by Phil Seward | April 13, 2017
Last year saw many leading hospitality and retail brands further revamp their loyalty programs to better cultivate devotion amongst consumers, and 2017 is already showing that customer loyalty is more important than ever. Recent ICLP research has uncovered that 86 percent of U.S. consumers would "cheat" on their favorite brands and shop at competitors. 

It may just seem like a passing fancy, but looking at the numbers conversely, only 14 percent are devoted to their favorite brands -- an extremely low number that shows retailers are losing valuable financial opportunities. In order to maintain your customer pool, here are six signs to be mindful of when comparing your brand's success against competitors -- and steps to win customers back.
1.     They're not shopping as often and their cart isn't as full

You know someone to be a returning customer and have no reason to suspect anything is wrong, but your data indicates they aren't shopping like they used to, and when they are making purchases, they're not maintaining their prior spend. Maybe they're just going through a rough patch, but they could also be taking their business elsewhere.

ICLP research found 59 percent would buy more if retailers understood their individual needs and requirements better. Retailers can use data to reach this level of understanding and better personalize rewards.

2.     They're ignoring your emails

You may have noticed a customer's email open rates and click-throughs are not where they used to be. Maybe they stopped caring and can likely guess what you're going to communicate -- and you know it's a red flag if they unsubscribe. Whether they're no longer interested in your brand or their inbox mistakenly marks your emails as spam, they are missing out on relevant offers and sales are falling through the cracks.

According to ICLP research, 53 percent would buy more if brands communicated with them better. Use Big Data insights to get a better idea of how customers prefer to be contacted and find that balance between communicating frequently without bombarding them with irrelevant messages.

3.     They no longer want to share their data

It takes Big Data to personalize rewards and communication, but there's always hesitation to offer personal information to other people in our lives, let alone brands. Noticing once loyal customers becoming more reluctant and secretive with their preferences, whether it be not using an online account or refusing to complete customer surveys, is a sign they're no longer invested in you knowing how to best cater to their interests.

Fifty-three percent of consumers would buy more if they trusted brands more. Retailers must exemplify their transparency so that customers know exactly how and why their personal information will be used.

4.     They're not taking advantage of their loyalty points or redeeming rewards

They have one foot in the door by signing up to join your loyalty program, but their activity is a bit dormant. You notice they aren't earning or cashing in the points they've accrued from their purchases or additional involvement. Perhaps they're having difficulty understanding your program or they're not interested in the rewards you're offering. Initiatives should impress consumers without getting too complicated. Lack of customer engagement is a sign they don't feel valued by your brand, and it's not hard for them to find another retailer who does just this.

Our findings noted that 74 percent of U.S. consumers would buy more if they were better rewarded. This shows the power of presenting personalized rewards that "surprise and delight" customers who in return will shop more frequently, spend more each purchase and are ultimately better advocates for the brand.

5.     They're expressing more complaints

The customer has seemed satisfied since the onset of the relationship, but you're noticing they're starting to make complaints and express frustrations in person, on the phone and online. What might be dismissed as "having a bad day" may just lead into them posting negative reviews that can be harmful to your brand advocacy and overall reputation.

A full 96 percent of devoted customers would recommend a retailer to others. This demonstrates the importance of making sure your customers are happy and worry free when it comes to your relationship with them.

6.     They're being pursued by competing retailers

You might get jealous at the thought of your customers checking out other brands before making purchases, or joining a competitor's mailing list. Is this natural consumer behavior or are they losing their connection with your brand? You can't prevent the grass seeming greener on the other side, but losing sales from once devoted customers is troublesome.

Indeed, 60 percent of U.S. consumers would buy more if retailers treated them with more respect. You must listen to their feedback, take the next step to offer rewards they'll likely take advantage of and individualize brand experiences to build personal connections. They are not to be taken for granted.
With 86 percent of consumers ready to cheat on their favorite retailers, it's imperative your loyalty program is central to driving devotion among valuable customers and proving itself to be worthwhile in their eyes.

Alongside implementing a strong rewards system, all retailers should take time to get to know their customers, understand what they want, personalize brand experiences and perfect communication, ensuring trust and respect across all consumer demographics; aspects difficult to find anywhere else.

Phil Seward is the regional director for the Americas at global loyalty agency, ICLP (part of the Collinson Group). Combining agency and client-side experience, he is responsible for driving devoted customer relationships for ICLP's clients across the U.S. and Latin America.