Rewarding Customer Feedback: Build Loyalty While Gaining Consumer Insights

Consumers have opinions on just about everything. So, what if a company’s loyalty program rewarded customers for the opinions that matter most to the business?

Loyalty programs have traditionally focused on rewards and points for purchasing behavior. As a consumer, I try my best to be savvy about participating in loyalty programs of brands I consistently buy from.

A program I am highly engaged with is the Southwest Rapid Rewards program. I have a Southwest credit card, and like most millennials, I typically prefer being rewarded with experiences.

Because I do my best to get the most out of the loyalty programs I participate in, I pay close attention to the communications I receive from brands I’m subscribed to. That’s why this recent communication from Southwest caught my attention:

The email invited me to be part of a select group asked to participate in Southwest’s Rewards for Opinions panel. This offer gives the opportunity to take surveys on your own time and — this is the key part — receive Rapids Rewards points for completing each survey.

Rewarding customers with points in exchange for their feedback can be an effective strategy for keeping already loyal customers increasingly engaged for a few reasons:

  1. Rewarding for feedback makes customers and program members feel valued and special.

The language in the Southwest email presents the Rewards for Opinions panel as an exclusive group. When I saw that the panel was “by invitation only” I got the sense that I’m a valued customer because I was selected and invited to participate in this program. Likewise, the phrase “your opinions are worth thousands of points” tells the customer that their feedback on the brand experience literally has a dollar value.

To add to that sense of value, brands could consider ramping up the element of status by inviting top point earners to a “most valued customers” opinion panel, including formal invitations and a surprise gift for participating.

  1. Member surveys provide insights about consumers and their demographics that companies and brands can use to shape future business initiatives.  

Many of the surveys in the Rewards for Opinions portal asked about my demographics, spending habits, and much more.

A brand can leverage these surveys to collect new kinds of customer data that loyalty programs do not usually collect.  That information can, in turn, be used to make the loyalty program even more personal. The survey information can also be used by brands to further segment their customers and provide more insight into their spending habits and purchasing decisions. And by positioning the surveys as a tool to provide them with a better brand experience, it’ll be much easier to get a high level of engagement and candid response.

  1. Points for surveys help members increase their earn velocity.

While I am active in my Southwest Rapid Rewards account, I don’t travel often enough to accumulate as many points as I’d like. The Rewards for Opinions panel makes it easier for me to quickly earn points without a huge time commitment.

Based on new consumer research data from Maritz, the most common reason for disengaging from a loyalty program is rewards/benefits being too hard to earn or taking too long to earn — 44% of consumers rank it as their top reason for quitting a program. Member surveys provide an additional, quick way for members to earn points. If a consumer doesn’t travel frequently like myself, it might be hard for them to earn points. If they were given the option to take surveys to earn points, they could earn and redeem more frequently.

Adding a survey element to a loyalty program is a great way to diversify loyalty program offerings, gather information about your customers, and increase engagement within your loyalty program. Brands should consider this in their program design to further drive engagement and loyalty.

Do you receive rewards for providing customer feedback? If so, which programs do you participate in?

How Influencer Marketing Builds Customer Loyalty

I love Instagram.

Out of all the time I spend on social media, I spend the most on Instagram, scrolling through pictures of food, outfits, and places I want to travel to.

One of the accounts I follow religiously on Instagram is the account @SomethingNavy. The account is run by Arielle Charnas, a fashion blogger. She has over 10 years of experience in the industry, and works with tons of brands, including: First Aid Beauty, Secret, & designers like Rebecca Minkoff. This summer, she announced a collaboration with the brand Treasure & Bond, and the clothing collection was sold through Nordstrom. The clothing line was set to launch the last week of September.

Charnas is an example of a new industry dedicated to “Influencer Marketing.” Simply defined, Influencer Marketing focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to a larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead pay influencers to get the word out for you through their followers. Instagram is the best platform for bloggers like Charnas to spread their influence.

Influence Drives Purchase

I spent the weeks leading up to Charnas’s September launch talking with my friends who are also loyal followers. We exchanged pictures of the different pieces of clothing, discussing which items we planned on buying. We even set up a group chat solely dedicated to talking about the collection. The day the collection was set to launch, alarms were set, and we were ready to shop. When 8:00 am CST hit, there was a problem: Nordstrom was experiencing issues on their back end, and they had to wait to individually load the pieces one by one. But my friends and I didn’t close out of the Nordstrom website. We stayed on our computers until the items we wanted became available because of our dedication to the brand Charnas presents on her Instagram.

Despite this technical glitch, the clothing line was sold out. Several customer service issues could not stop consumers from shopping this brand. I was able to get the items I wanted. When the clothing line was initially announced, Nordstrom stressed that there would not be a restock. After the line was sold out, Nordstrom announced they would be restocking the collection in December. And within the week, my friends and I had received our pieces.

Influencing Cult Loyalty

Influencer Marketing presents a great opportunity for achieving Cult Loyalty. My friends and I exhibited cult loyalist behavior in this buying scenario. For a refresher, Cult Loyalty refers to being loyal because the brand reflects personal identities and values. By placing an influencer in front of a product, it adds that personal touch and allows a deeper relationship than a relationship with a consumer brand. Arielle Charnas is not only a fashion blogger, she’s a businesswoman, wife, mother, and friend. She doesn’t use her platform just for posting outfits – she also posts videos spending time with her daughter, and dedicates time to answering questions posed by her dedicated followers. My friends and I were driven to purchase her clothing because we identify with the image she presents on her social media platforms. In terms of reasons for referring someone to a brand, Maritz market research data shows that Cult Loyalists are the consumers most motivated by having friends/family join in the brand experience with them (43%).

By following along with the @SomethingNavy instagram account, my friends and I could follow Arielle’s clothing line from the early stages, all the way up to execution & release. Nordstrom, Treasure & Bond, and @SomethingNavy were all able to engage in Influencer Marketing to ensure the success of the clothing launch. If this were any other brand, consumers would have disengaged with the launch as soon as problems arose. But because of the personal experience with the brand, consumers and followers stayed online until they could get the clothing they wanted.

How could your brand apply this same idea, generally, to drive loyalty?

The idea of Influencer Marketing isn’t only reserved for fashion and beauty. By selecting an influencer who reflects the brand’s values, any brand can leverage Influencer Marketing to drive customer loyalty.

Are they any products you buy based on influencers you follow on social media? Leave a comment below.