How has the Pandemic Changed What Customers Expect from a Loyalty Program?

How has the Pandemic Changed What Customers Expect from a Loyalty Program?

The pandemic changed industries across the globe, and customer behaviour altered drastically. As stores closed and people spent more time at home, online shopping became a crutch for many of us to lean on.

A small treat or big online haul was our go-to way to pick ourselves up after a long isolating day. Brands reshaped their customer loyalty programmes to adhere to the changing climate of the pandemic era.

Forrester found that, in a survey with more than 4,600 US adults, two-thirds said instant discounts are more valuable than loyalty schemes. Customers are after simplicity and quick discounts they can use at the checkout. Too many rules, games and points systems only complicate the system and deter customers from using loyalty programmes. We want to browse the items, click, discount, buy and receive them as quickly as possible. There’s no time for complicated loyalty programmes – even in social isolation.

Customer loyalty changed massively because of covid-19. Many people were left in economic uncertainty as offices closed, and businesses took a hit. However, online business continued to thrive, and the US Census Bureau reported a 31% increase in sales in the first quarter of 2020. Customers started to value loyalty programmes and any discounts they could get their hands on. Customers needed entertainment and small pleasures in the pandemic era, like online shopping, but had a less reliable income stream.

Many people were uncertain if they had a job to return to, and a predictable income felt like something of the past. In a time of uncertainty, customers craved reliable and convenient products and services that ease the struggles of lockdown life. 

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There were four key pillars to customer loyalty during the pandemic. Loyalty programmes need to focus on these pillars to acquire a loyal customer base that will repeatedly purchase products from the same brand. As the world reopens, brands need to continue to harness customer trust and loyalty into the post-pandemic era.

Authenticity is key to customer loyalty. Customers want to invest in a brand that puts their customers over their need for profit. Instead of capitalising on the current climate, brands should make changes that benefit everyone and adhere to their target audience.

Brands should contribute meaningful value to their customers through covid safe policies and respectable values. Companies should focus on building trust with their current customer base – over trying to recover from the economic damage of the pandemic as quickly as possible. A strong customer base is a sustainable source of income – compared to a rushed recovery plan. Flexibility is also key, and brands should adapt their loyalty programmes to the ever-changing behaviour of their consumers.

Authenticity, flexibility, optimism and contribution are the four pillars of a successful customer loyalty programme. 

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