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As our culture continues to focus on economic issues and a need for austerity, the desire for incentives and rewards will keep on growing! However, growth in technology, with most people accessing information and engaging with their favorite brands on multiple screens, is changing how customers want those incentives to be delivered.

This presents both challenges and opportunities for social media savvy business owners, as their networks “open the doors to new types of customer experiences by connecting you with them when they are a few feet away from their stores,” says the Customer Loyalty Institute, which also notes that social media is transforming loyalty programs “by identifying problems through monitoring what people are saying about their brands.”

In other words, small business owners need a strategy that works on several levels, streamlining the process of boosting loyalty, while taking spending data into consideration to target communications and maximize customer retention. The old models of boosting loyalty without creating feedback loops isn’t going to do it!

Jessica Harris in an n>genuity Journal article focuses on customers’ new demands:  “Offers and loyalty approaches need advertising and marketing to connect them with the consumer, and the effective ones have the capacity to disrupt the decades-old interchange regime.” At Upserve, we’ve combined the best practices of loyalty programs with the must-haves of payment processing. Every swipe turns into data you can use to bring customers back.

Let’s discuss that “old-regime” now, mainly the punch-card model. Punch cards were a fantastic tool for inspiring loyalty by giving the customer a reason to return. However, they were also inefficient – customers frequently lost or forgot them, or had to fumble to find them at the counter, which interrupted the flow of a positive in-store interaction.

Small businesses do a lot of (costly) work to get customers in the door and the punch-cards in their hands, but is this the best option when it lacks the ability to follow-up and provide data that is key for customer retention?

According to Kissmetrics, “Companies focus on acquisition more than customer retention, even though it can cost 7x more to acquire new customers.”

This is why digital loyalty programs are complete game-changers, replacing punch cards with newer, easier methods of providing incentives for the customers to return, and better ways for businesses to track and use data they need to engage them and make key connections.

Digital loyalty programs provide:

Simplicity. Everything is streamlined for the business and hassle-free for the customer, who no longer needs to remember an additional card, as programs like Upserve connect rewards directly to customers’ credit or debit cards. This makes room for engaging the customer in conversation at the checkout counter, checking in for feedback and providing a pleasant experience, instead of “do you have a rewards card?”

Powerful Insights. Upserve offers comprehensive customer analytics for a multi-faceted approach that is much more powerful than a loyalty-building alone. Spending data used alongside loyalty data allows businesses to craft a more insightful communication strategy that delivers faster, more noticeable returns.

The right digital loyalty program helps businesses hit their target every time with personal interactions, better service in-store and promotions online. Ditching those punch cards and old ways of thinking will give you a distinct advantage with today’s customers, who want more opportunities, faster and through multiple outlets.

Photo by Nick J Webb on Flickr

Discover how to easily combine payments + loyalty!


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As part of Upserve’s family of more than 10,000 restaurants, The Chef is Restaurant Insider’s secret weapon in the kitchen. As a restaurant expert in all things marketing, menu building, management, training and more, restaurateurs trust The Chef and the award-winning Restaurant Insider to dish out the ingredients needed to make your business a sweet success.