What is customer loyalty worth to your business?

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02_What is customer loyalty worth to your business-01I used to work as a Sales Manager at J. Crew, the booming apparel retail chain, and we were always in the business of making customers happy. J.Crew is known for both its unique approach to design, AND its devotion to excellent customer service.

There would be many times customers would call into our contact center and ask for overnight shipping on items. We would pull up their profile and check to see if they are loyal customers who had a high-spend over a certain amount per month, and if they qualified, we would go ahead and offer free overnight shipping as a courtesy. J. Crew’s call center software allowed the Customer Service Reps to capture customer analytics and track spend, which enabled employees to offer incentives and cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Also, we had a loyalty program where customers can easily sign up for a J. Crew credit card online and get 15 percent off their first purchase as well as earn rewards every time they purchased. For example, right now, J. Crew is giving out $25 rewards cards for every $500 you spend and loyalty customers get early access to select items before anyone else. These are just some of the many perks the J. Crew loyalty program has to offer. Customer loyalty is the Holy Grail for retail, because it helps the business gain more customers, which in turn, increases revenue and allows the business to rise above its competition.

In fact, according to Forrester, “improving customer loyalty is likely to be the top marketing priority for 80% of decision-makers at large organizations over the next 12 months” (The Forrester Wave™: Customer Loyalty Solutions for Large Organizations, Q1 2016, p. 3). Customer loyalty not only reinforces your brand image, but creates equity where a positive standing helps organizations grow.

How do organizations achieve customer loyalty?

Employees should be focused on giving the best customer experience, a process comprised of multiple touch points. It doesn’t start or finish at a store or with a call center, but instead, starts from the minute the customer becomes aware of your organization and is made up of various interactions, content, transactions, and communication along the way.

Any organization’s goal should be to make the customer’s overall reputation positive – once the customer makes their choice on a company, their on-boarding experience needs to be easy, seamless, and accurate and that’s where content solutions play an important role. For example, the way an organization communicates with a customer (and the way they communicate back) should follow the preferred method by the customer. If they want to have self-service options by retrieving and paying their bill online, the business should be able to supply that for them. Or if they want to have a personalized visit to the company’s website, the company should be able to recognize this and make sure you handle any inquiries quickly and efficiently.

Moreover, the organization must strive to understand the customer to the degree that they can actually provide advice. For instance, J. Crew Customer Service Reps used their analytics tool to determine the customer’s needs and wants – they were able to track customer spend and provide advice on what the customer should buy based on buying behaviors. With IBM ECM solutions, we can analyze the types of customer inquiries and spend, and continuously improve product and support information in order to make more accurate customer analysis.

If customer loyalty is important to you, I suggest you spend a few minutes looking at this example of an organization that has a customer loyalty problem, followed by several examples of how to easily transform the business with content solutions that close the gaps that impact customer experience.  You might recognize the same problems in your own organization. See the short webcast here and then see if you are giving your front-line people the tools they need to offer superior customer service that will grow your revenues and increase customer loyalty.

Senior Global Product Marketing Manager, IBM ECM

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