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Why now is the perfect time for you to adopt a mobile-first approach to customer loyalty?

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Why now is the perfect time for you to adopt a mobile-first approach to customer loyalty?
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From the Editor: Our guest author this week is Nick Chambers, a Partner in the Customer Strategy Network has launched and managed a number of highly successful mobile loyalty programmes for retail & hospitality clients. Nick is Director of Norwood Hill Associates, a UK based consultancy specialising in building stronger relationships between customers and client mobile apps. In Part 1 of this article, Nick posed the question of whether Loyalty Marketing has lost its way. In Part 2, he asserts why “now” is exactly the right time to adopt a mobile-first approach to customer loyalty.

Why now is the perfect time for you to adopt a mobile-first approach to customer loyalty?

In Part 1 of this article, I outlined several aspects of how loyalty marketing programs have lost their way. To re-establish what a loyal relationship can mean between your brand and its customers, I’ve got some ideas for you in today’s article.

The mobile device is ideally suited to drive a new type of customer loyalty experience. In this new world order, mobile enabled programs provide customers with highly personalised experiences and, most importantly, deliver these within the context of their daily lives; time specific & location based.

This unique ability of mobile to combine both digital & real world experiences makes it crucial for shaping the new omni-channel loyalty picture. The real time, on screen, display of account balances & reward accumulation will certainly help the evolution of traditional card based programs. The real ‘game changer’ for mobile enabled programs is in the delivery of additional customer engagement opportunities; customer feedback, recommendations & reviews, social media links, location based content & offers, mobile payments & pre-ordering.

Why adoption of mobile based loyalty been so varied

Despite the clear benefits of mobile enabled programs, in reality, organisations continue to be wary of even the most basic capabilities mobile has to offer. The intimate nature of the mobile device means that care must be taken with customer contact strategies for mobile messaging. When a consumer opts in to receive push notifications it means they trust you to the point of giving you permission to contact them on their most personal devices. If your messages are therefore not relevant or timely you have the potential to at best annoy and, at worse, lose your best customers.

Delivering & measuring the results of communications strategies based on mobile app usage inevitably requires new ways of working. This comes with its own set of operational & marketing challenges and relies on significant commitment from an organisation both in terms of time and resource to get it right.

From a merchant perspective, customer identification with their transaction via the mobile device is complicated by the challenges faced in integrating mobile with different POS solutions, many of which are not supportive of third party integration. Similarly, some POS were never designed to take customer loyalty data into account. These platforms represent a complicated legacy that unfortunately does not support mobile real-time loyalty technology.

From a customer perspective, it might be natural to assume that a mobile loyalty service would be faster for the customer to locate in a hurry, thereby speeding up grocery queues. However, consumers still say they find it hard to locate digital coupons on their mobile phone at the point of sale. Not only does this have an impact on the customer experience, but it is also has implications for merchants who understandably are keen not to slow down progress at the checkout.

Mobile solutions therefore tend to be both sector and retailer-specific, still a far cry from the retail-wide acceptance that payment cards & some loyalty cards currently enjoy. Until the infrastructure is universally in place to process mobile loyalty transactions right across merchants, plastic cards and paper coupons will continue to be attractive solutions. At present, the adoption of mobile loyalty is led by those individual retailers whom have already invested heavily in the development of card based loyalty programs.

The new and growing demand for mobile payment acceptance has meant retailers, POS providers, banks & mobile operators are starting to collaborate to develop uniform, industry-wide infrastructure. Once in place, the catalyst for the mobile movement to really take off will be there.

In order to take full advantage, now is the time to start developing those engagement strategies around mobile, which can then be used to drive consumer behaviour long into the future.

Photo Credit: Xs and Os (license)

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