One thing your customers and staff both want

There are not many things your customers and staff both want, but young or old, product or service, everyone wants to have ‘fun’!

Of course the natural question is what’s meant by ‘fun’. Well fun can involve: winning, solving problems, exploring, chilling out, teamwork, recognition, triumphing, collecting, surprise, imagination, sharing, role playing, customisation.

But what does enabling people to have fun have to do with business? By enabling fun you can create an emotional content with the experience and get people engaged. When people are engaged they are more likely to move towards your objective.

Here’s a practical example. The progress bar on LinkedIn was introduced to get more people to complete their profile. By people completing their profile they are more committed to the site, it makes it easier for others to get good results, and it creates more data for LinkedIn to target users. Completing profiles went up by a very impressive 20% when LinkedIn created a very simple Profile Completeness bar. It’s not what most of us would call fun or gamelike, but it has enough to engage people to get them to do more. Specifically the completed to date (feedback), the recommendation for what’s next (progression) and your next level (completion).

The fun does not need to completely enthral people or have them regard it as the most thrilling thing in their life, it can be far simpler.

While fun is broader than just having a laugh or making something whiz bang, to be successful fun needs to be designed into the process. Further, fun can be challenging and there are many kinds of fun.

For example having customers provide responses to other customers’ questions is now not uncommon. Many organisations have created a gamelike forum where those responding do the work that would normally be done by the organisation. But in these cases the knowledgeable customers share because they regard it as ‘fun’.

I’m talking about ‘Gamification’ of course. Fun is the core element of Gamification. The term is relatively new today and often regarded as a distinct discipline. However, just as Artificial Intelligence was a term that previously had its own focus but is now part of the business mainstream, Gamification’s integration is already happening. It’s starting to become an integral part of everyday software.

So what does Gamification mean for business? As always know your customers, or staff if it’s an internal focus. Know your objectives, and introduce elements of fun into what you want customers or staff to do to achieve your objectives.

Go 2 Market principle: no one doesn’t want to have fun. Fun can mean a lot of different things, so think broadly. And by enabling fun you can make a huge difference to the fun your bottomline will have.

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The three M’s for a pleasurable journey

I like the challenge of a good bike ride but not one that’s full of surprises and no end in sight. So if you’re like me, and in business, here are some thoughts on making the journey manageable.

All businesses need to monitor, measure and manage what they are doing. Frankly the order of these isn’t that important as it’s a circular process anyway. The three actions feed onto each other naturally enough, with the goal to optimise performance:

  • Monitor what you are doing, be it through daily, weekly or monthly reporting
  • Measure the outcome so you know how results fare relative to expectations
  • Manage the performance so you improve the efficiency and effectiveness (costs and results).

Here is a practical example of what I shared with a distributor using both bricks and mortar retail stores and also selling online:

  • split sales by channel
  • sales this month compared to last month (month on month sales)
  • sales for YTD this year vs last year (year on year sales)
  • actual vs budgeted sales.

A few other things:

  • monitor these results at least weekly
  • the results should ideally be broken down by product
  • and measured by unit sales, turnover, and margin
  • ideally you would want to be able to analyse sales by region or area to find the hot and cold spots in your sales
  • and know your top customers results for these metrics.

If you monitor and measure these results you’ll have a lot of valuable information. You’ll have a very good feel for how your business is going before the end of the month’s results. You’ll have plenty of quality information to feed back into the team, and most importantly the information to manage the business rather than the other way around.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to monitor and measure so give responsibility to someone in your team that has the diligence and interest in it that it deserves. Ensure though that you don’t abdicate accountability for managing, as this is where another set of skills are likely to be required.

There’s no end to the cycle of monitoring, measuring and managing, but it can be a pleasant ride if you get involved. If not it’ll be like going downhill, blindfolded, over rocky terrain with no suspension.

Go 2 Market principle: get these reports created so that you can monitor and measure your sales, then manage them to success.

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Deeper and broader than a loyalty programme

The past two blogs have focused on rewards and loyalty. Loyalty being a very important outcome, and rewards one tool to help achieve that outcome. They’re both commonly associated with a ‘loyalty programme’. However, the term is more often a noun than it is a verb. Any business needs to be in the ‘doing’ mode when it comes to loyalty because customers are continually demonstrating their loyalty, or not.

So where’s the place for a ‘loyalty programme’. My last post talked about the use of rewards and loyalty, and the benefits of having a programme that was right for the business and the customer.

With the cloud and mobile technology there are some excellent options available for businesses of all sizes. NextBee and Fielo are two such programmes, and RewardJunkie one of the early adopters of iOS6’s Passbook, another. These loyalty programmes offer so much more flexibility and advantages for the business and customer than the more traditional programmes.

What’s needed though is a more holistic approach to rewards and loyalty. What’s needed is a ‘Customer programme’ – a programme driven by a strategy that focuses on the customer. A loyalty programme that uses rewards to enhance loyalty could be part of the Customer programme, but on its own it’s not broad or deep enough.

Here are some of the elements to consider including in your Customer programme:

  • A CRM system to register customers
  • Customer segmentation driven by the CRM, analytics and insight
  • Customer research to inform and monitor the programme
  • Customer experience programme with measures and monitoring
  • Communications strategy including media monitoring
  • Loyalty programme.

The elements listed above are interlinked and rely on the overall customer strategy being determined first. However, just like anything you don’t need to develop all these elements before you start your programme. You can add incrementally after establishing the strategy.

Go 2 Market principle: getting customer loyalty takes a lot of ‘doing’. Having a Loyalty programme can help with the doing if you pick the right one. But a multi faceted Customer programme is required to ensure lasting customer value.

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Which is it: rewards, loyalty, or re-alty?

I got some comments about my last blog on two leading rewards/loyalty programmes (NextBee and Fielo) and driving loyalty through rewards. Plus concerns of customers being loyal to the programme rather than the brand. All worth discussing.

Coincidently when truncating the two terms, rewards and loyalty, the word ‘re-alty’ is created. Quite aptly I believe. Turning to the trusty thefreedictionary.com the meaning of ‘realty’ is: “belongings, property, holding – something owned; any tangible or intangible possession that is owned by someone”.

These words speak to me about ‘customer loyalty’ (intangible possession), ‘rewards’ (belongings), and ‘perception’ (owned by someone). The kind of words that resonate with rewards and loyalty.

But coming back to the point. Rewards provide an opportunity to enhance loyalty. For example, rewarding someone for being a customer for 5 or x years is a nice thing to do and is generally appreciated by the customer making them more loyal.

Also offering customers a reward (or incentive) to change their behaviour e.g. go to online billing, may increase their loyalty to the brand. Friend get friend offers (referral) using rewards will work if there is customer loyalty; as you don’t recommend something you don’t rate to a friend.

So in my opinion rewards and loyalty work hand in hand. However, some rewards such as a reward for not leaving (typical in the electricity sector) doesn’t recognise loyalty but is more blackmail.

Further I believe that there are different levels of loyalty, for example:

  • Despite rewarding a customer, a bad customer experience or competing offer may make them ignore their level of loyalty and change brands
  • Some people are more loyal to the programme than the brand.

With the right programme, you can manage rewards to maximise the benefits and limit the downsides of a loyalty programme.  My previous and next blog will cover more about the best options for rewards/loyalty.

Being part of an umbrella rewards/loyalty programme makes your brand part of the programme and the drive for rewards can be more important than your brand. Being part of a programme rather than having your own also has an impact on the perception about rewards. Progressive Brand’s One Card and New World’s Fly Buys are a good example of perception about ownership and brand.

Go 2 Market principle: as always, customer perception (their ‘realty’) is the important thing. Use rewards within the right programme, manage the rewards to drive loyalty and create something that works for you and your customer. That should be your reality.

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How to play better than the big boys, and for less

I can’t think of a business that doesn’t want to retain their existing customers and also get new ones, maybe Jetstar. But for the other 99.99% of businesses looking after existing customers and acquiring new customers is the goal.

There are lots of angles to achieving this goal, starting with the four ‘P’s’ of Marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Then of course there is ‘People’, which is every bit as important as the other four.  But even when you have got all these covered there are ways to enhance them.

There are now rewards/loyalty programmes that will ‘enhance’ your ability to retain and acquire new customers. These programmes use cloud based functionality so all businesses can have the chance to implement a rewards/loyalty programme very effectively and also very efficiently.

Two tools that I’m familiar with are: NextBee and Fielo. They both offer solutions that allow business to run and manage their own branded programme. But don’t think the traditional loyalty programme used by larger national brands, these solutions are the new way.

They are very cost effective:

  • One of the two solutions has zero upfront costs for their out of the box solution
  • The monthly costs are either on a cents per active user rate or a fixed rate
  • They allow use of your customer’s social media for referrals
  • You only pay for the rewards redeemed.

They are autonomous:

  • They have your brand, and only your brand
  • You manage them as you wish – options include focusing on new products, referrals, encouraging different customer behaviours, rewarding for tenure
  • You are not confined to running promotions when another party says you should.

They are scalable:

  • Start off small with a select group of customers or staff
  • Develop any number of rewards campaigns in your own time.

As a previous participant in one of the traditional loyalty programmes I’ve been blown away with the functionality these cloud based tools offer. Others have been impressed to, users include: Virgin, Taco Bell, Westfield, Unicef, Adobe to name a few. New Zealand clients are now starting to roll in too.

Go 2 Market principle: consumers all love being recognised and rewarded. Until now this was very difficult and expensive for most businesses. But now there are options that offer benefits over and above the traditional less flexible and more expensive programmes. Fielo or NextBee offer a cost effective, independently branded and managed rewards and loyalty programme. Time to play?

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