When it comes to business-customer interactions, it’s fair to say that the pandemic has changed everything. All of a sudden, traditional tactics that brands have used to engage customers and earn their loyalty no longer work. You can see proof of this everywhere, from a 40% increase in online grocery sales to an explosion of digital engagement with customers.
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that businesses need to reexamine their approaches to customer loyalty. Here’s why this is the case and how you can respond to the new status quo.
Pace of Change
Effectively speaking, the pandemic caused the retail industry to go through a decade’s worth of experience in a few months. As customers were no longer comfortable buying items in stores, demand for online grocery delivery saw a massive increase. Customers also started demanding a robust digital shopping experience with increased flexibility between purchase modes.
Almost overnight, retailers had to fast-forward their long-term plans by five or ten years to add new modes of operations like curbside pickup. This type of breakneck shift hasn’t been seamless, and many retailers are now struggling to stay in business.
New Buying Patterns
On the consumer side, most customers are rethinking their business patterns. One McKinsey study shows that 75% of customers have experimented with new brands, places to shop, and methods of shopping since the pandemic started. In this scramble, consumers were pushed out of their comfort zone and opened themselves up to new experiences.
For retailers, this shake-up has been both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, customer loyalty is now up for grabs. More and more people are discovering that, for instance, they like generic hand soap as much as their once-favorite soap brand. On the other hand, this leaves many retailers vulnerable to losing their repeat clients and failing to capture new ones.
How to Build Customer Loyalty
What effect do the above pandemic-driven trends have on customer loyalty? For starters, businesses now need to identify which of these trends are here to stay and how that will affect their loyalty programs. Businesses should also reexamine their definitions of ideal customers and how those customers can interact with their brand.
Not sure how to create the right customer loyalty model for your specific business? Start by asking yourself the following five questions:
- Has our target audience changed in the post-pandemic world?
- Do our current offerings still resonate with our target audience?
- What new digital and physical channels can we use to engage our customers?
- How can we cultivate new partnerships to augment our business objectives?
- How do we evolve our loyalty program without overreacting to trends that may not persist?