A new report highlights the importance of connecting with customers beyond the transactional level—planning for interactions both before and after the purchase activity.
For marketers there are opportunities to build real relationships with customers at every touch point or interaction, according to Aimia, a loyalty management companty. When effectively executed, the intimacy and trust built through interactions are catalysts for customers to become brand ambassadors, promoting the brand to their networks including social media, suggests Aimia's report, titled "Rewarding Interactions: Are You Ready for Customer Intimacy?"
Aimia says that companies who truly value interactions develop additional ways to reward and recognize loyal customers beyond points, cash and discounts. For example, social currency—online recognition and status—is a way for customers to gain social standing among peers and social groups, according to the report.
"Real loyalty isn't created at the close of the sale," explains Rick Ferguson, Vice President, Knowledge Development for Aimia. "It's created when the brand and the customer become intimate through multiple interactions before, during and after the purchase."
"Companies that strategically use those interactions to learn more about their customers will build greater loyalty, create new revenue streams and develop lifelong customers," he added.
According to Aimia's research, there are four reasons marketers should collect interaction data in addition to transaction data:
1. To create new revenue streams. Interaction data is an untapped resource. There is revenue to be had from refining the information.
2. To drive incremental revenue from the loyalty base. Tying interactions to transactions creates a three dimensional, customer-centric view generating sustainable incremental lift beyond a campaign ROI.
3. To leverage and validate investments in new communication channels. Marketers need to reach consumers where, when and how they want to be reached. Different media, such as social media and mobile, are needed to connect with consumers throughout their interactions with the brand.
4. To lower the cost to serve while increasing value. Seeing the consumer on her entire lifestyle journey enables a wider array of partnerships to be formed, lowering the cost to run the loyalty program while increasing value to the consumer.