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Consumer incentives insights: Learning from customer experiences

Consumer incentives insights: Learning from customer experiences

Author: Cathy Smith 

Source: Retail Dive 

When shoppers excitedly save up loyalty points or watch for your digital coupon in their inboxes, you know you’re doing something right. But what if your customers aren’t as engaged as you’d like?

In Part 1 of our Consumer Incentives Insights series, based on three surveys that delved into customer expectations, behaviors, and preferences, we discussed just how influential rewards, rebates, and loyalty programs can be...and what customers expect from their experiences.

Part 2 delves into how customers participated in incentives programs. Understanding the irritations that get under users’ skin, as well as what keeps them coming back, is key to designing a CI program that could become a positive (and recurring!) feature of customers’ lives.

Consumers Want Digital Tools

27% of survey respondents named tracking points as a frustrating part of the incentives experience. And 35% said a confusing redemption process got in the way of their rewards bliss.

In fact, trends point toward the growing desire for frictionless consumer experiences. A recent report found that the majority of customers want the ability to shop seamlessly across all channels. And, Wirecard’s 2018 Consumer Insights report discovered that customers valued speed when shopping both online and off. Integrated experiences and digital tools were key to delivering on both.

Similarly, making sure seamlessness finds its way into the consumer incentives space demands digital innovation. When Wirecard asked consumers how managing their rebates and rewards could be simpler, 62% of respondents said a mobile app would make the difference.

In fact, the majority already used mobile apps to manage their incentives. Yet, it’s worth noting that physical cards were the next most common method. This points to an opportunity for brands to upgrade their current CI offerings from plastic cards to virtual ones, enabled by apps that put digital tools at users’ fingertips.

But it’s one thing to build digital tools and another to have them become a success story in the same vein as T-Mobile, which uses virtual cards to incentivize customers to switch providers, or Domino’s Pizza, which receives 60% of orders through its loyalty app. Today’s digitally powered rebates and rewards programs must integrate with users’ busy lives — not cause an unwelcome distraction. Partnering with a third party who can put together digital payments tools, a user-friendly interface, and branded touchpoints that drive engagement could help you stand out in a marketplace crowded with apps and offers.

The Need for Speed

With 81% of Americans owning a smartphone, it’s no surprise that digital devices have replaced coupon folders for many shoppers.

More surprising: just how high consumer expectations soared when it came to speed. In fact, 39% of respondents said the maximum time it should take to receive an incentive after redeeming it was one day or less. Just as two-day shipping has made shoppers impatient with longer wait times, faster rebate experiences have prepared consumers for more of the same.

As far as consumers’ favorite ways to receive incentives, digital cards won the plurality, with 45% liking this method the best. Digital gift cards are fast to activate and can be used right away. So, this preference aligns with consumer demand for speed (and can also help save time on the issuer’s end). 

Consumers Are Rewards Experts

Even if you’re in the dark about your available incentive options, your customer probably isn’t.

Our survey respondents said they currently received incentives an average of 2.3 different ways — from loyalty points to account credits. Combine that with an insight from Part 1: 92% of consumers have received at least one reward in the past year, and 21% are “super users,” who received more than 10 rewards.

The takeaway? Today’s consumers have enough experience with incentives to know what they want from brands — and to compare rebates and rewards they liked with the ones that weren’t so stellar. Listen to them when they say they want faster, digitally powered experiences that make managing incentives easy and fun, rather than just another to-do list item.

In Part 3: We’ll delve into brand loyalty, and how incentives programs power lasting customer relationships.

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