Mobile devices enable users to be more connected than ever. As of 2015, two-thirds of Americans owned a smartphone, a number that will undoubtedly grow in 2016. Consumers can connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time. And they expect the same from brands and loyalty programs: they want to check their rewards points in line at the grocery store and chat with reps who can answer questions almost instantly.
Immediacy is no longer the goal; it’s the expectation. And loyalty programs that can offer real-time one-to-one communication will win.
3 ways loyalty programs can keep up with customer expectations:
1. Ensure all channels are integrated. Every database should be able to talk to one another. Begin integrating all communication channels so customer information is accurate and up-to-date on your app, mobile and desktop sites. Make sure users can pick up right where they left off, whether that’s from their smartphone, tablet or laptop. Your system should recognize that Susan Smith on a mobile app is the same Susan Smith logged in on her desktop.
2. Respond to real-time questions with real-time answers. Equip your customer service team to answer consumers’ most common questions. Maybe that means your reps need more training, or your communication systems need to be connected so one rep can ask another rep a question if they can’t figure it out immediately on their own. Passing customers from one rep to another to repeat the same question over and over won’t cut it anymore. Customers who are on their way to the airport expect to be able to chat with an airline representative who can answer questions about their miles before they arrive.
3. Create a trail of communication. Create a trail of communication so reps can log on and see customer activity and past inquiries. Document interactions with customers: What have they inquired about in the past? What issues have they had? How were they resolved? That way, if a different rep answers the phone or responds via chat, they have some context and information that can help them more quickly assess and resolve issues.
Loyalty programs are designed to create and retain customers. But those that can’t keep up with customers’ growing expectations will lose — both in the loyalty game and more broadly in growing their business.