Contact Centers Give Your Customer Loyalty Program The Edge It Needs

by Susan Preiss in Loyalty Program Management, Susan Preiss

These days, just about everybody has a customer loyalty program. It’s become a vital touchpoint in the customer journey and for good reason: by some estimations the 12% to 15% of your customers who are loyal fans of your brand will make up 55% to 70% of your actual sales. By that logic, increasing the percentage of passionate buyers can give revenue a significant boost.

Internal marketing teams and fulfillment houses often have prime responsibility for an organization’s customer loyalty program, but an effective outsourced contact center partnership can make the program even more valuable to your customer and your brand.

1.) Manage the Program with Your Values in Mind – Regardless of the service level agreement, the best outsourced contact center trains their employees to embody your brand.

As with all aspects of customer service fulfillment, a good call center partner bases their training curriculum and processes on empowering agents to be a true extension of the client’s team. Your project launch timeline will need to reflect appropriate briefings so your contact center fully understands the function, goals, and value of your program:

  • How does your program work? Your outsourced call center partner needs to know the mechanics of your program as well as you do so agents can be effective advocates and problem-solvers.
  • What is the end goal? Every loyalty program has its raison d’être, its purpose for existence. Whether it’s to increase average customer lifetime or keep sales fluctuations to a minimum, you need a solid plan in place. And to properly measure and improve your plan, your contact center team needs to know how their work impacts that plan.
  • Why should customers want to use it? Offers and incentives need to be worth spending more money. If customers are rewarded with incentives as weak as Cracker Jack prizes, they won’t be interested. Agents have a unique opportunity to recruit your customers to the loyalty program. Training needs to ensure they understand and can effectively communicate the value proposition to your customers and Net Promoters.

2.) Streamline the Process – Timely rewards are the cement that holds a loyalty program together. If your rewards require shipping (as opposed to digital rewards,) you want to close any and all possible gaps to reduce fulfillment time to the bare minimum. Take a 360 degree view of all partners involved in your loyalty program and ensure they are playing to their strengths and remove any barriers to communication.

Are your fulfillment house and contact center able to communicate directly or at least through a single point of contact? Does your service level agreement hold both accountable for timely communication and reporting to one another? Is there transparency into shipping processes and status reports?– in other words, can your contact center agent see whether a reward has been shipped while your customer is still on the phone?

The other opportunity for streamlining lies in making sure you use your partners to play to their strengths. We have a client that relied on their fulfillment house for coupon and gift card distribution as well as fulfillment of physical rewards like backpacks. Timelines were slow and shipping was frequently backlogged by supply chain issues. By allocating responsibility for gift card and coupon fulfillment to the contact center team, shipping times across the board improved. Status inquiries on reward shipping were once a top call driver – and late shipments were having a negative impact on loyal customers. Making use of the contact center for gift card and coupon fulfillment improved timelines, added to first call resolution, reduced calls about shipping status and contributes to a positive, timely experience.

3.) Incorporate Feedback with Your Other Reports – Anyone who has ever worked with any contact center can vouch for the fact that we are data gathering machines. But that doesn’t mean we dump all that raw, unprocessed intel in your laps. Insightful, analytical contact center reporting delivers data that is accurate, relevant to the audience, and contributes to effective decision making.

The value in quality reporting applies as much to your loyalty program as to your service offering. It’s that feedback from our people on the front lines that keeps loyalty programs flexible.

Consider for example our flagship client in the food industry. Through them, we offer a dozen different types of loyalty rewards to customers. Yet instead of blindly offering rewards regardless of the demand, we can ascertain what customers want and crave. If we see that we’re issuing about 500 requests for one reward in a given month and just 15 requests for another, then the message is pretty clear: discontinue the underperformer and ramp up production for the popular product. Your contact center partner should be able to slice and dice your data down to the idiosyncrasies of your markets by demographic and geography, allowing you to fine-tune your program by segment and location.

Beyond reward popularity, an outsourced contact center can even track which elements of a loyalty program are most associated with customer complaints. Detailed notes are logged into the CRM which can be accessed by any agent connected to a client’s loyalty program. That way, we can determine any trends and quickly bring them to a client’s attention.

4.) Funnel Customers to Your Loyalty Program – Is an outsourced contact center handling your day-to-day customer service? If so, you can grow your loyalty program membership beyond what your in-store employees and customer word-of-mouth can do. In fact, customer service agents can help evangelize for the program regardless of the pain point that compelled the customer to call.

Let’s look a real world example. We handle the every-day customer service channels for a client in the infant nutrition industry. Our customer service agents receive calls that range in complexity from general inquiries about a product to issues with purchases. Most incoming calls have no direct connection to the client’s loyalty reward program. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be proactive and find out customers who might benefit from it.

Many of the questions our agents have been trained and empowered to ask can identify whether or not the caller would benefit from the loyalty program. By the time we’ve found out consumers’ buying habits and frequency of purchase, we know whether or not to recommend the loyalty program. And we do.

Of course, we gauge the situation first. Our agents know not to push a program on an unwilling customer, but instead act as matchmaker when the right factors align.

Sound like a lot of work? We won’t lie to you. It can definitely be painstaking, but the outcome of a good customer loyalty program surpasses all the sweat and effort. The beauty of it all is that you don’t need to shoulder the full management of the program on your own.

We have handled the full management of loyalty programs for plenty of brands, and for some of the biggest names in the food industry. If you want to attain the same level of success as them, reach out to your favorite Canadian contact center today. Blue Ocean can get you on the right track to make your customer loyalty program even stronger.

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