Satisfaction and Loyalty: New Research

by Jeannie Walters

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Today, Maritz will be announcing the results from a comprehensive study into U.S. consumer loyalty programs. The study, the first released by Maritz, aims to help explore the motivations of brand loyalty across six key industries: financial services, entertainment, retail programs, hospitality, grocery, and airlines. Thanks to early access to the findings and an interview with Scott Robinson and Bob Macdonald from Maritz, I thought I’d share interesting findings which may help organizations navigate the shifting landscape of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

satisfaction and loyaltyEnrollment Doesn’t Equal Engagement

A key finding was that while 71 percent would join more loyalty programs, the average member is already enrolled in 7.4. This means the engagement – how they actively interact with the brands – is not the same across all programs. This also means a HUGE opportunity to create satisfaction and loyalty experiences for those members. Offering nothing but points or discounts will not appeal to all people. In fact, we align with programs that appeal to our guiding, personal values. So if you value stability and I value change, we will have TOTALLY different expectations of how we like to be rewarded for loyalty.

Cross-Channel is Here To Stay; Customer Want More!

It wasn’t terribly surprising to learn that customers are expecting more via mobile. This report shows 73% of smartphone/tablet users would like to use their devices to interact with loyalty programs. I think this is  another no-brainer opportunity. Carrying plastic cards on our keyrings or wallets has become a burden. In terms of customer effort, Starbucks led the way with mobile ease for their customers. Others should follow. I personally believe there will be shifting expectations with how to reward the ways customers are using these specific devices. For example, if I’m using my tablet at home to browse, why not offer exclusive rewards for purchasing via that device for loyalty program members. This way, customers are recognized for their personal preferences.

Privacy and Personalization Battle It Out

According to this report, almost 1 in 4 members of loyalty programs have a specific privacy concern. Part of enrolling in these programs is sharing personal information. Across all demographics, there is a growing concern with privacy. For example, receiving benefits based on who you like or follow on Facebook was considered “Cool & Exciting” by 53% of respondents, but 65% of those under age 35 were ok with it. One size fits all won’t work. Another piece to consider – if I’m on Facebook and you’re on Google+, do we expect the same personalization and privacy issues? I would argue the different social platforms also set different expectations.

Value Alignment and Satisfaction Are Tightly Linked

Customers who believe the program has values aligned with their personal values have higher rates of satisfaction. However, only 40% of members believe the program is aligned with their values. It’s difficult to be a satisfied customer when you believe the loyalty program is promoting values you don’t like.

Loyalty Programs Should Start With Understanding Customers

The real bottom line here is that most loyalty programs focus on the rewards and not the customers. If I were in charge of a loyalty program, I’d pay attention to these results. Then I’d watch my customers carefully. Evaluating how they behave is just as important as hearing how they respond. Rewards that are meaningful go a very long way in the emotional bank customers want to have with brands. If the loyalty program is just another card in my already-stuffed wallet, it’s not meaningful.

One size fits all doesn’t really work for much. How can you improve the loyalty initiatives for your customers?

Photo credit: 24oranges.nl via Creative Commons license

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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