How well do you really know your customers?

your-customers-are-your-most-previous-assets

We all think that we know our audience pretty well and you know what we probably do, but there isn’t a piece of research work I’ve done over the last 16 years that hasn’t brought out a little gem, that piece of insight into a consumers mind, heart and their propensity to allow brands to get that little bit closer to them.

Being independent of brands it’s quite easy for me to ask the right questions and really get under the skin of what consumers expect these days from brands to retain them. After all as consumers we’ve never had so much choice, so retaining a customer can be as tough as flipping a coin… UNLESS you get them involved in your decision making, you see it’s not just enough to be customer focused, you really do need them involved, why second guess when a couple of focus groups combined with some online simple but effectively written questions can bring out some real gems or in fact re-inforce your decision making process.

If your customers really are your most precious assets, then know how to look after them to keep them for longer.

Loyalty…Think Global

loyalty-think-global

In a world that’s getting smaller rapidly, and companies exporting their goods overseas to drive revenue, these brands now need to think globally about their loyalty activity and give customers what they want around the world.

The fundamentals of customer loyalty do not change whether you’re in the UK or the Middle East. But what does change? And how do you make sure you’re giving your French customers what’s right for them which could be totally different to those down under?

Ask them! Whichever country your business is exporting to, you will undertake intensive market research before making the move, so make sure your customers are getting a look-in at this stage. What cultural issues are there that could make an impact on their decision making process and what do you need to take into consideration when offering rewards and promotions – you don’t want to offend or turn customers off!

Get to know the market properly and see what other brands are offering in the region. Get ahead of the competition and stand out from the crowd with your global loyalty proposition, we’d love to help you break into new markets, do your research and get your proposition right.

Say it right and stand out in an inbox!

communications

Communications will make or break your loyalty programme. Your tone and approach needs to be appropriate when speaking to your customers to keep them interested, engaged and excited. Here are some top uber tips to communicating successfully…

1. Be clear and concise: Using the ‘voice of your brand’ you need to speak with your customers in an obvious manner. No consumer wants to second guess offers or promotions or be left feeling confused.

2. Make them stand out! Our inboxes are saturated with brand emails, so make sure yours is top of the read list and make it stand out with a catchy subject line. What’s the most important and compelling message you want readers to understand? Free product? £40 complimentary gift? Opportunity to try a new product? Whatever it is, make sure it’s in the subject line so it’s obvious and gets opened.

3. Check, check and double check your campaigns. Ensure everything you send out is proof read and checked for any typos

4. Make sure your comms are short and snappy with all your main points in the first paragraph. No customer wants to look for the message and nor should they have to

5. Make your communications personal. Use your CRM or direct mail system to make your communications personal. Using your customer’s name will make them feel part of your exclusive community

6. Sound like your brand. A successful brand knows its personality and its customers and speaks to them appropriately. Write your communications to match your personality and don’t be too corporate. A more chatty tone will encourage your members to read on and feel part of your community of loyal brand advocates

7. Timing is everything! Sending an email at 17.30pm on a Friday afternoon is not very likely to be read, so plan your communications at peak times to maximise your chances of being read! (Depending on who you are targeting, mid-week emails are usually more successful with Tuesdays and Thursday’s being firm uber faves)

8. How do you look? Remember you’re communicating your brand so you need to make sure it looks its best visually. Make sure your logo is perfect and is a true reflection of your brand. Bodge photo editing and inconsistency will damage your image

9. Less is sometimes more! The more the merrier may be true for a trip to a cocktail bar; it is not however for a communications plan! Bombarding members with promotions and brand news will turn them off and relegate you to their junk emails so strike that balance

10. Is it worth opening? Don’t send communications for the sake of pressing send. There has to be a compelling proposition or reason to send emails, or you might as well not bother

Fighting to be noticed in an inbox is not easy, but taking time to make sure each email is relevant, timely and accurate will not only portray your brand effectively, but make sure your message is understood and motivate customers to act upon it!

Sanity check your business strategy and loyalty marketing plans

business-strategy

The start of 2015 will bring lots of new exciting things for our businesses, this time of the year we’re all either still planning or getting budgets signed off… One thing that really should be part of any businesses core strategy is ENGAGEMENT; working towards keeping your customers at the heart of your business will differentiate those that think they can buy loyalty to those who truly understand that in 2015 it’s all about two way conversations and having an open honest relationship with your customer to engage them.

Get your engagement strategy right this year, lets chat about us doing a simple sanity check, to review and recommend the best way forward to achieve those customer loyalty, CRM and engagement goals… your customers are your most precious assets looking after them means keeping them for longer.

Helping your business to grow, develop and flourish

helping-businesses-grow-and-develop

Over the past 17 years I have helped businesses grow, develop and flourish. It’s often hard to see the wood from the trees in day to day business; someone viewing your business from the outside can bring clarity to the business and give you a genuine and honest view.

I understand challenges that small to large businesses face and can help take your company to the next level by addressing current challenges, planning for the future and developing your business strategy. Over the years, I’ve worked across retail, fashion, beauty hair and the luxury market as well as helping public sector organisations with their strategy around new projects.

It’s all down to connection too, so why don’t you get in touch to see if I can help your business… http://www.sarahcross.co.uk/

Understand your customers and your colleagues more…

understand-your-customers

I’ve always been interested in the psychology of people and the power of our own state of mind to achieve success in our business and personal lives. I set my first business up before I was 30 and getting the confidence to leave a highly paid job in the corporate world took immense personal belief, after taking this leap of faith in myself, I knew that a lot of my success came from my own inner belief… thoughts become things so I make sure I keep them good.

I decided to delve deeper into this principle and start using NLP for my business and personal life.

What is NLP…?
NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming, it’s an approach to communication, personal development and psychotherapy. NLP has various techniques and tools which people use to help change behaviour and gain better outcomes. It helps you study the way individuals communicate with each other and the ways in which they think.

I’m a qualified NLP Practitioner and can help you overcome your fears, to building your confidence, to gaining a better understanding of your customers, and your teams. Get in touch to find out more http://www.sarahcross.co.uk/

A fresh pair of eyes... would a Non Executive Director help your business?

non-executive-director

You’ve got an operational board and management team that have clearly defined roles and are driving the business forward… so why would you need a Non Executive Director (NED)?

Well, the role of a non-executive director has a few key elements to it, and importantly it brings an independent fresh perspective, often with a wide network of contacts and a broad experience background. The likelihood is you’ll find it very difficult to financially justify having this type of exec person on board full time, so recruiting a NED gives you access to this person and the benefits they will bring at a much more affordable rate.

You need to be really clear about what you expect from your NED, what would really make the difference to your business… here are some of the key elements of a Non-Executive Director role:
Business Strategy – NED’s are here to challenge your strategy and help develop it giving you an external experienced perspective, taking into consideration what you want to achieve, your financial controls, systems and risk assess where you are going. Success – NED’s scrutinise the performance of management in meeting goals you’ve set and developing the objectives you have, giving you clarity and then independent external advice on how those goals and objectives should be monitored and reported. People – NEDs can be responsible for determining appropriate levels of remuneration of exec directors and take a prime role in appointing and where necessary removing senior management as well as succession planning, a lot of NED’s have the skill sets to motivate and develop teams too. Communication and Networks – a NED may well be an expert in your sector or have a wide network to help you grow and develop your business, networking with the right people to help you achieve your business goals and strategy.

In terms of time a non executive will give your business will vary from company to company and can be as little as attending the monthly board meeting to provide independent strategic support or to weekly face to face or telephone meetings.

One of the most important elements to your decision-making is good fit, your new NED needs to connect with your management team and bring a fresh exciting new element to your business.

If you’re thinking about taking on a non-executive director for your business check out www.sarahcross.co.uk

Keep it relevant and personal!

keep-communications-relevant-and-personal

We are all about the customer and are continually carrying out customer research on behalf of ourselves or our clients so we know what customers like…and don’t like!

For this reason, we know how much your customers want you to get personal with them and offer them relevant treats and rewards in your loyalty programme! It’s highly unlikely that a lady with two children that lives in the country likes the same as a city living singleton – so treat them differently.

Spending time to segment your data well by age, sex, location and transactional data (depending how sophisticated your CRM software is!) will allow you to speak to your customers relevantly and personally, and will see a noticeable improvement on redemption rates and engagement levels.

But remember, the art is in the delivery. Generic emails are rarely effective. You need to get personal, use your data, be creative and write for your audience.

Use your CRM software to get even more personal in your communications. Tailor the style and tone of your email to suit your audience and include their name, local store or past purchase information so the recipient feels included and special! Take an adaptive approach and test different campaigns to see what works best with your audience.

Remember, customers are your most precious assets…looking after them means keeping them for longer!  :-)

Get rewarding – what do customers actually want?

what-do-customers-want

As part of any loyalty activity, rewarding your customers features heavily, but how do you make sure you’re giving customers what they want and keep them coming back for more?

Have you asked them? Do your research in the initial stages of implementing your loyalty programme and get to know your customer and what they want. What do they do, where do they do it and who do they do it with? Understanding your customer will allow you to reward them with treats and surprises they will love.

The key to any loyalty strategy is flexibility and adaptability – some things you plan will work…others won’t!

Brands need to be brave and realise they will make mistakes along the way. We always advise brands that the first year of any loyalty activity should be a ‘test and learn’ phase. Try different rewards and incentives to see what turns your customers on and off.

Be sensible and segment your customers; only offering certain initiatives to certain groups so it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on your business and make a record of customer behaviour.

When rewarding, work with local business and complimentary brands that will entice more members to join your community. This won’t cost you anything and will be mutually beneficial: brilliant!  :-)

How organised is your loyalty activity?

loyalty-activity

Emma is the Queen of Organisation in the uber office and the lady behind all our systems and processes. Here are her top tips on how to make sure your loyalty programme  is a success by keeping an eye on the details…

  1. Plan! Plan! Plan! We plan by quarter for clients and work in advance, so we can make sure there is plenty of time to prepare and ensure everything’s in place for the coming quarter. By doing everything in quarters, you can review it regularly and see what works and what doesn’t.    Taking an adaptive approach will definitely guarantee you the best results!
  2. The Bible: uber and its clients live their daily work lives by the bible aka thecommunication plan! Everything going on in the company should be documented in the bible and your time plan organised around it.
  3. CRM is the core to any loyalty programme but the real role of CRM is always much more than the contact strategy and database management. It’s about the degree to which you can align all departments behind a common goal; creating the best possible brand experience in whatever form the consumer chooses.
  4. All staff need training and to be singing from the same hymn sheet – any loyalty activity lives or dies by the attitude of your staff so make sure you’re training them sufficiently to do so.
  5. Everyone must follow the same procedures to ensure the customer experience is flawless. Systems and processes are in place for a reason – make sure you and your staff are using them!

It’s all about building trust…

building-trust

Like any relationship, your relationship with your customer is all about building trust and in loyalty trust plays a huge factor.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, trust is the “Firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something”– that something is your brand!

Trust needs to be built in order to harness a loyal relationship with your customer in your programme. You need to do your research in order to fully understand your customer and use this information to build a relationship with them.

In order to gather data invite them to be part of a community, make sure you speak to them in a personalised way and if you have their data – use it! If you don’t you’ll lose trust and this is very hard to get back!

The key to any loyalty activity is exceeding expectations in building trust and by rewarding personally and relevantly your relationship with your customers will go from strength to strength!

So, do your customers trust you?

Loyalty is a team effort!

loyalty-team-effort

A loyalty programme will live or die by your staff, so brands need to remember that the success of any loyalty activity does not stop with the marketing department.

No loyalty programme can be run by one person alone and for any loyalty activity to succeed it needs the buy in from each and every department in the business.

Whether it’s the till staff, the customer service team, the sales guys or those behind-the-scene  – each and every one needs to be fully versed in all loyalty activity and understand the reasons why you’re doing what you’re doing.  So how do you do this?

Educate – Make sure all staff understand the reasons for why you’re carrying out your loyalty activity. Explain that rewarding your loyal customers will attract and retain customers and drive revenue – essential to grow the business! Each department needs to understand their vital role in the activity and understand what the results will mean for the business and their future with it.

Motivate – Get your staff excited about the programme. Now your staff understand the business reasons behind your loyalty activity, you need to get their buy-in. Your loyalty programme will live or die by your staff with them being the first point of contact for most of your customers. They need to receive the relevant training to be able to do this and communicate properly and positively with your customers.

Incentivise – Set your staff targets.  Each department needs targets relating to their input in the loyalty programme. Whether this is related to the number of sign ups till staff have made, the quality of partnership deals marketing staff have secured, or how well sales managers have communicated to your business partners, each one needs targets.

The golden role of your loyalty activity is to keep your staff in the loop. Make sure you’re sending regular updates, they know what activity is happening month on month and they understand any exclusives available to members.

And above all, make sure you are giving all staff feedback on how they’re doing and how successful the programme is becoming. It’s a team effort…so get everyone on board!

Is your loyalty activity consistent?

loyalty-activity-consistent

We live in a super accessible world with smart phones, tablet computers and laptops, permanently attached to most people! For this reason, it has never been more important that your loyalty activity is reaching all these touch points.

Just sending emails to your loyal brand advocates isn’t enough. Your key messages and all your planned activity needs to be integrated across all channels and should be easily available at every touch point to your business, whether this is in store, online, on social media, or through advertising and your staff messaging.

Whether your customers are checking their Facebook, twitter, emails, brand apps or even in store or salon, your key brand messages need to be consistent and coherent!

And as we always say, don’t forget your most vocal and influential touch point…your staff !

Your loyalty programme will live or die by the enthusiasm of them and if they don’t understand it and believe in it, your customers won’t either. You have to invest time to get them excited and really get their buy in to the programme for its long term success. If they’re part of your programme, they will understand it and communicate it more effectively, so get them involved!