Today Groupon launched the first phases of Groupon Rewards, a new platform that tries to provide businesses with a way to build customer loyalty. Groupon Rewards’ release comes amid concerns from merchants that Groupon customers demonstrate no loyalty to the businesses offering deals.
What Groupon Rewards Does:
Groupon users who spend a merchant-determined fixed amount (at that same merchant) can earn a Groupon Reward, providing a deeper discount than a regular Groupon deal. For example, after spending $50 or $100 at a business over time, a customer might get a Groupon Reward to spend $4 and get $20 worth of food.
How Groupon Rewards Works:
Groupon Rewards are tracked using user credit cards. Once users have opted in to the program, they would need to consistently use the credit card which is already on file with Groupon in order to build their Groupon Reward. A spending goal, set by the merchant, can be met after multiple visits. Users will receive email or phone notifications after each visit alerting them that they just spent money at a merchant offering a Groupon Reward and indicating how much more they need to spend to unlock their Reward.
Pros & Cons for Businesses & Their Customers
While there is no cost for the Groupon Rewards program itself, TechCrunch indicates that “unlike a regular Groupon deal, the merchant will not keep half of the coupon amount. If the reward is a $4 coupon for $20 worth of goods, that entire $4 will go to Groupon.”
Businesses will now be able to track ROI – a feature that was previously unavailable through Groupon.
As the program is tied to the customer’s credit card, merchants and shoppers wouldn’t have to worry about a loyalty or membership card; however, in order for the program to work at all, customers must only use the credit card they have registered with Groupon.
How effective do you think this new program will be in generating repeat business? In generating loyalty? What is the difference?
How well do you think Groupon Rewards would work for businesses when compared to other loyalty rewards programs?
Few brands have created worldwide impact as significant as Disney. Just mentioning “Disney” elicits smiles from kids – and kids at heart – in virtually every nation.
So how do they do it?
Last month the Cincinnati Business Courier hosted a seminar called “Disney’s Approach to Brand Loyalty.” Featuring representatives from the Disney Institute, the seminar highlighted time-tested strategies to help businesses “retain customers for life” by identifying the “powerful relationship between experiences and how a brand generates superior bottom-line results through greater customer and employee loyalty” (bizjournals.com).
The course presented the following eight tips on how Disney keeps customers coming back for a lifetime:
1. Everyday “Little Wows” Build Up to Make “Big Wows”
Disney has learned that it is often the little things that make the biggest impact. Going above and beyond in simple, unexpected ways will help you win your customers’ hearts and their loyalty forever.
2. Create a Brand Promise
Disney’s brand promise is “Entertainment with Heart.” Those three words are the guiding force for everything they do and they fulfill that promise continually.
3. Control Your Brand
Being true to its brand in everything from theme parks, cruises, movies and TV series is what distinguishes Disney from any competition. They know who they are and what how they want to be perceived – and they do everything they can to control that image.
4. Don’t Focus on Just the End Result, But the Step-By-Step Experience
Disney never wants to hear “It was wonderful, except for…” It’s important to Disney that the customer experience is great from start to finish – from food and rides to parking and finding your vehicle at the end of a long day.
5. Put Your Employees First
It’s Customer Service 101: If your employees aren’t happy, your customers will feel and reflect that negativity. Disney knows that keeping its employees happy and treating them well will help to ensure positive customer-employee interactions.
6. Know & Study Your Audience
Marketing experts at Disney study its audience extensively. Then know that children are their primary audience, so windows in Main Street shops are low enough that the merchandise can be seen from a stroller. They know when to expect influxes of visitors from specific regions and stock items that would be most attractive to those individuals. Most importantly, they know who their high-value customers are and how to keep them loyal.
7. Create Strong Customer-Employee Interactions
Disney encourages employees to interact with guests of all ages. Your front line of employees has the most face-to-face interaction with your customers and can provide invaluable customer feedback to your marketing team. That interaction also fosters the strong relationships built between a business and its customers.
8. Learn to Say “Yes”
Disney doesn’t like to say “No.” Hearing “No” can completely dampen a customer’s otherwise perfect experience. Disney analyzed why it was saying “No” to a lot of requests (like “Can I get married at Disneyland?”) and what steps it could take to turn “No” into “Yes.” By making additional experiences available, Disney was able to increase its market and its overall customer satisfaction.
How has the Disney brand impacted your experiences with the company?
What other companies have similar approaches to brand loyalty? What is it about this approach that works so well?
In what ways can you apply – or have you applied – these practices to your own business to improve the customer experience?
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
They are not dependent on us. We are dependent on them.
They are not an interruption in our work. They are the purpose of it.
They are not an outsider in our business. They are part of it.
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
Many business owners, when trying to determine the success of their company, turn to financial reports for answers. And while these reports can show the “how” and “when” of success, they cannot provide the answer to the question most business execs regularly ask: “Why?”
Why did sales drop last month?
Why does this product consistently outsell all the others?
Why do we regularly lose customers after 6 months?
The answers to these questions – and to many other “whys” – are often found only through one source: the customers. Asking your customers what they think through surveys, phone calls and during in-store visits will help you not only understand your customers better, but it will also help you gain a deeper insight into how your company operates. And this is an insight you would never see first-hand. In terms of success, the perspective of your customers is the one that matters most. As Gandhi suggests, your business would not exist without your customers.
Reasons to Listen to Your Customers:
1. Loyal Customers Visit More & Spend More
Are you tracking your customers’ visit frequency and spend? By measuring customer loyalty over time, you have the ability to see how sales are directly affected by loyalty. One of the most effective ways of “listening” to your customers is through a loyalty rewards program.
2. Use Customer Feedback Data to Offer Customers What They Want
Data collected through customer feedback loops gives you the tools to target different problem areas in your business. As you actively apply changes based on customer feedback, your customers will not only realize that you will listen to what they have to say, but also that you care about – and want to improve – their experiences with your business. Customers want to shop at companies that appreciate their business and care about building solid business-to-customer relationships.
3. Strengthening Your Employee Base
Customers will offer both positive and negative feedback that will provide specific insight on where you need to improve operational processes and employee standards. Never forget that the most constructive feedback often comes from unhappy customers that just want to be heard. Use this information to develop improved training for your employees, empowering them with the knowledge they need to offer superior customer service. Help your employees take pride in their work and appreciate the importance of the customer experience.
4. Walking the Talk Builds Customer Trust
A company’s image is built upon the promises made through marketing and advertising efforts. However, customers will be quick to notice inconsistencies between how your company appears through ads and their own actual experiences. These inconsistencies will drive customers away. Use surveys and face-to-face conversations to gain a better understanding of where and what these inconsistencies may be. Then use that feedback to ensure what your customers are experiencing is as good as what you advertise.
5. Take Care of Your Customers – Or Someone Else Will
You are not alone in understanding the importance of the customer experience and the principles of loyalty. Every successful business is changing its company processes and standards to encourage stronger customer loyalty. Many businesses have made the mistake of trivializing the customer experience, realizing too late that their customers had no loyalty keeping them from moving to a competitor that openly appreciated their business.
Do you encourage customer feedback? Why? Why not?
What practices do you use in your business to ensure your customers’ feedback is heard?
What changes have you made in your business as a result of customer feedback? What was the result?
A good loyalty program consists of much more than simply rewarding your customers’ repeat business. In many ways, the repeat business generated by customer rewards is only scratching the surface of the loyalty and retention benefits available with such a program. A recent article published by ITC Infotech details how businesses can include customer-centric processes in implementing their customer loyalty programs to improve their tactical marketing efforts and the overall customer experience:
Collect & Organize Data
Adopt a customer loyalty solution that allows not just the collection of data but its organization into smaller and usable modules which will help in the accurate assessment of actual ‘market’ and locate existing and emerging trends. Organized data can be extrapolated not only with information on prevailing economic scenario but also to competitive landscape to fine tune a loyalty program that is future-proof. It goes without saying that the more detailed loyalty data repositories are, resultant reports generated would be more pointed making loyalty offers more attractive to its members.
Profiling Customer Segments
Psycho-social profiling of customer segments is integral to the analysis of the health of a loyalty program. Besides demographic segmentation, your solution should allow you to pull up data that displays attitude, behavior, spending and customer satisfaction. This helps in ongoing fine-tuning of the loyalty strategy.
Integrating Loyalty with Organizational Goals
Once insights are obtained, it is important to align them to organizational goals thereby drawing out a winning, fit-for-purpose marketing loyalty program. By identifying target groups and actionable touch points, it is far easier for organizations to get higher returns on loyalty programs. Research shows that when it comes to loyalty programs, one size does not fit all as customers are promiscuous by nature and thus heterogeneous in their preferences.
Adopt Tailored Tactics
While generic marketing is about broadcasting, loyalty marketing is the practice of narrowcasting thus its tactics have to be tailored to the needs of specific customer segments. These tactics may be based on regions, gender, spend, membership to specific social class etc. Specific customer insights go a long way in sharpening visual merchandizing, planning campaigns & promotions and ensure that spend on any media returns more bang for the buck!
By using properly segmented data collected through your loyalty program, you can ensure your marketing efforts are targeting the right people with the right message at the right time. Your customers are more likely to respond to offers that were intended specifically for them, rather than offers broadcasted to every individual in your database. And when your customers are responding to your marketing efforts at higher rates, organizational goals – and overall success – will be more easily achieved.
What other customer-centric processes have you found to improve your tactical marketing effort?
What methods have you tried for tracking the overall efficacy of your marketing efforts? What didn’t work? What worked best?