Recently I received an invitation to a conference on loyalty programs. Of course, I was interested. This is something all my clients want. Points, miles, gifts are all great ways to reward and incentivize customers. But nowhere in the content was there anything about the two most powerful and allied sources of customer loyalty: great customer service and engaged employees. Wow. What a glaring omission.
Bells and Whistles = Insufficient
In a nutshell, loyalty programs are structured marketing efforts that reward, and thereby encourage, loyal buying behaviour. And who doesn’t like loyalty programs? I’m a big fan of my travel rewards credit card. However, the card I originally had, provided mediocre customer service, at best. It just didn’t matter that it had some appealing bells and whistles. What I needed and what won out in the end, was great customer service. It always does.
Sadly, research shows that the profile of a typical firm in North America has one third of their employees being totally turned off by their jobs, half the workers are doing just enough to get by and only 18% are enthusiastic. In fact, world wide, actively disengaged employees outnumber engaged employees by nearly 2-1.
Peeling Back the Layers
Here in the US and Canada it means that half the workforce only do what’s expected of them. They don’t go that extra mile, don’t turn on their creative juices and don’t get inspired to give great customer service. Perhaps surprisingly, it is these people who for the most part want to go above and beyond and be an integral part of the company’s success. Something – often a disconnect with an immediate supervisor or a feeling that the company doesn’t care for them – is getting in the way. This is a huge untapped potential that many executives, managers and employees do not recognize and, therefore have not addressed. And it’s what’s sapping many an organization’s potential.
It just doesn’t make any sense to me that businesses would operate at 30% effeciency. But this is what happens when so many of an organization’s people are not contributing as much as they could. Imagine the impact of activating these same people so that they wanted to fully put their shoulders into their work? This is why loyalty programs simply cannot stand alone.
Engaged Employees + Loyalty Programs = Customer Happiness
To get the most from customer loyalty programs, no matter how shiny, they must be paired with equal efforts to increase employee engagement. Engaged employees give better customer service . It is this relationship that creates loyal, repeat customers and increased sales. While offers of fantastic trips or gadgets may lure a customer to your product or service, it is your people that will keep them coming back. Again and again.
Engagement does make a huge difference. It really is the ultimate prize for both your customers and your business. Don’t rely only on the bells and whistles.