Today’s customer experience is everything, companies compete solely in the customer experience. Consumer expectations set the bar quite high for the customer experience that directly impacts brand loyalty.

As more and more brands begin to operate on an omnichannel level, traditional loyalty programs must intensify to meet customer expectations for a good experience. Successful omnichannel loyalty programs give members the opportunity to be rewarded for spending and engagement across all channels through seamless integration.

Rise in the omnichannel market

And that’s why omnichannel strategies continue to grow, and companies are increasingly spending their best to use these platforms. According to a study by Persistence Market Research the global retail omnichannel trading platform market was valued at $2,965.3 million in 2016, and is expected to register a CAGR from 19.9% from 2017 to 2025 to reach a market valuation of $14,987.5 million by the end of the forecast period in 2025.

Increasing consumer demand for advanced technologies and improving the mobile application experience are the two main revenue growth factors for the global omnichannel market.

In addition, according to the study, North America represented the largest market share in 2016 due to the growing need for omnichannel trading platforms. It also emphasizes that demand for omnichannel platforms is increasing in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America markets. Asia Pacific is expected to record the highest annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.6% in terms of value during the forecast period.

The importance of the customer experience

Understanding what customers want is critical to building meaningful brand connections. According to a Loyalty 360 study, 90% customers expect consistent brand interactions across channels. Similarly, loyal customers expect to be recognized for every action taken with a brand no matter what, how or where.

According to a study by Walker, by 2020 the customer experience will surpass the price and product as the key differentiator of the brand. How can brands ensure they meet customer expectations?

Brands are moving toward adopting an omnichannel approach to deliver convenience, relevance, and value to customers across all channels.

A successful omnichannel program will connect customers with a brand at all touchpoints seamlessly, without borders. It will go beyond one-dimensional discounts, offering, instead, deeply personal and authentic customer experiences that will generate greater engagement and spending among customers.

Omnichannel customer loyalty strategies

According to data from the Loyalty 360 study, most traditional customer loyalty programs are single-channel, card-based. They reward spending instead of rewarding for commitment. They generally do not reward the behaviors that lead to the purchase, nor reward in real time.

Omnichannel programs maximize cross-channel engagement, not through a single campaign, but through a series of continuous campaigns offered in real time. According to Aberdeen Group data, companies with strong omnichannel customer loyalty strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared to 33% of companies with weak omnichannel strategies.

Whether a company is upgrading a traditional loyalty program or developing a new omnichannel program, it’s important to follow a number of strategies.

Loyalty programs are based on the value

At the heart of changing customer expectations remains one that is constant: that customer interactions with loyalty programs are based on value. The definition of that value, however, has evolved from traditional “spend-and-get” programs to earning for every brand interaction.

Today, customers want to earn points for every purchase they make, no matter where the transaction is made or how they pay. They expect to be rewarded for sharing personal information with a brand and for engaging with a brand. They prefer personalized communications and access to relevant rewards.

No longer want a free item for every ten they buy, they prefer to have access to rewards that can’t be purchased with money and rewards that make them feel like a valuable customer. And they want the whole experience to be integrated and uninterrupted.

Omnichannel loyalty programs must provide convenience, relevance, and value for members, and according to Loyalty 360 out of those three, a number of techniques can be taken that can be integrated into loyalty programs and that will cause a company to competition: convenience techniques, relevant techniques and value techniques.

Convenience techniques

According to Loyalty, the main objective in this case is the rewards of members for spending and commitment. It can be done in two ways:

  • Simplify Expense Reward Strategy: Points earned by spending must be frictionless and seamless across all channels. This can be achieved through:
    1. Mobile payment integration, such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet, QR codes, and mobile app programs that integrate payment solutions, make it easy for customers to transact. One example is the Starbucks app that integrates with your Starbucks Rewards program. The app allows consumers to charge money to their mobile accounts, make payments and track and redeem their rewards from their phone.
    2. Neutral rewards offerings, today’s consumers expect the freedom to pay however they choose, and there are greater benefits of expanding their reach with neutral loyalty programs. Moving toward this approach makes it easier for buyers to receive the benefits of the loyalty program no matter how they pay for their purchases. For example, in Best Buy’s loyalty program, customers earn multiple points for every dollar they spend (in-store and online) no matter how they pay.
    3. Scan receipt for additional points, if there is a brand without a direct connection to the point of sale, allowing customers to scan their receipts to purchase the brand’s products allows them to really maximize their participation in the loyalty program by giving them the opportunity to accumulate points on each purchase across multiple retailers.
  • Facilitate Participation Reward: Allow members to earn points or other incentives to interact with the brand across all channels. This can be achieved through the promotion of check-ins on the websites, that is, offer points for registering on the web through mobile, or through the reward for social participation, that is, to have customers earn points because of their participation and n the company’s social media.

Relevance techniques

The main objective of the relevant techniques is to deliver the right message to customers, on the right channel and at the right time, through:

  • Gaining more information about customers: In order to deliver relevant experiences across all channels, you must understand customer lifestyle and behavior by capturing large volumes of customer data. The first step is to collect a wide range of demographic and behavioral data, before activating it with relevant marketing activities. To get this large amount of data, according to Loyalty 360º you can:
    1. Encourage shared information, which is to provide customers with an incentive for loyalty program members to update their profiles. For example, Zumiez gives loyalty program members additional points for updating their profile details, including phone number and date of birth.
    2. Encouraging social connection is to encourage members to connect their social networks with their loyalty program profile to help build a 360-degree vision. For example, TOMS Shoes awards points to members who connect their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Swarm/Foursquare accounts to TOMS’ My Passport Rewards loyalty program.
    3. Motivating you to take surveys, by incentivizing customers to take surveys, the company can motivate them to provide additional information and help the company improve its marketing reach.
  • Deliver personal experiences, based on behaviors and preferences: Brands with an omnichannel approach systematically collect data about their consumers across channels and platforms, and analyze data through sophisticated tactics such as machine learning and predictive analytics. Through these methodologies, they can predict future behaviors and create marketing experiences that respond to the wishes and needs of their customers.

Value techniques

The main objective is to go beyond discounts and create more value at each consumer contact point for members of a loyalty program, through:

  • Exclusive Rewards Offer: Invaluable rewards are a crucial part of the omnichannel loyalty strategy because they create a deeper connection with the brand, often through digital and physical touchpoints. This can be achieved by:
    1. VIP events, to make customers feel part of an exclusive community. Special guest-only VIP events are a way to pique interest in a brand. For example, Nordstrom invites senior members and a guest to a spa or dining experience along with a private autumn fashion shopping event.
    2. VIP access to online sales and exclusive offers, such as members of The Saks Fifth Avenue loyalty program, get early access to special sales, giving customers the ability to purchase must-have items.
    3. Limited Edition Rewards, to distinguish yourself from the competition, you have to offer single-edition or limited-edition rewards to generate greater brand affinity.
  • Reward customers in real time: Thanks to advances in the mobile space, technology has paved the way for the immediate redemption of rewards. Instant rewards demonstrate greater value for consumers and help maintain a high level of engagement. This can be done:
    1. Applying real-time discounts, for example with card upload programs that give customers multi-week promotions on different brands for the customer to take advantage of promotions and discounts.
    2. Rewarding with offers that are back in office, allowing cardholders to redeem their rewards in-store instantly.
    3. Using geolocation services, to identify a consumer’s location, allowing for greater opportunities for participation. This may include sending a coupon or offer, or rewarding consumers for an action they took for being near a specific location. For example, Pepsi along with Facebook, the Pepsi Pass app automatically awards points to members when they’re with friends who also have the app.