Talking With: Birdzi CEO Shekar Raman on customer loyalty do's and don'ts

| by Judy Mottl
Talking With: Birdzi CEO Shekar Raman on customer loyalty do's and don'ts

There are many strategies retailers need to have in play every day, from boosting the customer experience to adopting new technologies to boost the business while saving costs. One of the prime focus points is expanding and improving customer loyalty as the return customer is the best customer a retailer can have.

It's especially true given the advent of social media outlets which let customers spread the word about a retailer and the customer experience, in real time with just a tweet or a Facebook post or a quick photo on Instagram. Each social interaction shared has the potential to help or hurt every retailer.

Retail Customer Experience reached out to Shekar Raman, CEO and co-founder of Birdzi, for his insight on what retailers need to be doing now, what they need to start planning for and why customer loyalty has to be at the top of the strategy to-do list.

RCE: Are retailers paying as much attention to boosting customer loyalty as they should be?

Birdzi: Retailers aren't paying as much attention to loyalty as they should. Retailers are already burdened with running their stores and keeping up with competitor pricing. While some retailers have focused on improving the in-store experience and placing more importance on customer satisfaction, they have not yet fully realized the potential of their data to drive loyalty beyond what is traditionally available.

RCE: What are the elements of an effective loyalty program?

Birdzi: Understanding the key customer segments, rewarding shoppers for continued engagement and incentivizing them to purchase across more key categories. Beyond that, personalization becomes a key differentiator to driving shopper loyalty as it enables the retailer to cater to each individual shopper needs.

RCE: What is a 'to do' and a 'don't' when it comes to establishing a loyalty program.

Birdzi: A key 'do' in establishing a loyalty program is to encourage customers to present a shopper card to identify themselves at checkout; this can be encouraged through tiered pricing, continuity programs or exclusive digital promotions. Failing to do this undermines the quality and effectiveness of the program. What you don't want to do is create low pricing for ALL shoppers effectively nullifying the benefits of the program. Then, shoppers don't see any incentive in signing up. The key leadership of the organization needs to drive this philosophy. We have seen many retailers get derailed and waterdown their loyalty program which renders it ineffective.

RCE: Is there any common misconception retailers may have about loyalty programs – something you find yourself educating or explaining to retailers?

Birdzi: Loyalty does not necessarily mean personalization. With today's Big Data technologies and smart phones, it is possible to provide real-time recommendations and engagement to take the shopper experience to a new level. In fact, personalization becomes a key driver to increasing loyalty and true differentiation in the marketplace.

Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Service, Loyalty Programs, Retail - General, Social Media, Talking With

Judy Mottl

Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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