The ripple effects of COVID-19 have changed how businesses attract and retain customers—and motivated many companies to change how they reward their loyal customers.
Offering transactional rewards attracts customers initially, but then it’s imperative to create emotional connections that bond customers to brands. To build strong relationships with your customers via experiential rewards, consider implementing these four strategies:
1. Reinforce relevant company values. Customers want to do business with brands that align with their values. Consumers expect brands to evolve, and they want proof of their ethical practices.
REI, for example, values protecting and sharing life outdoors. The company lives its ethics by raising money to restore nature and offset its carbon emissions. It engages members to support those same brand values.
2. Expand experiences with strategic partners. Customers often first encounter a brand via a partnership with another brand. Consider recent partnerships between LEGO and IKEA and between Lyft and Tinder. Finding strategic partners whose values align with and enhance your brand is a compelling way to improve your customers’ overall experiences.
3. Align experiential rewards with customer passions. Consumers are looking for enjoyment in life—now more than ever. Understanding your customers’ interests and providing valuable and appealing experiences engages customers and improves their perception of your brand.
Marriott makes the most of this strategy with its Marriott Bonvoy Moments program, which offers experiences matched to members’ interests in the arts, cuisine, entertainment, and sports.
While not all members are interested in reward experiences or able to access them, the offerings create positive impressions that can create a halo effect for the brand.
4. Deliver flawlessly—in digital and physical spaces. Providing experiences without glitches is a basic requirement. Impeccable delivery may require tech support—e.g., website development or app integration—or it may demand a highly personalized human touch.
As we continue to encounter changing business realities, brands need to make nimble strategic adjustments. The key will be getting creative to find ways to create emotional connections through everyday brand experiences and reward offerings.