When the calendar flips to April, it doesn’t just mean the end of Q1 or the final countdown to earnings reports. For the past 15 years, April has also been Customer Loyalty Month — and to be honest, this reminder to bring loyalty to the forefront couldn’t be happening at a better time.
After all, retailers have a lot on their minds. Even though the industry has always had an issue with high turnover, today’s hiring challenges are unprecedented. Retail wages are rising overall — with a 7.1% increase in February, after a 5.8% increase in January — and some companies are going far and beyond that. Target, for example, will be raising its minimum wage from $15 up to $24 per hour. Still, though, employees across the industry are leaving their jobs in droves.
The main reason? A lack of advancement. A recent Walmart-funded study found there are five things standing in the way of career advancement in retail. One of them — misalignment between business and talent strategy — can relate directly to your retail technology. For example, if you roll out shiny new technology but don’t adequately train your staff to use it, or don’t show how it makes their job more efficient, or don’t explain how it ties back to everyone’s overall success, it can be frustrating and downright discouraging for your team.
As we mentioned, turnover is nothing new in retail. An active effort to help change that is part of the reason why National Customer Service Week is celebrated every October — to celebrate the employees who so proudly serve customers. But while today’s turnover is certainly hampering the industry, it’s not the only thing retailers have on their minds right now.
Late last year, Forrester predicted that brands could lose 50% of their sales simply due to backordered items. Unfortunately, the supply chain disruption started by COVID has only gotten worse and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. Even supply operations for major brands like Apple, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and PepsiCo are feeling the pinch.
With all of these issues swirling around, it couldn’t be a better time to bring customer loyalty back into focus.
Make no mistake, Customer Loyalty Month isn’t only about creating major pushes for new rewards members or trying to drive exponential store visits. Just like you don’t only appreciate your romantic partner on Valentine’s Day, you don’t only worry about customer loyalty in April. That’s because loyalty — in any form — is an ongoing emotional relationship. In retail, that relationship makes customers willing to return to your brand again and again. While you may have a rewards program, customers are actually rewarding YOU with their business.
So what should you do during Customer Loyalty Month? Build foundations that will set you up for loyalty success.
Take some time to discover your brand’s WHY. Why should customers do business with you? Why would they do business with a competitor instead? Why aren’t people redeeming your offers or signing up for your loyalty program? Why aren’t you seeing same-store gains? Why are customers churning?
Recent research shows 80% of customers have switched brands because of a poor customer experience. It doesn’t cost them anything to brand hop, which makes your WHY so vital. It’s estimated that U.S. companies can lose $1.9 trillion in consumer spending every year simply due to poor customer experiences.
So this year, take a fresh approach to Customer Loyalty Month. Once you have a clear understanding of your WHY, explore new ways to create experiences that drive loyalty, not just in April but all year round.