Loyalty programs have become fully omnichannel; it’s a win-win-win!

A true “omnichannel approach” is achieved when the three key pillars of customer loyalty management – ​​availability on demand, breadth of choice and ease of use – become channel independent.

The boom in India’s digital economy over the past decade has completely changed the way we think, work, consume and engage. Data, internet access and all it has to offer has become extremely affordable today. Having quick, easy and inexpensive access to the Internet has fundamentally changed our socio-economic behaviors. It had a profound impact on us as a society.

It is therefore no surprise that global brands see India as a huge opportunity and are moving quickly to bring their products and services to the country.

Additionally, this shift has recalibrated customer behavior and the relationships people have with companies, brands, and their products. Customer expectations have increased by leaps and bounds. It is both a challenge and an opportunity for former players and young challengers alike.

A few years ago, if one had to change bank partner or mobile operator, it was a tedious task and the discomfort of the transition prevented consumers from making this change. This, however, has changed today.

Additionally, the rapid growth of e-commerce and direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels, along with increasing customer purchasing power, are continually disrupting traditional sales and customer engagement models. The customer experience is now omnichannel. This, in turn, has led to a big change in customer loyalty and loyalty and reward programs.

Availability on demand, breadth of choice and ease of use are now the three pillars of customer loyalty management. And, when these three become channel independent, it means that a true “omnichannel approach” has been achieved. Brands and businesses that have been able to actively build on these pillars have seen not only better customer retention, but also increased customer lifetime value.

At the same time, redesigning the customer loyalty space is not a one-sided tale. As customer expectations evolve, brands and businesses are also learning how to leverage loyalty to promote specific customer behavior.

So how has this changed customer loyalty?

Customers have gone from buying only online or in physical stores to finding products where they are or on the channel that suits them best. Loyalty programs that have focused on physical rewards and experiences, without embracing digital rewards, have lost out.

We see this change unfolding rapidly, as physical goods now account for less than 10% of global trade – a change that has occurred over the past two years, while digital rewards penetration has increased by more than 80% over the same period. period.

It is also imperative to understand that an omnichannel loyalty program does not just mean that we use a combination of online and offline reward options bundled together. It means creating a program that can offer your customers the same ease, flexibility, breadth of choice, and customer satisfaction, regardless of purchase channel.

Now let’s talk about how an omnichannel loyalty strategy has expanded the customer base for brands and businesses. This was achieved through a two-pronged change in approach to customer engagement.

First, to provide a higher level of convenience and customer satisfaction, businesses that were traditionally physical have adapted and moved online. Second, with the development of web and mobile assets, they have been able to engage and activate a digital-first or digital-only audience, including Millennials and Gen Z – who make up a large portion of the consumer base today. of a brand in all sectors.

Our customers, including those in BFSI, Pharma, Manufacturing, etc., have learned that their growth, since 2015, has resulted in a decrease in the average age of their customer base. They quickly understood that they could no longer be satisfied with a simple digital presence. They need a customer experience and retention strategy rooted in digital-first behavior.

It should also be noted that a rewards program is not limited to online purchases and e-commerce vouchers. Changing consumer behavior means that these brands have increasingly started to include OTT and music streaming/podcast subscriptions, online F&B ordering, access to exclusive online communities, etc., in their rewards offers.

Finally, a digital loyalty program is not only a boon for the customer, it is a major asset for companies and their brands, thanks to the data and information it provides, not only for them, but also for their partners.

This insight has enabled organizations to better understand customer behavior and helps them reward their customers in real time, regardless of where they have made their purchases, while providing greater choice and flexibility. in choosing the rewards they want. It’s a win for customers, brands and businesses, and a win for their reward partners.

I look forward to seeing how customer loyalty will take shape in this decade as choice, flexibility and convenience set new benchmarks.

(The author is the COO of Accentiv India)