employee wearing apron holding heart
From focusing on the needs of the local community to offering priority sales and reservations, there are several ways business owners can generate loyalty among customers. — Getty Images/twinsterphoto

With many U.S. businesses in the process of reopening while COVID-19 still threatens communities, now’s the time for companies to rebuild relationships with returning customers. Part of this process is fostering customer loyalty, whether you have a dedicated customer loyalty program or you simply use tactics to bring high-quality customers back into the store.

Here are eight ways to reengage with loyal customers in the coronavirus era.

Extend reward redemption windows

A simple way to improve rapport with customers as you reopen is to extend the window in which customers can redeem rewards or points through your loyalty program. It’s important for companies to be understanding of various customer circumstances in this environment, so giving them the flexibility to come back when they are ready shows appreciation. Extending the window also means that when they do come back in, they can still use their rewards and you have more opportunities to win back consistent business.

Give special discounts and offers

One of the most important things you can do to reengage loyal customers as you reopen is to offer them discounts and deals just for them. Whether it’s a percentage off their first returning purchase, a buy-one-get-one-free offer or a similar deal, this will help make these costumers feel special and exclusive.

Improve or revamp your loyalty program

As you reopen, take a step back and think about how your loyalty program currently works to see if it fits with the current moment. There may be ways to change it to better suit pandemic-affected customers or those who have changed their shopping habits. For example, if your program usually offered discounts for certain in-store purchases, can those same benefits be extended to customers shopping online as well? Another way to improve your loyalty program could also be to simplify the sign-up process to ensure more customers can take part.

Know and understand what’s happening locally

As COVID-19 has hit communities differently around the country, it’s of great importance to focus your reopening messages based on what is happening in your local community. For example, if your region is in a certain phase of reopening, your welcome back messages may be better suited for when your area enters a specific reopening phase. If your loyal costumers see an ad welcoming them back when your business isn’t technically supposed to be open yet, it may turn them off.

One way to help bring back customers more quickly is to actually ask them what they want and what would encourage them to return.

Link customer credit cards to your loyalty program

With many customers moving away from cash and more people using just credit cards, you can make it extra easy for customers to gain loyalty rewards by linking their credit cards to their accounts. Not only does this make it easier for customers to collect rewards, but it also opens up the possibility to use that data to better market deals and benefits to your most loyal customers. This addition to your customer loyalty program should be optional, in case customers are concerned about privacy.

Offer priority reservations or sales

One way to make your loyal customers feel more appreciated is to offer them priority reservations, appointments or sales. This could be as simple as sending your highest-tier customer list an email a day before your normal email list with information on reservations and appointments. Another example would be to offer loyal customers the ability to buy items before you market the items as you normally would. Even if these customers don’t take you up on these offers, it could encourage them to return to your store sooner.

Scrap pre-COVID-19 marketing and advertising

If you designed marketing campaigns or advertising in early 2020 or before, think twice about using those same assets now as you try to bring customers back. Many of these ads and messages don’t account for the changes surrounding COVID-19 and showing out-of-context messaging may turn off returning customers. For example, if you had photos of large gatherings you planned to use in your summer or fall marketing, some loyal customers may feel you are not adjusting to the moment.

Understand customer challenges and meet them

One way to help bring back customers more quickly is to actually ask them what they want and what would encourage them to return. This can be as simple as emailing your top customers personally and seeing what they are most interested in buying or asking about their needs. You also could run a survey of your top-tier customers about their current buying habits to see if you need to change your inventory, modify how you offer your products or make other changes.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Want to read more? Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn!

For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Want to read more? Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn!

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Published June 24, 2020