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Creating a Faithful Following: Retain Customers with Customer Loyalty Functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

“Customers are fickle.” “Customers don’t care if they switch to your competitor.” “Customers only care about their bottom line.”

The conventional wisdom says that with how technologically savvy and budget conscious shoppers are these days, customers have higher expectations and greater demands. And if a store doesn’t fulfill those demands, they have no problem hopping over to the competitor who can.

Now, this is certainly true. Customers want to get the best bang for their buck (who doesn’t?), and they want a quick, easy, painless shopping experience to facilitate it. And since the Internet offers a virtually limitless amount of retail choices to browse, customers can turn to whichever computer device that’s handy – mobile phone, tablet, desktop PC – and do some in-depth research with just a few clicks of a button. Knowledge makes for more discerning individuals –the 21st century shopper has instant access to that knowledge any time, in any place.   

So yes, customers tend to be a little picky about where they spend their hard-earned cash. But here’s a secret:

Customers want to stick with one company.

Just think about it: do you prefer having  a go-to store where you know you’ll get what you need, or do you prefer the search and struggle to find the right one? Maybe I’m not very adventurous when it comes to shopping endeavors, but I know I prefer the first option.  

In a report for Retail TouchPoints Magazine titled “SoLoMo And The New Frontier Of Customer Loyalty”, Nikki Baird, Managing Partner, Retail Systems Research (RSR) states,  “Customers are willing to be loyal to merchants, but it’s simply too easy for retailers to break trust with those customers through disconnected messaging and pricing across channels, and inconsistently applied policies across channels.”

Loyalty programs are a key strategy in motivating your customers to stay. Not only do they play on shoppers’ universal love for good bargains, but they also signal to your customers that you care about their business – so much so, that you’re willing to give them some special stuff. And if your company puts loyalty programs in place, then you also need the right loyalty management tools.

Staying Connected

But like Nikki Baird says, retailers need to be connected and consistent. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, companies are able to effectively manage loyalty programs all in one central place, which reduces confusion and misinformation across the organization. By seeing your loyalty programs, as well as the customers who are using those programs, you’re able to get a better understanding of what your customers are responding to – and how you can continue encouraging that response.

With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you’re able to set up a dashboard containing charts of all the loyalty program data you need. The data in these charts are real-time, so you always have an up-to-date, accurate view of loyalty program performance.

I’m sure the visual people (like me) will agree: the fact that Microsoft Dynamics CRM has dashboards displaying whichever data charts an employee needs is a huge bonus. With the ability to open up Microsoft Dynamics CRM and see an overview of data such as average sale by loyalty segment, sales by channel, top 5 loyalty program members, etc., you’re better able to measure how well a particular loyalty program is doing, as well as who is engaged in the program. And by getting that information in easily digestible, instantly recognizable charts, the faster you’re able to process it – and strategize.

Setting Up Your Loyalty Program

So, where to start? First, decide on how you want to structure your program. One way is to allow shoppers to opt in. Since customers like having choice and getting good deals, advertising that you have a great rewards program available will encourage participation. By guaranteeing to shoppers that filling out a loyalty membership form on your online store (or at your physical store) will lead to regular, or even occasional, exclusive special offers, you create a very persuasive offer for customers to stick around.     

Speaking of exclusivity, it goes hand-in-hand with a very common human trait – everyone wants to be in the cool kids club. Cater to this desire to be elite by offering different membership levels in your loyalty program, as well as different perks for belonging to each level.  For example, Gold members receive 10% off on their purchases plus certain offers, Platinum members receive 15% off purchases plus even bigger special offers, etc.

Allow shoppers to opt in to your loyalty programs. Also, set up different membership tiers, and offer corresponding privileges for members of those tiers, to create a sense of distinction and exclusivity. 

Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows you to create different membership tiers or award levels, providing the CRM users in your organization insight into each level of your loyalty program. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you can identify and name each level, set up the reward that each member receives from that particular level (such as if the level correlates to earning a certain number of redeemable points that can be applied to future purchases), and even purchase ranges for levels (like if individuals who purchase 1,000 items automatically make the Bronze level, those who purchase 10,000 items make Gold, etc.). By standardizing this information and making it accessible to all sales and customer service representatives, businesses are able to keep loyalty processes transparent and easy-to-understand, which directly leads to better communication with customers.   

In addition to membership tiers, you have other options for structuring your loyalty program. For example, just like with many supermarkets nowadays, you can offer a “club” style program – a program that provides special deals only to club members.

Discount-based programs are also effective, because it’s quite difficult to turn down the chance to pay less on something you like. Offering regular contests or raffles in a customer newsletter that a shopper can sign up for is also a useful tactic. Implementing a raffle for customers who spend over X amount of money is another alternative.

You can also create a program where if customers buy X number of items, they get the Xth one free. This loyalty program is actually in use at a Greek restaurant just down the street from work. The restaurant gives diners a small card with two rows of five empty boxes – every time you come to eat, the waiter stamps a box. If you fill up all the boxes and bring in the card, then you get your meal free. It certainly works – a co-worker of mine was on a mission to fill up his boxes to get his free meal, and he won. Obviously, so did the restaurant!

The ability to easily set up different loyalty program levels enables you to make whichever changes or updates you wish with your loyalty program. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s reporting capabilities, you can drill down into such information as what the average sale is per loyalty segment in dollar amounts – which translates into a better understanding of how well each loyalty program segment is operating (and which ones should receive even more targeted marketing).      

Word of Mouth – Making Your Loyalty Programs Go Viral

People love sharing a great story, and you know what stories customers love to tell? Stories about amazing special offers! Think of the last time you got an unexpected special something from a store, or got something for an unbelievable price. Here’s a personal example: my sister was recently in need of a new microwave. She searched high and low for a microwave that was in her budget, but after seeing them go within the range of $60 – $100 and up (which was more than she wanted to spend), she wasn’t feeling too optimistic. However, it all brightened up for her one day when she saw that microwaves were on sale for $25 at a small mom-and-pop shop near her place (yes, for only $25! How awesome is that?). Needless to say, that shop made a sale – and my sister gained a microwave.  

From that one promotion, that little shop made an enthusiastic and loyal customer. My sister told me about her purchase, told my family and her friends, and even posted it on her Facebook status. She has also since re-visited that store and made several other purchases as well, and has even taken friends with her too.

The power of the promotion should not be underestimated. If you give customers an exciting special offer, they’re going to share it with others. And if people hear that by signing up for a loyalty program with your company is going to give them offers that are too good to be true, they’re going to sign on the dotted line faster than you can say “customer retention”.

With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you’re able to create and track promotions that are targeted to each loyalty level. By putting a targeted marketing strategy in place for each of your loyalty members, you prove that you understand what these valued customers need and want. And loyalty is all about satisfying the customers’ needs. For example, if you segment your loyalty membership by the number of orders that are placed, Double Diamond Plus members who routinely order 10,000 items per month are not going to fully appreciate a Buy One, Get Two Free special offer that perhaps the 20-items-a-month Bronze member would enjoy.  

By creating targeted special offers that promote your loyalty programs, you increase your rate of customer conversion and organic, word-of-mouth advertising.

But not only are you able to simply set up the promotions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you’re also able to see the sales that are a direct result of those promotions. For example, the customers who buy an item after receiving a promotion saying they get 10% off a purchase if they punching in the code, or the customers who get a free gift with purchase when they type in their member ID, that information is relayed into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. With that information provided in real-time right at your fingertips, you see the results of each promotion over time, which enables you to start developing even more targeted marketing campaigns. And the more targeted a campaign, the greater the chance that a customer will convert. Making your offers too good to pass up means that customers won’t pass them up; instead, they’ll pass them on.

Long-Term Customers = Long-Term Profits

By building close relationships with your customers, you foster connections that translate to long-term business revenues. And with the rise of loyalty program popularity among consumers, it’s time to tap in now. According to the 2011 Colloquy Loyalty Census, “for the first time in history the number of loyalty memberships in the U.S. exceeds 2 billion, netting out to more than 18 memberships per household.”  Go out and make your loyalty program is one of those 18 memberships in each U.S. household.

If you have any questions on Microsoft Dynamics CRM for loyalty program management, feel free to email us at crm@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce and ERP, software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.

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