Customer Loyalty: Earn It Day by Day and Session by Session
There was a time when delivering the best product or service was enough to inspire strong, sometimes life-long customer loyalty. That’s changed. In a world of endless options and limitless distractions, loyalty has become an active choice that customers make with every brand interaction.
(l-r:) WeWork’s Victoria Taylor and Sports Illustrated’s Krys Krycinski during the Loyalty By Association Panel
That change was the focus of a discussion during the inaugural LTR conference earlier this month between Ben Leventhal, co-founder and CEO of Resy, WeWork director of digital community Victoria Taylor, and Krys Krycinski, head of product at Sports Illustrated. Loyalty means reserving your time, energy, money, and passion for something, Taylor told the audience during LTR’s Loyalty By Association panel overseen by Siegel+Gale CMO Margaret Molloy. “It’s making that conscious choice to reserve a resource for one particular thing.”
Mobile has made it possible for brands to build personalized relationships with their customers on a massive scale, but it’s also made true global competition even easier. Customers can now order a product from halfway around the globe if they don’t like the selection in the store they’re standing in. That puts a lot of pressure on brands to continually deliver superior experiences that will convince customers to become and stay loyal.
(l-r:) Krycinski and Resy’s Ben Leventhal
At Sports Illustrated, ongoing customer loyalty is earned by acting on the feedback they receive from their most dedicated audience members. You can’t just create a product for a community and expect them to embrace it, Krycinski told attendees. By focusing on responses from these already loyal customers, the Sports Illustrated gets invaluable feedback on their brand experience–and, when they get something right, these superusers let the rest of their audience know. “Passion is contagious,” Krycinski said.
One thing that every brand needs to pay attention to when it comes to customer loyalty: their unique story. “There’s a tremendous renaissance happening around storytelling,” Resy’s Leventhal said. “The platforms we have to tell stories today are getting better and better.” And that creates a major opportunity for marketers to use the tools at their disposal–advertisements, mobile messaging, email, social media, and more–to connect emotionally with their customers, deepening their brand investment. “Telling a great story is imperative to win the hearts, minds, and future wallets of our customers,” Molloy agreed.
Siegel+Gale’s Margaret Molloy
Ultimately, loyalty goes both ways. “Leaders of great companies are thoughtful about loyalty,” Molloy told the audience. “Both the loyalty they can inspire and that they can show.” When customers engage with an brand, whether it’s through an app, on desktop, or in person, they’re investing some of their limited time and focus. The experience that they get in return impacts their willingness to invest more. Brands can show loyalty by respecting that investment and working to ensure that it’s not misplaced.
“Loyalty isn’t just a point in time,” Molloy said. “It’s an ongoing connection to brand.” And nurturing that relationship will be a major undertaking for brands going forward.