The customer's voice

Customers don’t just want to buy things from a brand – rather, the vast majority say they want to form a relationship. When thinking about the customer experience, it’s important to remember that, for most people, this is the fundamental proposition. As a brand, you need to help forge a meaningful connection.  

Any business needs to balance pleasing customers with meeting balance-sheet goals. In this piece we’ll explore what we can learn about loyalty through the lens of customer service, taking a closer listen into what our customers have to say.  

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What do your customers actually want from loyalty programmes?

The customer plays a fundamental part in helping your business grow. It’s therefore invaluable to know and understand their main motivations when it comes to interacting with your brand.

This alone is not enough, however, according to our Voice of Customer Lead here at IAGL, Michelle Quickfall.

“If we look deeper, it’s about achieving a level of responsiveness that your consumers value, that makes them want to keep interacting with your brand. If you’re able to do this well, you put yourself in a profitable position to grow,” says Quickfall.

In a previous article about embracing tech but making it human, we talked about choice and personalisation. This has always been an important pillar for us. In this article, we identified one way to be sure you’re hearing your customers voice – and that’s by ensuring there are enough mediums to reach you easily.

This is useful to know. But what’s even more useful to know is what aspect of your rewards programme is most attractive to customers and why.

Knowing that your customers are excited by redeeming on products and access to specific offers, which are only redeemable by members, is a valuable piece of information. The reason for this is because it gives them a sense of exclusivity and makes being a part of your programme more worthwhile. In fact, a recent Capgemini study showed that 63% of customers prefer loyalty programs that offer exclusive accessto products and services.  

Driving customer satisfaction through listening

With what we know about the emotions associated with travel (read more about the psychology of travel) listening to your customer’s voice will only ensure that what your brand loyalty platform provides is in line with your customers’ current wants and needs. According to a HubSpot annual report, 88% of customers have higher expectations currently than ever before.  

56% of customers say a businesses responses to reviews have changed their perspective on that business. This feedback can come in several ways, from social media listening, to focus groups, to reviews. The actual platforms are important too, whether that be online chat functions or customer service providers they can speak to on the phone. So, then what do we do with this information?  

  1. We ask for feedback on the platforms our consumers are currently using, whether that be email, app, or website.  
  2. We value our consumer’s time by asking relevant questions and making sure giving feedback doesn’t feel too extensive.  
  3. We change accordingly. 
  4. And we let them know the changes we’ve made, reminding them that we value their contributions.

One way we did this was through introducing the American Express’ Companion Voucher, allowing a cheaper second ticket for travellers. In 2022, we made this offering more flexible by allowing solo travellers to use the vouchers to get a 50% discount on the Avios cost of their Reward Flight booking. These changes, made over an 18-month period, drove up usage, satisfaction and NPS scores. 

Another way? In November 2022, we launched a new redemption option enabling Avios donations to causes supported by the BA Better World Community Fund. Members can choose from over 180 causes to support, ranging in size from local, UK-based grass-roots charities to larger charitable organisations like the Disasters Emergency Committee and Alzheimer’s Society. IAGL has been supporting the proposition and encouraging members to consider donating Avios through a match funding campaign - when a member donates to a project using Avios, we will donate the equivalent value of the Avios in pounds to the chosen project*. So far, millions of Avios donated to members' selected causes demonstrating the value of choice, and this number continues to rise. *Subject to terms & conditions.

One more thing feedback told us: members wanted more outlets for them to redeem their Avios. We wanted to do this in innovative ways, including setting up a new and dedicated wine business for the use of UK members and introducing the option to redeem Avios with BA Holiday packages.  

In 2021, we also launched the British Airways partnership with Sainsburys and Nectar allowing customers who collect Nectar points to convert these to Avios and vice versa. The results? Members who have converted Nectar into Avios have flown the equivalent distance to fly around the world 36,000 times. Thousands of members have linked their Nectar and British Airways Exec Club accounts, showing us just how valuable the partnership is to our members. Better satisfied customers, more people using the programme and an increase in long-term loyalty. 

Providing this level of value to our members means we’re now able to tap into the emotional side of loyalty. The side that makes our members feel special. Quickfall educated us on the importance of closing the feedback loop. That means listening to and acting on those learnings. Consequently, this makes it possible for your members to develop a deeper emotional connection with your brand as they feel listened to and start becoming confident that you as a brand can cater to their needs.  

Awareness drives action. The right action drives customer satisfaction. And continued customer satisfaction has the power to drive customer loyalty.

Businesses are discovering the trick and becoming more and more focused on operating in ways that work best for their customers.

That phrases such as customer delight,’ have become boardroom buzzwords tells us that we’re in an era where happy customers are essential.

For sustained, meaningful growth today, you need loyal, delighted customers.  

Delighting customers as a tool for growth  

Research from marketers has shown the vast difference between selling to new customers vs existing ones. Whilst the probability of selling to a new customer is between 5% and 20%, the probability of selling to an existing customer is significantly higher at 60% - 70%. And this goes to show the potential of loyalty programmes.

A study by brand intelligence business Motista, showed that customers that are emotionally connected to brands have a 306% higher lifetime value (5.1 years) versus. satisfied customers (3.4 years).

According to Quickfall, when members who are emotionally connected to your brand can redeem relevant and valuable rewards, it puts your brand in a great place and further drives the lifetime value that most businesses are ultimately seeking.

You’re competing with a multitude of other brands,” she says. “So creating an emotional connection can easily become the standout factor that draws people to your brand.’ 

At IAGL learning is part of our philosophy. Quickfall shared some useful knowledge with us, summing up our attitude here at IAGL.  

Everything is always changing, so you have to be committed to sense checking what you know and looking for ways to learn more.  

Data from Nielsen shows that 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family. Happy customers don’t only recommend but they encourage others to interact with your brand too.  

And if this is the data for products, we can only imagine what it is when we bring it to the world of travel and experience.

When it comes to customer loyalty and listening to the ‘customer’s voice’ thinking about all we’ve mentioned, here are some closing tips from our expert, Quickfall.  

  • Never stop learning. Things are always changing. Listening and learning from your customers allows you to become a champion for them. 
  • Think of ALL the different ways to hear your customer’s voice; direct feedback but also blogs and forums. Be part of the broader conversation 
  • Aim for experiences as seamless as possible. Make it easy for your consumers and they’ll stay happy   

For more information on being customer focused and insight from IAGL on using these methods to drive loyalty, get in touch with us here.


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