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LOYALTY 101: START WITH AN EXPLORATION: Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

Chances are when you first considered the implementation of a loyalty program, you might have thought it was a one-time deal. Maybe in 12-16 weeks, your program would launch and then you’d move on to the next company initiative. If that’s your thinking, it’s time for a reality check. This is about building an ongoing, long-term relationship with your customer. It will take your attention and require your diligence if you want it to be successful over the long haul. Welcome to the beginning of your loyalty journey.

Every good journey starts with an exploration. You need a reliable map, a reasonable forecast of the conditions, and you should probably know what the natives think about your company and your products. This is where you start with an open mind and allow yourself to truly understand the landscape and your customer. Put everything you think you know about your customer aside and let the information come in.

Gather Your Data

Start by gathering any customer data you have, then working with data analysts, slice and dice to understand what it tells you. Next step, formulate 3 key data points—what do you really want to know? Average spend, basket size, number of times they shop each year, who are your profitable customers. Once you qualitatively understand where you are, it makes it a whole lot easier to know where you want to go.

Ask. Then Listen.

Whatever form of research works for you, then dive in. Focus groups. Customer surveys. Secret shoppers. Lurk online. Monitor what’s being said on social media. It’s okay at this point to not jump into the conversation. Take this time to listen and learn. Your customers have something to say about you, and now is the time to listen. You will likely find that your boardroom thinks your customers think one way, when in fact, they think another.

Learn From The Best

Just like you looked up to your heroes as a kid, there are plenty of companies out there who are doing a great job at customer loyalty. There’s nothing wrong with learning from the best and using them as inspiration. Some standouts include: Starbucks, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, Amazon and Zappos. Sign up for their programs and see how they work. Discover what you like and what you don’t. And most important, think about what would make sense for your company and its goals.Customer loyalty is never a one-size-fits-all proposition — the best ones are always tailor-made.

Need help getting started? Customer Insight Group has a proprietary process, theLoyalty Navigator, that helps you evaluate the many approaches to loyalty and how each one can or can’t help you achieve your objectives.