For leaders to make smart decisions about who the best, most loyal and most profitable customers are, they need to understand the makeup of the customer population. This often means creating special loyalty programs, elite experiences, and special perks to maintain the top 1% of customers.
How do you gauge customer value?
Airlines have recently taken to creating secret, invitation-only loyalty programs for their most valued customers. But how do they define “most valued?” These might not actually be their brand advocates, or even those who take the time to express any appreciation for good service.
Flyers who pay full-fare and travel several times per week are invited to enjoy special perks such as chauffeured rides to the airport and private check-ins. Such perks are out of reach for most of us, so we look longingly on at the way the special passengers travel.
Herein lies the rub.
Many organizations, especially airlines, admit how critical it is to keep this segment happy. Without this top tier, much of the revenue is gone. However, it’s never easy for a customer to get there. So how can organizations use these programs in a way that keeps this top tier happy and loyal without alienating or confusing the 99% of customers who might become part of this elite group in the future?
Word of mouth can have a huge impact on a brand’s image, thanks to social media, so disappointing one customer from the 99% can result in consequences these brands might be prepared for. One disappointed customer can create quite a stir, as this British Airways customer did when he paid to promote a tweet about his rage.
Ignoring the little guy in favor of the elite can mean big trouble for your brand.
It’s time to start learning from brands who are showcasing their customer experience early and often, so the majority of customers see what is in store for them and begin to build loyalty.
A few of my favorite examples of how brands are getting it right:
1. Welcome everybody
The Omni Select Guest loyalty program offers a unique and simple perk immediately upon signing up. Select Guest members are offered free coffee or tea delivered to their room each morning. This is a simple gesture but goes a long way. The perks get better once the member moves into the next tier, but this simple gesture of immediate gratification for showing an intention for loyalty is a show of good faith from the brand to the customer. Instead of forcing the 99% to “prove” themselves for any perks, this is a way of inviting them to continue with the program.
2. Personalize the experience for all customers
Loyalty is earned by brands that personalize and deliver a meaningful experience for customers. Creating ways to address customers by name, for example, is a direct way to treat each customer as the important part of the business they are. Recognizing your customers this way can help them feel connected early on.
3. Show the 99% they matter
The 99% of your customer base is made up of the 1% of your future. Regardless of segment, or customer spend, or even customer lifetime value, it’s imperative to treat all customers, future customers and former customers in a way that lets them know they matter.
Tech fashion retailer HEX has employees send hand-written thank you notes to customers, and this practice is heralded as one of the keys to their success. Sending a thoughtful thank you note to a first-time customer could be what makes them loyal for life. Beyond that, that customer will tell others about their experience.
Helping customers get to the top by creating incentives to get there, and showing them they matter along each step of the journey, can help you turn that 1% into 2, or even 5%.
How do your customers become part of your elite? Do they have to do all the work to get there?