Having followed the customer journey through all its various stages, each one has been building and converging to reach this point – the customer relationship; the ultimate goal of any savvy retailer. If successfully achieved, a solid customer relationship comes with loyalty, repeat purchase and possibly even recommendation, which leads to increased business for that retailer and the cycle begins again.
Your customer relationship will evolve as the customer takes their shopping journey with you from being inspired, through to a personalised offering and finally to conversion. Once the transaction has taken place you have an important opportunity to cement the relationship that has been triggered. Revisiting earlier phases of the customer journey can help to do this, as it is familiar for the consumer and easy to execute through established processes.
Nando’s did exactly this through an updated loyalty card scheme designed to sustain customer relationships by understanding their needs and maintaining a personal connection. Whilst the brand’s original loyalty programme drove frequency through a simple hand-stamped paper card reward mechanic, this gleaned no customer information. The refreshed scheme centred around a plastic card marketed to customers in a fun tone as “lick-clean” and impervious to PERi-PERi sauce spills, whilst providing Nando’s with that all-important customer data to enable personalisation. A year later the company’s database had grown from 50,000 to more than 800,000 with the loyalty card helping to drive sales growth by 5% YOY. Plus, as a result of the scheme, at 4.82 visits per year Nando’s boasts the highest return frequency of loyalty card diners of any other high street restaurant brand.
To maintain tailored messaging for individuals, it’s important to continue monitoring customer behaviour. No one remains at the same stage of life forever, so customers’ needs will evolve and your messaging will become irrelevant if you don’t keep up. Indeed, according to the CMO Council, 54% of consumers would consider ending their relationship with a retailer if they are not given tailor made, relevant content and offers. McDonald’s has dealt with exactly this in a market where healthy eating has become top priority and parents didn’t trust the brand to deliver this. In response, McDonald’s revised its communications strategy to engage directly with customers in an open and honest manner by launching makeupyourownmind.co.uk, inviting the public to ask any questions they liked. It was also used to recruit the public as ‘Quality Scouts’ to go behind the scenes and investigate the urban myths surrounding McDonald’s. Although this was a significant risk with no guarantee the scouts would come out in favour, the public’s response to the website was double industry expectations and McDonald’s is seeing years of decline in brand trust starting to climb due to direct engagement with its customers.
Beyond this, revisiting inspiration at regular intervals can remind your customers why they chose you in the first place. Customer relationships can be fragile, so you need to protect them from predatory competitors; the more you can do to maintain customer loyalty, the more successful your relationships will be. Bearing in mind that customers’ needs will change, it can be tricky to deliver exactly what they’re looking for. Sainsbury’s developed a very successful solution to this challenge with its free magazine “Fresh Ideas”, targeted and mailed to its most valuable shoppers. Full of seasonal ideas, recipes and stories geared around the target audience, and linking back to products found in store, customers were inspired by the content and driven to repeat purchase. As a result, the magazine is estimated to have delivered over £20 million in incremental profit, with an ROI of 405%.
In summary, maintaining a customer relationship is crucial to repeat sales and growth, and addressing each of the steps along the customer journey is the best way to do it. Harvard Business Review states that companies who capture the full customer journey deliver 8.5 times higher shareholder value, which means your business’ success depends on how well you communicate and connect with your customers.
Once your customer relationship is established and you have processes in place to maintain it, the next step is to convert you customer into a fan. Don’t miss our next blog, which looks at the steps you can take to move towards this status.
For an overview of the customer journey, download our infographic here.
Contact your Amadeus account manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on the journey from travel agent to successful retailer and to find out how Amadeus can help.