Collinson and Salesforce have released their Future of Customer Engagement and Loyalty report that surveyed 350 Asia-Pacific-based brands in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong to uncover the loyalty strategies and tactics that companies across the region are employing today and investing in for the future.
Against the backdrop of the global pandemic, multinational companies are acutely aware that customer engagement and loyalty are critical to business expansion and competitiveness. The research revealed that companies are looking to scale up their investments in technology infrastructure to support loyalty innovation and meet the challenges of changing customer expectations. In addition, brands in Asia-Pacific, particularly in Hong Kong, have shown a keen interest in investing in loyalty management systems and data management architectures; with almost one-third of respondents saying that deploying cloud-based ecosystems will enable them to drive the largest return in the future.
To that end, they are harnessing cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the latter of which can deliver substantial new value for customer engagement and loyalty programmes in the future. Additionally, many companies are increasingly looking for ways to stand out by offering sustainability-focused benefits such as carbon offsets, and digital rewards like cryptocurrency and special digital content as part of their loyalty offerings.
A customer-first culture delivers faster ROI for companies
In this age of rapid digital transformation, companies that embrace a customer-first culture and integrate loyalty programmes as a core business function are more likely to achieve a faster return on their investments. Nearly half of the organisations surveyed were able to recover their investment on loyalty programmes within the first three years. A seamless customer experience is viewed as the most promising way to improve returns from loyalty programmes by roughly 64% of businesses. While many companies are still focused on offering rational benefits today, such as rewards points and discounts, the majority plan to move to more emotional offerings like status-enhancing special-access and personalised experiences.
Extracting additional customer value through loyalty programmes
Although businesses use loyalty programmes for a variety of reasons, the most common benefit, cited by 63% of respondents, is to extract additional customer value – through cross-selling, upselling and encouraging profitable customer behaviour. Other popular benefits of loyalty programmes include their ability to improve branding by creating a competitive differentiator for the brand, monetising customers, opening new direct-to-consumer sales channels, and improving customer analysis by allowing companies to identify and profile loyal customers and better understand their needs. Companies in Singapore identify efficiency in data management as the most valuable benefit, as it assists them in identifying and resolving data gaps in governance and compliance.
Todd Handcock, president, Asia-Pacific at Collinson, said: “The growing digitisation of customer experiences combined with changing consumer preferences has made it increasingly difficult for brands to engage and retain the loyalty of even their most valuable customers. Brands need to constantly have a finger on the pulse of their customers to understand their expectations and deliver meaningful experiences that look and feel bespoke to them.
“Our enhanced relationship with Salesforce and full-spectrum loyalty expertise of nearly 35 years, allows us to leverage the power of Salesforce’s platform to unlock data-driven insights and help brands across Asia-Pacific evolve their loyalty programmes to better engage their customers and truly add value to their lives.”
Opportunities for growth in Asia-Pacific’s loyalty market
Despite their numerous benefits and widespread acceptance, only one in four companies in Asia-Pacific have progressed to higher levels of maturity on their loyalty programmes. Most companies agree that they still have considerable work ahead of them to get the most out of their loyalty programmes. On average, companies across the region have been using loyalty programmes to engage with their customers at a more basic level – by offering general rewards and incentives, extending benefits through a points platform, and communicating with them through traditional marketing channels.
The use of targeted and personalised marketing to engage customers, offering time-relevant incentives and leveraging collaborations to offer rewards beyond their own brand is largely absent from their programmes. Across Asia-Pacific, brands are most likely to use loyalty programmes to retain their customers (51%) or improve levels of engagement and member activity (46%).
Through advanced tracking that, in turn, enables reward actions, Salesforce Loyalty Management enhances the consumer experience at every stage of the customer life cycle. This is further amplified by Collinson’s teams of strategic and technical loyalty experts, who build brand-bespoke, customer-focused programmes that deliver insight-led, personalised experiences to be delivered via the platform. Leveraging AI segmentation, machine learning and innovative analysis processes that enable continual programme evolution, Collinson’s teams and suite of solutions are behind the customer engagement and loyalty programmes of some of the world’s largest airlines, banks, hotel groups and technology companies today.