Customer loyalty should remain top of mind during COVID-19

As businesses strategise over the best way to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, they cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of sustaining the best customer experience and service quality – and loyalty programmes are central to this.

This is according to leading independent customer relationship management company LoyaltyPlus. The company adds that part of ensuring operations continue during a crisis involves maintaining reward to customers, and being cognisant of relationships with key stakeholders including vendors, partners and investors.

In today’s commercial markets, awash with uncertainty, it is absolutely crucial that the customer relationship is not neglected in any way and the brand continues to reward the customer for their support. The business and economic reasoning behind this is one factor, another is reputation and ensuring the business is kept front of mind for the right reasons.

Whether or not a business makes it through the current COVID-19 ‘storm’ depends a great deal on the level of response.

LoyaltyPlus emphasises that this ‘response’ means keeping communication channels open and effective. In other words there has to be consistent messaging to effectively inform the customer without annoying them and actually ‘putting them off’.

It’s critical to keep the conversation channels open, with content that is relevant and adds value – especially during a crisis.

That is the one layer of communication and B2C engagement, the other is that business owners should not lose sight of the opportunity that a crisis presents.

LoyaltyPlus stresses that while it is fundamental to continue to provide an effective service, there is an opportunity during the crisis to innovate and deliver on new loyalty programmes and revenue channels.

The app development market is an example. This digital channel is being tapped into, especially by small businesses, to absorb the impact of slow business growth and ‘quiet’ markets.

According to the smallbusinesssite.co.za, South Africa is home to over 100 loyalty reward programmes and initiatives, used by over 25 million people. The site states that loyal customers can be worth ten times as much as a single purchase.

Loyalty is therefore a sought-after commodity during normal business conditions, but even more so when it comes to operation during a crisis.

Many new apps are emerging in the market to assist businesses during the crisis, with the focus on communication, ‘reaching out’ to the customer and advertising fresh services.

Essentially the focus is on making sure the customer realises that the brand they are supporting is still very much in operation and has withstood any impact from the COVID-19 crisis.