, and sales will follow. In a subscription business, your goal is not only to sign up a customer but keep them over time. In fact, most companies don’t see full payback on their customer acquisition costs until the second year of a subscription. As a result, the customer experience after the initial sale becomes even more important, as it sets the stage for user retention. For brands, this is an excellent moment to create a subscription loyalty programme and get users on board.
However, balancing a “customer-first” approach with a “sales culture” across the company is sometimes a difficult task. Some businesses believe a sales culture should focus only on maximising revenue. Nevertheless, the key is to ensure that employees are focused on delivering value in every customer interaction with a positive attitude and a kind word. You should never pass up the opportunity to thank your customer for doing business with you.
Most companies that succeed in a subscription model have figured out how to make every interaction valuable and leave their customers with a smile on their face. When a company does this well, customer loyalty is high, and the contract renewal is very likely.
It can be challenging, though, to always know how to add value to every interaction. This is where digital CX technology can fill the gap with integrated playbooks, suggested knowledge articles and AI-powered assistants for putting the right information into the hands of sales and service reps at the right time.
- Aligning organizational efforts
Customer experience is not a result of one interaction with a department or a single individual. Instead, it’s formed through a kaleidoscope of experiences with a brand — from initial research to purchase and ongoing support. Yet in many organisations, we still see marketing, sales, and service teams still work in silos. They don’t have the same success metrics or even collaborate regularly. As a result, these departments struggle to align efforts. Unfortunately for them, only a unified effort is what improves the customer experience.
One way to align efforts is to provide agents with access to a consolidated buyer’s journey. This integrated view shows the most recent interactions, such as which emails have been opened, which links were clicked, and which self-serve actions were taken. This holistic view could provide the context needed to resolve issues quickly and put the full context of the customer experience front and centre.
When a company chooses a CX tech stack, it’s imperative to have a fully integrated marketing, sales and customer service solution. The best CX tech stacks come from one vendor, with all the data and processes integrated worked out ahead.
- Anticipating your customers’ needs
To truly serve customers, you need to stay constantly connected to them. Just as a car with GPS knows where the driver has been and where the vehicle is headed next, you need to understand exactly where customers are in their journey with your company. This approach enables organisations to anticipate and fulfil users’ needs even before they realise they have them.
When customers call the contact centre, visit your website and open emails, they’re providing you with valuable insights. Customers are leaving a digital trail everywhere they go, but few companies today are fully connecting these dots to correlate this data and surface insights that could help them pinpoint customer needs.
This is where innovations in time-aware CX can come in. Instead of looking at what stage of the buyer’s journey the customer is in right now, there is an opportunity to look holistically at the full scope of experiences: where customers have been, how they’ve responded to agents’ questionaries, and what they need next. To accomplish this, companies that are building a modern CX tech stack should prioritise time-based analytics and artificial intelligence as part of their solution.
Serving customers in the subscription economy is all about being focused on customer life-long. At a time when customer journeys are in upheaval, most of us would gladly trade a one-time spectacular experience for a world of effortless interactions. Companies that support their customers and communities in a real and authentic way will likely see dividends in the post-Covid-19 economy.