A solid customer loyalty strategy is one of the most vital aspects of customer retention. Creating one requires thorough planning, a deep understanding of your customers, as well as several trial and error processes. Now that you’ve finally nailed a tried-and-tested strategy and have successfully added new options to your loyalty program, COVID-19 suddenly happened. There’s no doubt that the pandemic has shifted shopping patterns, customer expectations, and the way customers engage with products and services. But one questions remains – has it affected brand loyalty?
We’re here to discuss how the pandemic changed the way customers shop and how your company can adapt to the market changes.
Product availability versus brand loyalty
At the wake of COVID-19, consumers began hoarding and stockpiling products such as vitamins, disinfectants, and other household staples to stay protected from the virus. Many e-commerce businesses tried to keep up with the demand, working around the clock to ensure availability to deliver customer orders.
With the increasing demand, companies added new sources and suppliers to meet consumer demand – a telling sign that consumers no longer care which brands to use as long as they’re available. Commonly out-of-stock products drive consumers to seek alternative brands regardless if they’ve been loyal to the brand or not. More buyers became more open to trying out new brands during the pandemic. The number one reason for this is product availability.
But the question is – is this enough to affect brand loyalty? Well, not necessarily. A study from Wharton School’s Baker Retailing Center and WisePlum found that brand loyalty is more focused on how companies stay transparent to their customers and how they deal with issues that truly make an impact on customer loyalty.
With this knowledge, what does your business need to take in mind?
- Practice transparency
During a pandemic, it’s important to remain transparent with your customers so that you and consumers are on the same page. Engage with customers through solidifying your social media presence in an effort to connect, not just to make sales. Use empathetic language in your platforms, craft uplifting messages, and back them with socially-conscious actions to help your customers with their current struggles.
- Focus on resolutions
If your business is experiencing stock issues, returns processes, or hard-to-navigate websites, focus on fixing the problem to avoid your patrons from harbouring feelings of resentment. Remember, even the most coveted retailers make mistakes. Having things go wrong is a natural part of the process when running a business during a pandemic. The key is to react promptly when issues arise. Be quick to respond and focus on resolving the problem at hand. There are always steps towards resolution and making these steps will make customers more impressed with your brand.
- Take control of the basics
As we’ve said before, product availability is not enough to destroy customer loyalty. But there are certain things businesses can do to step up their game when transitioning to a digital-first approach. Optimise free-returns, priority pick-ups, and seamless customer experiences. If customers have trouble in the ordering or delivery process, they won’t hesitate to jump to the next brand. But if your business can offer practical solutions despite the challenges of the pandemic, the more likely you’ll win over more loyal customers.
- Reassess your loyalty program
Unexpected scenarios call for a reassessment of your customer loyalty program. With a new normal in place, think of what your customers will appreciate more. What are your customers looking for right now? Is it added convenience? Self-care? Helpful solutions? Or do they want simple tokens of appreciation? Whatever it is, you need to make sure that your loyalty program is aligned with your patrons’ current wants and needs so you can guarantee customer retention.
Strengthen customer loyalty with Bartercard!
Indeed, COVID-19 shook the way businesses perceive brand loyalty. Despite the crisis, many companies have stepped up to answer to customers’ need by offering more socially distant solutions. By altering your strategies towards maintaining inventory and exceeding customer expectations, the more capable your business is to adapt to the changes without weakening customer loyalty.
If you want to learn how to build customer loyalty, consider joining Bartercard! As a Bartercard member, you can boost your business’ customer retention techniques by offering new options to your existing loyalty scheme. To learn how Bartercard can help your business, contact us today!